Sticking to real quality
Rose Francis, former model-turned-publisher, says she will not tone down the seriousness of books she publishes in order to reach a wider market.
"I am not going to publish kiss-and-tell-books about who slept with who and where last night.
"If you want to share those stories with everyone in the world you can go to Twitter. I have a vested interest in the kind of reader the country produces, so other publishers can go the route of publishing books with easy to read content, not me," she said.
Francis' publishing company, African Perspectives, has a growing catalogue of books that deal with serious issues such as her latest title, Che Guevara. She has the sole rights to this book in South Africa. Its contents are mainly unpublished philosophical and revolutionary speeches.
"It was not easy getting the rights to launch this book," Francis said.
"It took me two years to successfully negotiate the deal and as part of that process I had to submit to an hour-long interview by Che's daughter."
Francis launched her career in publishing five years ago when she acquired controversial Nigerian author Chika Onyean's Capitalist Nigger, five years ago.
Capitalist Nigger, which instantly became a commercial success in South Africa, is a hard-hitting commentary on black people's attitudes, generally, towards business, and what he says is the lack of a go-getting attitude in life. The book has so far sold more than 50000 copies in South Africa. Francis no longer has publishing rights to the book.
Part of her book catalogue includes Wena by poet Ntsiki Mazwai, Empowered Native by letepe Mayisela and Sol Rachilo's first edition of his debut poetry book, The Nostalgic Waves of Soweto, among others.
She also has books by veteran poet and former journalist Don Materra, poets Lebo Mashile and Napo Masheane.
"Publishing is a rough terrain, dominated by big international companies that have no vested interest in the development of the country.
As small black publishers we still struggle to have our books stocked by bookstores.
"For example, whereas Che Guevara is in every bookstore in other parts of the country, not a single bookstore is carrying the book in Cape Town.
"We have to fight a revolution of a different kind to that fought by Che," she said.
Last week Friday Francis launched Che Guevara in Mahikeng in North West.
She launches it in Cape Town today and in Port Elizabeth on May 11.