Friday, 19 June 2015

Book Industry Association of Jamaica (BIAJ) Booksellers Trade Show 2015

Bazpa display
The BIAJ Booksellers Trade Show was held downtown, Kingston on June 18, and publishers and wholesalers took advantage to make pitches to booksellers across Jamaica. The BIAJ estimates that 80% of book sales in Jamaica are related to educational materials, so the expo is in preparation for the back-to-school season which determines the profitability of a book selling businesses.

As it would be expected, the greatest portion of the day focused on books that support for the education curricula across Jamaica, especially the required and supplemental book lists of the Ministry of Education.

BIAJ board member Franklin McGibbon, who also was the chairman for the event, reminded the membership that they should be aware of developments in the ministry's policies and changes to the book lists. He said that the "Tablets in Schools" pilot programme of 2014 is an indication that in perhaps three years, many primary level schools will ask parents to buy digital tablets and the text books will be uploaded at the schools. He encouraged booksellers to adjust their business models accordingly and perhaps carry more stationery and electronic merchandise that will be used in education.

BIAJ board member Franklin McGibbon
during duties as event chairman
Customer Service practitioner Lesley Ann Harvey McDonald gave a presentation on customer service, urging stores to do in-store displays of merchandise that tell a story.

The day allowed for some excitement about local writers. Basil Dawkins' play  Hot Spot has been published in the Caribbean Writers Series and is used by secondary teachers. The book was launched in Jamaica in March 2015.

Children's writer Hazel Campbell's book Bernie and the Captain's Ghost, published by Carlong should be released as a movie next year. Ms Campbell has been described as "A prolific writer, and all of her books are very good".

The sales reps were dynamic and on-target with informed and riveting presentations, but they were not to be outdone by Sharon Martini's singing nakupende (I love you) and Yashika Lopez from Bazba telling local riddles and speaking about the biennial Nakumbuka (I remember) cultural event that was held at Mico University. These non-education presentations were also well appreciated by the audience.

I spoke about the 2015 staging of Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta and that it will return to central Jamaica in 2016. I also pitched Young Heroes In School print and e-book versions.

Among the booksellers in attendance were Mrs Carby and the team from Carlong Publishers; other publishers were Ian Randle Publishers and LMH and Claudette Myers displayed recently updated publications of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).Among their newer titles is Jamaica's Growth Inducement Strategy In The Short and Medium Term by former Director General Dr Gladstone Hutchinson. 

Martini preparing to sing about the love of life in her books
Yashika Lopez and Letroy Monroe of Bazba distributors had a range of books representing authors who write on educational topics, novels and motivational books, and and they also had a line of t-shirts that showcased individual parishes of Jamaica. International marketers Hodder were represented by Nadia Morrison, Frank Phipps and Denise Watts Lawrence; local bookchains Kingston Bookshop, Sangsters, Bryans and Turning Pages.

Independent bookstores included Angels Books and Variety Store (outside Spanish Town); Stationery World and Book Centre (Sandringham Ave has an Internet cafe); Browns Town Books and Stationery Supplies; Grants Bookstore (Browns Town) and personalised book shoppers Kozy Korner. Independent publishers Sharon Martini of the children's Dotty Beetle Books, Levon Phillips with the guidance counselling line of resource materials were on hand. 

Publishers from Trinidad were represented by Book Wizard and Bookzone, the representatives of T&T publishers Datazone. 

