Donate Now
Breaking the cycle of poverty


You might also like...

Help Us To Build a Nasio Library For All

Nasio as a charity provides support through education to children from the age of three but without a library, children have no access to books they can read for pleasure to help stretch their imagination and inspire them!

Find Out More

Africa Needs Not Just Greater Literacy, But Also More Publishers
October 2023

To support our Library appeal, Katie Isbester explores the importance of publishers in creating the intellectual fabric of a healthy culture.


Publisher, Entrepreneur, Weaver By Katie Isbester

We are scribblers by nature. And scribblers need publishers to reproduce, distribute and sell. The question is how to make money out of that reality. Publishing needs a viable business model so entrepreneurs – clever and mercantile – light up when they think of it.

As early as 3500 BCE, in Mesopotamia, the human species figured out how to write. We were carving epics into stone about a hero called Gilgamesh whose valiant battles were interposed with delightful sex on a river bank with his queen.

Hard to call the stone masons who hammered out Gilgamesh its publishers, much less entrepreneurs.

Publishing, as a business, didn’t emerge until 1440 when Gutenberg invented the printing press, a secret he tried to keep as long as possible, suggesting that he hadn’t quite grasped the business plan behind it. Initially, the printing press was not successful. Gutenberg Bibles, now worth a fortune, were then cheap and nasty, and hard to sell. The man who subsequently bought the Gutenberg press, used it to churn out advertising leaflets. He, unlike Gutenberg was an entrepreneur but not a publisher.

The first book that showed how publishing could make money was – of course – porn. Published in 1740 Pamela told the story of a pretty maid whose employer kept trying to do naughty things to her, which she really rather enjoyed. It took 300 years, widespread literacy, disposable income, and poor taste in reading material to build the publishing industry we know and love today.

The Brits were late to the party. Many places in Europe had these qualities before us. Amsterdam and Venice were notable for being centres of publishing within a lifetime of Gutenberg. The bestseller in the time of Leonard da Vinci was the “miracle” birth of a two-headed calf. I’m sure the publisher did well out of that one too.

At the moment, there are only seven publishers in the whole country of Kenya. And hats off to them. Mostly, these seven publish books related to education or Christianity. Kenya is not unique. Africa in general needs more publishers.

Here’s why: publishing may not lend itself to entrepreneurialism but is integral to the creation of a people as a people. Publishing is about telling our stories about ourselves to ourselves. Through these stories we better understand our shared world. Unlike TV shows or internet memes, books can be gifted, stored and revisited. They can be debated and quoted, studied and re-interpreted. Books tend to be the warp and weft of the fabric of our culture. Publishers are weavers. Countries need weavers. So Africa needs not just greater literacy and more books. But also more publishers. And building libraries are the first step.

Everywhere, the trick is to persuade weavers to weave us our stories.

This story is listed in: Uncategorized

"I’m really grateful to the Nasio Trust programme because it is really changing lives for good. The Nasio Trust has really changed this community and really changed my life..."
Eunice (supported for 6 years – now volunteering for Nasio)

From the blog...

Publishing in Africa at the London Book Fair By Katie Isbester

In further support of the Nasio Trust’s Library appeal, Katie Isbester talks about her recent trip to the London Book Fair and a fortuitous discovery!

I didn’t mean to go to the talk. There were some 30,000 people at the London Book Fair and I was supposed to meet at least a few of them. Instead I found myself going to a talk on publishing in Africa because of Nasio Trust. I knew it was trying to build a library, the first of its kind in Western Kenya, and I was rather curious.

Find out more

Nasio’s Medical Centre Nominated for an Award

We are pleased to share that Nasio’s GMK Medical Centre was nominated for the award of Primary Care Provider of the Year at the Quality Healthcare Kenyan Awards, 2024.

It was nominated from among 48,000 healthcare providers and was among the top 11 nominees.

Find out more

Our 2024 Nasio Newsletter Has Arrived

Hot off the press – you can read our 2024 Nasio Newsletter.

All the latest Nasio news, information and acheivements.

Find out more

Get updates by email

Stay up to date with Nasio news, appeals, volunteer stories & fundraising events