Longhorn in deals to reprint Bibles and dictionaries

Longhorn Publishers has signed deals to print and distribute reference materials such as dictionaries, Bibles, hymn books and charts as it seeks to cut over-reliance on textbooks.

The Nairobi bourse-listed publisher Wednesday announced it had partnered with Cambridge University Press to exclusively re-print and distribute its dictionaries, Bibles, Scripture Union (hymnals) and charts from Cape Town-based Educat Publishers.

Longhorn’s managing director Simon Ngigi Gachomo said the company is banking on the titles to contribute half of its revenue in three years’ time and reduce dependence on schoolbooks which currently make up about 80 per cent of the publisher’s sales.

“We don’t want to over-rely on textbooks. These reference materials are not just needed by school children but every household,” said Mr Gachomo in an interview.

“We see this segment being the major driver of our business in the near future owing to the huge general market available to buy.” Mr Gachomo said the publisher targets raking in Sh1 billion in sales from these new titles over the next three years.

Longhorn said it had acquired intellectual property rights to publish and distribute these reference materials in Kenya and export them to Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, South Sudan, and Ghana.

Mr Gachomo added that Longhorn has also developed its own Kamusi (Swahili dictionary) and atlases.

Cambridge University Press is world renowned for its range of English dictionaries. Colorado-based Biblica is the publisher of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.

Scripture Union, an international Christian movement, owns the iconic ‘Golden Bells’ hymn book first published in the 19th century.

Longhorn will also reprint Educat’s range of posters and flip charts targeted at early childhood learners all the way to tertiary institutions.

The publisher has turned to reference materials after a streak of acquisitions to grow its stable. Longhorn in October last year acquired 15 school book titles from Apex Publishers, barely a year after buying 43 titles from iconic publisher Malkiat Singh in a deal worth Sh83 million in cash and royalties.

READ: Longhorn nets top Dar author for textbooks market

Ranked second

Longhorn in 2007 bought out Sasa Sema Publications for Sh22 million, acquiring 28 titles made up of Swahili comic books and junior biographies of African historical figures.

The company ranks second in market share in Kenya’s publishing industry and the deal with global publishers gives it the muscle to take on local publishers such as Oxford, Moran, East African Educational Publishers, Focus, Phoenix and Mvule Africa Publishers. The book seller’s net profit tanked by a quarter to Sh71.7 million in the half year ended June compared to Sh94.9 million the year before.

This was largely the result of book sales declining 39.3 per cent to Sh848.4 million in the period.

Longhorn firm listed on the NSE in May 2012 at an introductory price of Sh14 per share. The stock has shed nearly half its value since the beginning of the year to close at Sh4.75 Wednesday, battered by a drop in earnings and uncertainties surrounding the government’s digital program which is set to  do away with schoolbook purchases –its mainstay.