African Books Collective: Thousands of Ebooks Published in Africa 

Posted on: January 29, 2024

African Books Collective logo

Exciting news for JMU! We can now access the African Books Collective (ABC) collection of about 2,000 scholarly and children’s ebooks published independently in Africa.  

What’s in the collection? The ABC has something for everyone, with ebooks on African culture and studies, African history, art, memoirs, education, poetry, politics, and more. These ebooks are published by various African scholarly and literary presses, children’s book publishers, research institutes, commercial and non-governmental organizations, activist organizations, and collectives. 

How do I browse the ebooks? You can find the ABC ebooks in our library catalog or the ABC database. The database allows you to browse by subject, view catalogs, or search for specific titles or topics. 

How (and why) did JMU get access to this collection? JMU’s access to this resource is thanks to the work of the Support for Small Publishers Task Force, launched by VIVA (Virginia’s Academic Library Consortium). Malia Willey, a JMU humanities librarian and a member of this task force, explains the importance of this work: “Small publishers often have a limited print run of their books. They might not have the infrastructure to widely distribute their publications or offer digital access on their own. Consortia can help support their independence and sustainability.”  

Why is independent publishing so important? The global consolidation of publishing opportunities has meant that librarians striving to provide diverse materials and points of view have faced significant challenges in providing access to these scholarly works.

By offering this collection of titles, ABC is making a significant contribution to bibliodiversity and scholarly communication. This move marks a shift from the traditional distribution model, in which small presses relied on large vendors to make distribution decisions, to a more equitable model in which the small presses have more autonomy over the distribution of their titles. 

Who can benefit from this resource? The ABC collection is an invaluable resource for JMU students and faculty alike. With content relevant to multiple majors, minors, and courses, it provides perspectives that can expand our understanding of the disciplines we study and our global community. 

Dr. Besi Muhonja, Associate Vice Provost for Research and Scholarship, describes why she and the JMU Office of Research, Economic Development and Innovation celebrate this addition to our collections: “This resource directly supports our efforts to enhance international research support services. As an Africanist scholar, it’s personal to me and my work in multiple ways, and it is important for all because African Studies includes ALL disciplines.” 

Start reading: You can explore the collection of ABC ebooks in our library catalog or in the ABC database

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