The 34th edition of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) kicked off this Monday (today) in Harare amid calls for the government to prioritise the formulation of a national book policy that will deal with all elements of book production, dissemination and use in a comprehensive manner.

The process requires dialogue and close collaboration between government, publishers and all other component constituencies of the book chain if the country is to eliminate the menace of book pirates.

For literature lovers and those in the academia the 2017 edition of the ZIBF will definitely be the place to be.

While it is not all rosy in the book value chain because of various challenges among them digital disruption and piracy new publishing models are emerging in response to demand for real-time dissemination of information like the open access model and dynamic content.

The first two days of the ZIBF have been dedicated to an indaba conference while an exhibition which kicks off this Wednesday will be held at Harare Gardens from the 2nd to the 5th of August.

The exhibition will feature a writers’ workshop, publishers, booksellers and librarians workshop as well as the meet the author sessions, the live literature centre, children’s reading tent and the digital zone.

This year’s book fair is being held at the backdrop of a new education curricula and stakeholders have noted the need to reconfigure the ZIBF model in line with the new curriculum.

The country takes pride in its status as one of Africa’s most literate nations yet countries such as South Africa and Kenya already have sound book policies in place.

Officially opening the indaba conference held at a local hotel in Harare, guest of honour acclaimed playwright and author, Stephen Chifunyise noted a national book policy is necessary for the development of the book industry and its absence has fueled failures in a number of book sector initiatives.

Discussions at the ZIBF are also expected to focus on anti-piracy and the need to promote the welfare and intellectual property rights of writers and publishers and the need for educational institutions to embrace e- learning.

The 33rd edition of the book fair themed “Making the Book Pay” has drawn local, regional and international publishers but it remains to be seen how this year’s edition will fair, considering that during its peak in 2000, the fair drew 317 exhibitors from 31 countries.