First of all, book clearance sales in Yaoundé, for example, do not attract a lot of people. Proof of this are the sales organised in July by Librairie des Peuples Noirs and the publishing house L’Harmattan Cameroun in Yaoundé.
On the other hand, the International Book Fair of Yaoundé (Silya) whose 2nd edition took place from 2 to 6 June 2016, registered the attendance of 15,000 visitors; according to the Book Division manager at the Ministry of Arts and Culture (Minac). “Cameroonians read, if we can make books available to them”, noted Edmond Mballa Elanga, Book Director for Minac. Nevertheless, out of the roughly three million residents of Yaoundé, 15,000 is not exactly a record.
This being said, an avid female reader regrets that yearly book sales for bookstores and the French Institute in Cameroon (in Douala and Yaoundé) mainly interest only men. “Buyers are mainly found among students in medicine and mathematics”, a journalist remarks. However, during these annual sales, one kilo of book is sold at FCfa 1,000 only. The communication deficit is obviously one factor.
Another observation, Cameroonians relish community reading: a book will be passed from person to person in a household; to the detriment of booksellers. Cameroonians might read but buy less books.
The daily written press has one of the lowest circulation numbers in Africa: approximately 5,000 newspapers per day per publication when Walfadjiri in Senegal prints on a daily basis 15,000 copies. However, Cameroon has one of the highest literacy in Africa; over 70%. There is another Cameroonian paradox.