The BIAJ is a 25-year old organisation that promotes literacy and educational excellence in Jamaica.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


Kingston, June 15, 2015
The Department of Literatures in English (DLIE) at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus,  continues to expand its influence on platforms where the languages that are spoken in Jamaica - English and Jamaican - flourish and are celebrated. Its most recent collaboration was the 4th staging of the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta on May 23, 2015 where the appearance of internationally acclaimed Jamaican poet and author, Lorna Goodison, was facilitated by the DLIE. She is one of Jamaica's leading poets who is a much sought-after speaker and presenter at universities around the world.
Head of the Department, Dr Michael Bucknor, noted that the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta  was the latest in a series of meaningful collaborations.“As a university, we want to be a part of providing a platform where excellence in Literature can be celebrated”, he said.
Literature has long been considered to be a foundation for visionary leadership, and the DLIE has recently introduced several initiatives that are designed to attract more students to pursue studies in literature. These include the expansion of its programmes to include orature [oral literature] and writing for screen and stage.
The 2015 staging of the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta showcased the writing of  15 Jamaicans across several genres, and included the best in contemporary writing from established writers who are or have been connected with the DLIE. These included Poet Laureate Mervyn Morris, Professor Emeritus Eddie Baugh, editor and creative writer, Victor Chang, and contemporary poet and lecturer, Tanya Shirley. DLIE's Poetry Clash winner, Peta Gaye Williams, also appeared. 
In his opening remarks at the Fiesta, Dr Bucknor said, “We are happy to bring to the festival none other than our beloved Lorna Goodison and to facilitate so many who have had association with our department. One of our partners this year is The Gloria Lyn Memorial Fund, that was established last year in honour of a former lecturer in the department to further raise the visibility of literature by recognising students who have excelled in literature at Mona.” Roma Richardson, the first recipient of the Gloria Lyn Prize read an excerpt of Mrs. Lyn's piece, 'Memories from a Jamaican Village', published in Ray Chen's book, The Shopkeepers.
The Two Seasons Talking Trees lineup also included performance poet Cherry Natural, actress and storyteller Amina Blackwood Meeks and poet Easton Lee. Novelists included Sharon Leach, Carol Dunn and authors for young adults, Mandisa Parnell and Gwyneth Harold Davidson. The new genre of blogging was represented by Annie Paul, writer and critic, who is head of the Publications Section at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, The UWI, Mona. Patrons were also treated to the restaging of the 10 minute play, Devon, written and directed by Fabian Thomas, who was  MC for the day.
The DLIE has energised its support of publications by established creative writers of excellence through hosting several book launches, and engaged noted novelist, Erna Brodber, in its writer-in-residence programme.
The department intends to be a catalyst to inspire the youth, and encourage today’s greatest thinkers in the region, and foster a steady output of literature that will enrich the environment and promote moral and creative leadership in both the public and private sectors.
The 2015 Fiesta, which was endorsed by the Jamaica Tourist Board, was held in Treasure Beach, on the grounds of Two Seasons Guest House, which was the major sponsor. Other corporate sponsors were Jamaica National, Jamcopy, and Treasure Beach Hotel.
The festival is expected to return in 2016. Stay tuned!

Friday, 12 June 2015

2015 Book Industry Association Jamaica Author Appearance BY Gwyneth Harold Davidson


I welcome the 2015 staging of the Book Industry of Jamaica Trade Show in downtown Kingston, and expect that it will be an energetic day with publishers, distributors, librarians and educators exploring developments in the industry.

I aim to provide engaging stories for YA readers, who we know are definitely not limited to young adults!

My newest book Young Heroes of the Caribbean can be a good match to a YA catalogue or inventory, and bring in new readers to enjoy material from the Caribbean.

The book is already connected to media tie-ins that invite the reader to be immersed into the story before turning a page. The current tie-ins include illustrations and audio drama that is useful for lovers of audio books. In addition, the audio materials will help to build confidence in young and/or reluctant readers.

This is a family story that can find resonance anywhere on the globe. Conflict between former lovers, custody of a young child, vagaries of steady employment and the stability of a home of your own. What makes it uniquely Caribbean is the warm, sandy beach setting, the delicious local seafood, the history of thoroughbred horseracing that is deeply ingrained - and often overlooked - aspect of our culture. The history of enslavement that has shaped our culture is viewed in a heroic sense and how it developed respect for valour and the value community life.

I look forward to building your confidence in this book and having mutually fruitful discussions.

Gwyneth Harold Davidson