Mariam Sule-Izuagbe is a writer and aspiring teacher. She was a Writer-in-Residence at the Ebedi International Writers Residency, and her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Ake Review, Brittle Paper, Ebedi Review, Arts and Africa, ITCH Creative Journal, and Litro Magazine UK.
Clearly a lover of books, she talks to Connect Nigeria about her online bookstore and her passion for African literature in this interview with Joy Ehonwa.
CN: How did you become TheBookDealerNG?
I had been nurturing the idea of starting a bookstore while I was in the university. That stopped being a dream in 2016 when I saved up money to buy books to launch TheBookDealerNG. The name was pointed out to me by a friend. I kept calling my suppliers “book dealers” and she realized that it could be my name.
CN: What exactly are the services TheBookDealerNG offers?
TheBookDealerNG is an all-African online bookshop that affords readers the pleasure of browsing through hundreds of book titles and making their pick, all from the comfort of their mobile devices.
CN: How would you describe your ideal customer?
My ideal customer is anybody looking to read African literature.
CN: What challenges did you face starting out, and how did you overcome them?
Logistics. I am still dealing with that. Most of the logistics companies are either over-priced or inefficient. I use NIPOST and I can say that they serve me well but there is room for better.
CN: Why should book lovers get their books from you and not bookstores as usual?
Because my recommendations are the best. You will keep coming back for more. Most people do not know that African Literature has evolved and is evolving. The website features African author interviews, writing opportunities, literary news and event updates. It’s nothing like Nigeria has seen before. I am always happy to show people a new world. A world that looks like theirs.
CN: How does it work; what does a potential customer have to do?
You can get on our website, create account, load books onto your cart and checkout either with debit card or direct bank deposit. Alternatively, you can send me a message on Instagram/Twitter @TheBookDealerNG or Whatsapp message 08102550106.
CN: If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?
I would focus on African literature from the start. I wasn’t sure about it in the beginning.
CN: What are the challenges of doing business online, and what are the upsides?
Visibility is the upside. I think my only challenge is expensive data charges.
CN: Which top entrepreneur would you like to meet, and why?
Afua Osei. She is the real motherland mogul. Listening to her, reading her, helped me define myself and TheBookDealerNG. She is the goal.
CN: Which book(s) you are reading now?
I have been reading Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi for some weeks now (I read slowly). Also reading at least three articles/essays a day online, and a friend’s manuscript.
Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at] yahoo.com