Accra Book Club calling!

This is unashamedly a plug for the main book club I belong to.

We call ourselves the Accra Book Club, which is not terribly original, I know.  We  meet monthly – usually, except for a month or two in the months of June, July or August. This year we missed our July and August gatherings as several members had travelled.

So we will resume at the end of September.

Our next two books are:

  • The thirteenth tale, by Diane Sutterfield
  • The life and times of Michael K, by J M Coetzee

We usually meet at a restaurant, early in the evening – and we eat, and talk about the specific book, and others we’ve read.  We also socialize a bit!

So if you are coming to Accra or have just arrived or you’ve been here for a while, and are looking for a book club/book group in which to discuss a range of books, do contact me – via the comments – and I will send you more information.

Looking forward to hearing from some more potential “members”!

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Sytris’ new branch in Osu

Sytris  Bookservice [NB:  the website has not been updated for a while] is one of the local companies which we use at work to supply tertiary level textbooks, so most of my contact with them is virtually all by email or phone – and related to the needs of students and faculty of Ashesi University College, where I work.  I knew there were also physical bookshops – at Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), on the Spintex Road (one of the major roads linking the eastern suburbs of Accra with the main road from Accra to Legon) and also at Radford University College.  I had actually been to the bookshop on the Spintex Road a couple of times, but the traffic and stock generally tended to be a constraint.

Recently I heard that the shop on Spintex had closed, and another branch had opened in Osu – on the major road locally known as “Oxford Street” , though I think the real name is Cantonments Road, despite the fact that both appear on Google Maps.

So time to take a look…  what I didn’t do though is take my camera, so no photos unfortunately!

Although Marc Cofie House has been around for a while, there is construction going on, so every retailer occupying the building is responsible for their own signage.  I hope that changes, because even access from the street is somewhat limited to those with cars, as there is a security bar before entering the parking lot – not very customer friendly in my opinion.  Sytris is on the second floor – so up we went…

The shop is quite large, open, and light, with large windows overlooking the street.  I am guessing that in the future there will be some displays in the windows in order to attract customers though at the moment there is a large banner with the name of the company.  The shelves on the walls are filled with mostly textbooks, with lighter fiction – aka story books – on tables, and in some magazines in racks.  Lots of graphic novels – otherwise known as comic books – too, so altogether a pretty good selection, though tending to lighter fiction and chick lit I would say.

Naturally I bought something (I am not sure that I can enter a bookshop without doing so):   a couple of job and motivational books for those with me, plus a Tintin book and a mystery.

I hope the good start will continue, and I will be a regular visitor!

New bookshop coming in Ghana?

I do buy one Ghanaian newspaper every day – the Daily Graphic – but I skim through at least one or two others – in a work context. And once in a while I will look at some of those that have websites which are regularly updated.

I have to admit that I don’t really read the Daily Graphic. I skim through the news, reading one or two stories or articles, and then settle in to take a look at the daily crop of adverts which usually take up a large portion of this newspaper.

During the last week I’ve seen two full page ads for a new bookshop with branches which is recruiting staff and due to open in September 2011. As usual there is no indication of the name of the company or the specific physical locations.  All applications are to be sent via email, but again the email is a webmail address.

I have to admit that this is one of my “beefs” about recruitment here.  Why is it so difficult to indicate the name of the company looking for staff?  I have been told that it has to do with preventing applicants from personally lobbying, or coming in huge numbers to make enquiries or submit applications.  But this happens even when a recruitment agency is being used!  I would have thought companies would rather want potential employees to know that they are looking for staff, to encourage applications that are targetted and relevant, rather than those which are generic, and probably not at all suitable.   I also think there is a lack of transparency which may reflect on the institutions themselves.

Apologies for this slight digression into the realm of human resources recruitment.

Back to the subject of new bookshops, I am curious about this new enterprise, as the advert indicates there will be branches in Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale, Obuasi and Cape Coast. First question:  is it really a new shop? or just an old one re-inventing itself?  Where is its physical location in Accra?

And there is a full complement of staff required – at least for the front facing aspects of the business: bookshop managers, customer service managers, academic sales reps, commission sales executives and sales attendants – though no mention of back office support personnel such as those involved in finance, warehousing, etc…  But surely there must be a contact for the company?  But again, nothing.

Naturally as a book buyer I am intrigued. I buy quite a few books for my personal use – as I have testified to on occasion, and should do a bit more. Plus I am always on the lookout for new sources for work as we do a fair bit of procurement of texts and other supplementary readings for tertiary level students.

So I am still wondering:  what will be the orientation of this new bookshop?  Will it be concentrating on an academic market – or more at the basic and secondary level?  Will there be children’s books?  What about fiction?  What about books on Ghana and/or by Ghanaians?  What about other African books?

Many questions, and not many answers… I guess I have to be patient.

Book buying in July 2011

My book buying in July was relatively mild – compared to some months…

Mainly because they were available, and pretty cheap, I bought four Tintin books, all by Herge:
1. Tintin in America
2. The broken ear
3. The secret of the Unicorn
4. Red Rackham’s treasure

I’ve read them all before – several times – but I know others will enjoy them!

As mentioned previously there were a couple of book launches during the month, one I did not attend, and the
other one I did. Two more books then

5. A place of beautiful nonsense, by Alba Sumprim [non fiction, satire about Ghana] (I bought my copy at Silverbird  bookstore though one could contact the author
6. The chicken thief, by Fiona Leonard [mild mannered thriller set in Southern Africa]
I am actually reading both of these as I write, and enjoying them, in totally different ways.

And just before the end of the month:
7. Heartstone, by C J Sansom (one of the Shardlake Tudor mysteries)
8. Crocodile bread, by Kathy Knowles (a picture book) [available in Ghana at various local bookshops – I bought my copy at Vidyas –  and through Osu Childrens Library Fund

And lest I forget – because it still isn’t my primary means of reading – I “bought” five books to be read on
my Kindle, though I must honestly say that four of them did not cost anything 🙂 Bargains are not to be
missed, even in the electronic world!

9. Les miserables, by Victor Hugo [classic, which I have never read]
10. Fairy tales every child should know, by Hamilton Wright Mabie [time to revisit childhood?]
11. A cold day for murder, by Dana Stabenow [easy reading]
12. Back on murder, by J Mark bertrand [easy reading]
13. State of wonder, by Ann Patchett [literary, with good reviews]

So 60+% on physical books, and a little less than 40% on e-books.  I bought the physical books at Kingdom, Silverbird, Goethe Institut (book launch) and Vidya’s – all in Accra; the e-books were downloaded from Amazon.

I wonder how this compares to others?