Sunday, July 25, 2010

James Hadley Chase in Nigeria..

A company called Goodbooks Africa has bought the rights to James Hadley Chase's books for Nigeria and has republished them.

See above for some of the covers of the new versions. Their marketing gimmick has been to include soft porn images of black women on the covers. This trick follows a grand tradition for publishing Rene Brabazon Raymond's schlock fiction.

It comes across as a pretty cheap trick to me. Should images such as these be on display at children's eye level in bookshops (as they are at present in some stores?) Why have scantily clad black women on the covers, when the stories themselves have don't feature black female characters? More significantly, is promoting James Hadley Chase for the purposes of encouraging a reading culture in Nigeria the way to go?

I have no beef with Goodbooks Africa and wish them well. Publishing popular fiction is a good strategy to encourage a reading culture in general. But I question whether Nigerians really need to rediscover James Hadley Chase. Let's hope their next books have less pornographic covers and are written by Nigerians.


2cute4u 11:18 pm  

I would say that bringing James Hardley chase back from extinction is a good move, but the pornographic pic? That's a NO NO! These books don't even connote sex!

Modigliani,  12:23 am  

Tacky and sad, maybe - but hardly pornographic. As a child I was an avid reader (though my tastes ran more to Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle than JHC). I remember, in my childhood, regarding the Hadley Chase book covers with frustration. Suggestive but not suggestive enough. Having (to borrow a biblical phrase) a form of sexiness but denying the power thereof.

I think our children are safe. From this threat, at least.

Anonymous,  2:45 am  


Myne Whitman 5:57 am  

I salute goodbooks for going the popular fiction route, anything to motivate the young reading public. As someone who likes to recognize covers from what is inside the book, I do not think the gimmick is a great idea. Let's see whether their gambit works, if it does, the whole literature industry will be better for it.

Fredrick Chiagozie Nwonwu 8:55 am  

I disagree with Myne. Though there might be nothing much wrong with bringing back a good book, it is the 'book' choice that gets me. I would have being ecstatic had Goodbooks picked the Pace setters series (forget that I have a sentimental attachment to it) to republish. Going the Hadley Chase route makes me think Goodbooks are not really in for their stated aim - to improve reading culture. I think with the present level of Nigerian literature, republication of those old classics might send the wrong signals, that Nigerian have not and are nothing writing anything that would encourage readership. A very wrong notion, methinks.

Oguro,  10:32 am  

... once again mediocrity triumphs

Anonymous,  12:37 pm  

It is quite clear that Naijas have been infected by the British disease of nostalgia and harking back to the good old days. We all read JHC as there was nowt else back in the day; more importantly i was seen as a good boy who read books, though more Soyinka, Achebe, Tutuola, etc would have been much better. JHC did introduce me to the world of espionage, guns and girls. I think there are a lot more worthy writers that could be promoted, and with that comment I expect to be attacked for intellectual snobbery. Reading JHC was fun as a kid growing up in Lagos, but bringing it back? Naaaaaa......

Chinelo Onwualu 1:53 pm  

The truth is that in publishing, just as in advertising, sex sells. I remember reading one James Hadley Chase novel when I was a kid. I hated it, but I won't lie: what made me pick up the book in the first place was the scantily-clad woman on the cover.
This may be a cynical ploy to make money and drive sales, but if it works, it could open up the possiblity for something better. There is a need for popular culture books in this country and if this is a way to probe that market, I say what harm can it do?

Hassan A,  5:43 pm  

Another HiTv!

Myne Whitman 6:34 pm  

Fred, I see where you're coming from. However I have visited Goodbooks's website and they say they intend to look closer home with their next efforts. That said, they have to make money first right? Most big publishers make money from their few big names like JKR or Stephanie Meyer and then use the massive profits to publish new or less known authors. Nigerian publishers don't have that advantage, banks are not lending and money does not grow on trees. This is a first effort from Goodbooks, let us see what else they can do before we condemn.

Misstrix,  9:34 pm  

First and foremost, I don't see the point of bringing the JHC series back...secondly I really don't see what the fuss about the scantily clad women is. If I remember correctly the women were in the same stages of 'undress' in the older what's all the hullabaloo for?

Call me cynical or whatever but I just feel that this whole point of trying to re-introduce the JHC series is totally totally a waste of time!!

Anonymous,  7:05 am  

Bunch of prudes...LOL!

Seriously, there's nothing pornographic about those covers -- it is definitely more clothes than one sees on most of our "cultural" dancers and no worse than you see on most Lagos streets.

Furthermore, not every reading must be heavy, insightful or meaningful. Sometimes reading lightweight stuff like these purely for entertainment is a good starting point. Kudos and good luck to Goodbooks.

Iyaeto 6:20 pm  

Loved the hubby told me he actually got slapped by his uncle who thought he was into porno when he saw the back cover.I remember some titles such as have this one on me, the sucker punch,i hold the four aces etc.

Tai -Osagbemi Boma 7:18 am  

is the problem that there are partially clad women on the covers of the books or that the women are black? cos if my memory serves me right(and i'm sure it does)JHC books always had women in suggestive poses and they have always been at children's eye level in book stores.
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