Ann Donald kindly hosted a launch for Cover2Cover’s first book in its Harmony High series – Broken Promises – at Kalk Bay Books on 5 May 2011. At the launch attendees were invited to buy promotional copies of the books at R50 per copy and then donate the books to Cover2Cover’s non-profit shareholder, the FunDza Literacy Trust, which will distribute them to libraries, schools and organisations working with teens.
Teens from the Masiphumelele Ikamva Youth programme performed a scene from Broken Promises to great applause.
Educational specialist Graeme Bloch introduced Cover2Cover’s new publishing venture to the audience. He congratulated the new publishing house on its vision for creating relevant material to popularise reading among the youth generation. He noted how important reading is in creating an educated and informed constituency and said how vital it was to have reading material that would excite and speak to a younger generation of readers. He encouraged members of the audience to support the venture and buy lots of books that could be donated.
He spoke to some of the members of the Cover2Cover team about the venture. Dorothy Dyer reiterated that the business’ vision is set to fulfil a very specific need, given that there is a dearth of reading material that is relevant to young teens growing up in township areas. The response to Broken Promises – and the desire from teens for more books – is an indication of the unmet demand.
Ros Haden, author of Broken Promises, spoke about the writing process and how she gets into the heads of a teenager from a very different cultural background. Part of a writer’s job is to take on the mantle of people different to oneself, Ros noted. In addition, a character’s emotional range is universal and thus to some extent known. But, she said that she did draw on her own experience to create a fuller character. And, she also had some help…
Amanda, one of the students from LEAP Maths and Science School, who had been a “test reader” for Broken Promises, spoke about how she had read early versions of the book and provided feedback so that the background to the story was authentic and recognisable to teens. She said how much she had loved the book and how it felt that the book was really reflective of her life.
Speaking about Cover2Cover’s business model, Mignon Hardie noted that as a business they realised that they had to do things differently. She said that there were four major conditions that they were trying to create in order to achieve their aims. Firstly, Cover2Cover was trying to ensure that it produced the “right” type of books that would really get people reading; secondly, it was looking at ways to significantly reduce the cover price of the books, including through advertising and product placement; thirdly, the business was exploring new distribution channels to reach its audience better; and, fourthly, Cover2Cover, through the FunDza Literacy Trust, was aiming on leveraging mobile technology to build a community of readers and popularise reading.
Siki Mgabadeli, a trustee of FunDza, then spoke in more detail about the work of the trust and the importance of getting young people to read. She encouraged the audience to support the initiative and find ways of getting involved, through providing core funding, sponsoring books, partnering it in the mobi network and providing it with content.
Siki also handed a delighted covergirl, Nosipho Ntizi, her own signed copy of Broken Promises and awarded Amanda Mbali her prize as winner of FunDza’s first competition.
Thanks to all who bought books that will be donated to various organisations including Equal Education’s Bookery, the Ikamva Youth programme, Education without Borders and the Vrygrond Library.