Braamfontein opens its doors to a new pan-African book store
Collectors Treasury is more than just a vessel for millions of books, it’s a time capsule of the stories that make Johannesburg. (more…)
By: Taryn Willows
Bookstores stand empty as many NSFAS students use their funding elsewhere (more…)
African Flavour , a new bookstore which recently opened its doors on De Korte Street, Braamfontein, gives students an opportunity to make money. by selling their published books.
The bookstore offers 100% local content with African books written by African authors.
Fortiscue Helepi, who co-owns the shop with his wife Nokuthula, said the only criteria they have for the books and authors that are sold is that they should be a local writer from Africa.
“We are not gatekeepers of stories, only marketers of them,” he said. This allows students who have published books to sell them at African Flavour and make an income from their literature.
Helepi said that the store sells books according to the price recommended by the author or publisher with the store keeping 30% of the sale amount and the author gaining 70%.
Masters student in geography and environmental studies, Mafule Moswane’s books, A Learners Guide to Academic Success and Katrina and Other Untold Stories, are currently on sale at African
Flavour. Moswane said that he “strongly encourages” students who are writers and have a story to tell, to sell their work through African Flavour.
“The store assists African authors who do not have a platform and we need more places which fit the vision to sell African books written by African authors.”
The bookstore greets you with warmth and smooth jazz music playing in the background upon arrival. Helepi said the store is their second establishment with the first one being in Vanderbijlpark. He added that the Braamfontein establishment was opened because they realised that people were travelling from Johannesburg to Vanderbijlpark to buy books.
“The vision for African Flavour is to create a market for more people to read books they can relate to,” he said. Helepi said that it was unfortunate that in our current society people invest more in alcohol than they do in reading.
He added that the challenge for him is to expand so far across the country that “a child should see a bookstore before they see a tavern.”
First-time customer, Amigo Makhubele, who works in Braamfontein said he was happy to see an array of books in African languages, but was especially pleased to find Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom in Xitsonga.
“This is good. I’ll definitely come back to get more books for my collection at home,” he said.
Wits Vuvuzela, September 2017, Jozi Book Fair focuses on women and literature
Wits Vuvuzela, February 20170 ,Drama for life needs your books
With dreads hanging over his eyes and a backpack, Moshe Mashela looks like a typical student. However, this third year BCom Law student has a cool job as part-time staff manager at a bookstore.
What are some of the challenges you face in juggling a part-time job and university?
The biggest challenge is time and energy. You have less time for school, but you manage your time properly. Luckily, shifts are flexible.
What are some of the difficulties of the job?
It’s retail so there are difficult customers. The worst ones try to get their way by shouting at or insulting staff. One of their favourite lines is: “Call your manager.” Most people are nice and reasonable. The women are pretty decent, although you sometimes get hit on by old men and women, which is not cool.
A challenge is when people describe books they are looking for too vaguely. We just plain don’t have a mental index of blue books with red writing about a lady or a cat, so we usually tell them there’s not much we can do without a title or an author, or a key word at least. No matter how vague a description, we’ll still do our best to help them find it.
What are some of the best things about this job?
Interacting with people. You meet really nice people at bookstores and you have to get to know them to know what kind of books they like, and recommend something else they might like. You also learn a lot from them. They end up recommending books to you. The staff, which has become more of a family than anything else. The books, obviously the books. And, I’m not going to lie, it helps to have an income.
Any funny stories while you’ve been at work?
There’s this little boy, he sincerely thinks that he’s a wizard, and is convinced that we’re hiding our “real” spell books somewhere, and keeps asking for them. There was a lady once who asked for a book she saw in a dream. People sometimes get mixed up and ask for books by Jane Eyre, or when the next installment of Anne Frank’s diary will be released.