Christian publishing in French-speaking Africa is expanding thanks to young leaders like Georges Laté, production manager of InterVarsity-related Presses Bibliques Africaines (PBA) in Benin. Laté describes his publishing journey in an interview with MAI staff intern Nicki Consoli.
Q: How did you get involved in Christian publishing? After completing my studies in marketing communication and journalism in August 2008, I answered the call of God to join the team of Éditions PBA as a marketing and sales person. In that moment, I had no idea that I would become publisher.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as a publisher? Every one of our challenges is big, but I would cite three of them: a lack of basic training in publishing, the low purchasing power of our readers and potential readers, and the lack of a reliable international distribution network.
Q: How have you tried to expand your publishing reach into all of Francophone Africa? Prior to my arrival, the PBA team began launching new books in different African capital cities. Authors were invited to give a conference on one of the topics in their books. This was to attract potential readers and give the author the opportunity to promote their books. I am also in the process of building a partnership with Livre’Afrique to assist us in distribution, and have initiated a partnership with the 19 IFES French-speaking Africa national directors for official representation in their countries.
Q: What is your vision for developing local authors? I identified those who showed an interest in writing. We have already held two writer workshops to give them basic training. We also created an online forum to continue discussions with them and for them to share their writings for corrections.
Q: How have you seen God’s guidance in choosing what to publish? We are very selective in choosing what to publish so that it meets our editorial standards. So far, God has helped us to choose the titles that will affect and positively transform our readers. The numerous testimonies from readers are a sign of this success. Our primary goal is to publish books that will transform students and graduates for life. Until now, God has guided the publishing committee and me in sorting the manuscripts.
Q: What has been your most successful book published so far, and why? This is Découvrir la Volonté de Dieu (Finding God’s Will) by Colin Hamer. This book, translated from English, is a blessing to the evangelical church in Africa today. The theme is relevant and addresses one of the main challenges for the African church. We launched it in Benin and Burkina Faso in 2013, and it has attracted many readers. We are planning a discussion for readers to meet and talk about this book.
Q: Are you involved in other ministries besides publishing? How do you manage your time between these multiple ministries? Yes, before coming to PBA I worked with Radio Maranatha, where I still lead a youth radio program. I am also the leader of a local students’ church. I work full-time in publishing and serve at the radio and church on weekends.
Q: What gives you the greatest satisfaction in your publishing ministry? I get testimonials from readers who were healed or enlightened by reading one of our books. It gives me joy and a sense of being useful to my generation. I am also very happy to be in publishing because I read and learn a lot about God and His message to mankind. I think I am in the right place.
MAI provides training for global Christian publishers with two goals: 1) to help them become financially self-sustaining, and 2) to encourage them to find and publish more local authors.