E-Learning. Countrywide E-Learning has been sparked by the outbreak of the Coronavirus Pandemic. This type of learning provokes thinking after being necessitated by a deadly virus.

With the current COVID-19 Pandemic causing businesses, bars, sports avenues, libraries, political rallies and events to grind to a screeching halt, there is good news for the thriving market for e-books. The frozen world can only unfurl itself through e-platforms.

It was laughable twenty years ago to have imagined that technology tools will provide solutions to learners at such an unprecedented time.  

The world is accelerating into an economic recession eroding countries’ mojo. The scenes across the world are those of the Armageddon as captured in the book of Revelation in the New Testament.

Coronavirus has proved one thing: A hybrid system of digital and traditional publishing is essential for the survival of the publishing industry in Kenya.

Schools have shut down as a measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. Parents have suddenly been compelled to play the dual roles of homeschooling and parenting. It is not an easy task to keep the restless children confined in a house. 

Apart from feeding, there is also part of keeping children entertained safely in the house without the risk of overindulgence on television or electronic gadgets.

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Publishers need to urgently develop online portals to allow homeschooling to take-off during this global pandemic of COVID-19.

The uptake of e-books will be an easy option at such an unprecedented time. The apocalyptic scenes sweeping across the globe have not spared the publishing industry, other sectors have been thrown into economic turmoil.

Governments are racing to put in place economic stimulus rescue packages to the affected industries. Schools that are the main key clients of the industry have closed down.

This has exacerbated the situation that had been dire after the Government of Kenya adopted a closed business model of directly supplying books to the public schools.

General readers in Kenya cannot sustain the publishing industry-it is well known that Kenyans do not read except for the examinations.

Once they leave school, reading becomes a luxury. And the Government has just classified critical and essential services during this lockdown to stem the spread of the virus; sadly, publishing is not listed among the key services.

A sizable number of bookshops had closed down even before the effects of COVID-19 had hit home. A few surviving ones have integrated their bookshops and have now added non-related stock to their shelves with the hope of eking a living.

It is not unusual to come across a bookshop selling fertilizer. Bookshops used to be amazing places where one could enjoy walking through the aisles.  The fresh smell associated with new books is gone and replaced with mouldy pockets of air.

The awe associated with bookshops as cultural sites of national identity is fast fading into oblivion. The global viral bushfire of COVID-19 will make an already fragile situation worse.

The Ksh15 billion industry wholly depends on educational kids’ books subsidized by the government to remain afloat.

However, with partial lockdown across the nation and the globe, it is the best time for publishers to spike their sales by going completely electronic. Publishers can also tap into home delivery concept for the general readers holed up at home.

They can borrow a leaf from the media groups that are trying to activate home delivery of newspapers as a new strategy to counter the pandemic.

Many e-books are very cheap as compared to print versions.  For example, Longhorn publisher’s e-platform were selling their books for as little as ksh20 before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. It is heartwarming to note that Longhorn publishers have now opened their e-platform for free access to learners who are now grounded at home.

This is a marketing coup that will eventually revolutionize the uptake of e-books in Kenya.

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As with new trends, there are those who are ready to oppose the migration to digital formats. Many readers are fully stuck to the physical books. But the new challenges calls for change of consumer habits.

The physical books it is alleged (not scientifically proven) may easily harbour the COVID-19 virus, unlike the e-books that are transmitted electronically to the recipients’ devices. It is time, consumer habits shifted. Bibliophiles must rethink their obsession with the physical book and go electronic.

Apart from safeguarding ourselves from the pandemic, e-books will reduce book miles of physical books hence reduce the risk of conveying COVID-19 and global warming effect.

Traditional publishers stuck in Gutenberg era will have to change to electronic publishing or perish.

The tumultuous events are redefining how we interact and do business. The rise of electronic publishing and the ease with which learners can access the internet will dramatically alter our education system and place e-learning as the central cogwheel of our fledgling education system.

Traditional publishers stuck in Gutenberg era will have to change to electronic publishing or perish.

The new changes will provide sites for both the writers and readers to connect seamlessly. The new virtual communities will enhance productivity and uptake of e-books unlike the physical books.

Brick and mortar walls have been decimated with the Covid19 virus, it is time to embrace e-learning for the sake of humanity and children at home.

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About the Author

Musungu Andrew is a Public Relations Expert and Marketer based in Kisumu. Email: [email protected]

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