Spike in copy sells of a historical novel leads a publisher to run the printing press
Ethiopia’s pop sensation, Tewodros Kassahun, has released his long anticipated album dubbed “Ethiopia”, thereby taking not only of a huge fan base to ecstasy but also triggering the renewed sale of the legendary Amharic novel, “Fiker-Eske-Meqabir“, literally translated “Love to the Grave”.
The publisher of the book, Mega Printing Enterprise, supplied 10,000 copies of the book first published in 1964 to the market, following the release of the album which industry sources said hit a record high half a million copies. Mega Printing distributed the books through its 32 outlets after the title of one Teddy’s songs, “Mar-eske-tuaf“, had leaked before the release of the album two weeks ago, leading retail price of the book to jump by 10 Birr, from its original 91 Birr.
Authored by the acclaimed author, Haddis Alemayehu, the novel remains highly popular among successive generations of Ethiopians. It is also a subject of studies by literary students for decades. One of such students is Molla Feleke who has taken an interest in the book for his post-graduate studies thesis at the Addis Ababa University, in 2008.
Molla writes: The novel “presents a panoramic picture of traditional Ethiopian society with a prophetic vision of change and a defiant voice that speaks out against feudal despotism, exploitation and ignorance.”
Popularly known as Teddy Afro, the performer played a powerful lyrics highlighting one of the main characters in the novel, Bezabih, in a seven-minute song. The music promoted many Ethiopians to rush to buy the book, flocking to book vendors across the city.
Yonas Tefera, a bookseller, located in an area near the National Theater, sold two-third of the 300 copies in three days he received from the publishers on Tuesday, May 9, 2017.
“I’m now left only with few copies,” Yonas told Fortune last Friday.
It is one of the times when demand for books surges, according to managers of the publishing company which has a contract with the family of the author to reprint the book, paying royalty fees to them.