New app takes African short stories to the world

Read time 2min 50sec
BookBeak makes it possible for African stories to be shared globally in the form of e-books and audio books.
BookBeak makes it possible for African stories to be shared globally in the form of e-books and audio books.

A new local app hopes to give African writers global exposure by connecting them with literature fanatics in SA, US and the UK.

Storytelling app BookBeak says it is the first African app-based platform to aggregate African short stories from published, unpublished and self-published writers and serve them to a global audience.

The app, available on Android and iOS app stores, was founded by three young South Africans, Kamo Sesing, Cam Naidoo and Louis Enslin, and registered under their business Atheneum.

Africans have been telling stories for centuries, passing nuggets of cultural knowledge and heritage from one generation to the next through fables, folktales and narrations.

BookBeak aims to make it possible for those new and old African stories to be shared with the world in the form of e-books and audio books, while bridging the gap between traditional and digital reading experiences.

"We realised there are a lot of amazing African writers with great stories to tell but no platform for their stories to reach the world," explains Sesing.

"While many African writers opt for self-publishing, they often encounter problems in marketing and publicising their work. BookBeak draws from a wealth of marketing experience using social media, digital marketing and public relations, to widen the reach of the writers' content. But even more importantly reaching the right audience with whom that content resonates."

The app consists of adventure-filled short stories for both kids and adults in diverse genres. It also allows parents to create a personalised story for their children in minutes, by typing in their child's name to replace the main character's name from one of the many short stories on the app.

With Africa being the fastest-growing smartphone market in the world, Sesing adds it only made sense to build an app that could connect African authors to global audiences, via their mobile device.

"We also realised that many African parents have been struggling to find children's stories that are representative and relevant to them, so we've created a library of beautiful, culturally relevant African short stories just for children. This allows their creativity and imagination to flourish while engaging with the diverse library on the app."

The app is free to download, but charges a monthly subscription of R59 for access to BookBeak's entire library. The co-founders say they plan to expand to other countries in future.

Its most impactful feature, according to the co-founders, is its revenue-sharing model which aims to empower writers through a 50/50 split on revenue generated from BookBeak's global subscription base.

"In addition, there will be further tiered remuneration based on the number of story downloads each writer has. Our continent has huge unemployment problems and BookBeak will not only provide an additional income stream for these storytellers but also help them build their audience, propelling them towards future success," concludes Sesing.

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