Success Stories from AAU Annual Research Week-2021 and the Book Fair

Addis Ababa University (AAU) held its Annual Research Week embellished with different occasions including technology exhibition, panel discussion on duties during transition, job and book fairs at the main campus last week.

Professor Tassew Weldehanna, President of the University, and Mitike Molla (PhD), VP for Research and Technology Transfer of AAU, stated in their closing remarks that this year’s research week was very successful beyond expectations.

They explained that the panel discussions focused on Political Economy during Transition, Transition during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Transition and the Election, were very transparent and participatory in which useful and timely ideas were freely reflected among the participants.

The new technological innovations displayed in the exhibition were very important to alleviate different problems of the society and shall be reached to investors, employers and the society as a whole, they said.

Alemseged Beldados (PhD), Director of the AAU Press, regarding the Book Fair told to the staff reporter as follow:

The AAU Press publishes books contributed by teachers and researchers of the University and prominent writers outside AAU with respect to the dignity of the University.

We sell our books or textbooks to students, teachers, researchers and the general public at low prices. The main reason we sell at low prices is because the main purpose of the printing press is to spread knowledge, not to make a profit.

We distribute our books in two ways to make them more accessible. The first is to connect with 12 major book distributors and stores that take the books from us and deposit into the University account after selling.

Another way to make our books more widely available to the public is through our annual book fair. This has happened 13 times, including this year in the history of AAU.

We opened the fair with 61 different kinds of books, including five books we published this year. And we have also 6 more books to be published soon before the end of this (Ethiopian) year.

This year, we invited 31 private book distributors to take part in our book fair. We realized this was a great opportunity for the community to find the books they were in search of them before.

The book fair was an effort to develop a culture of reading within our community. The campaign was very effective for making many books be available to the community, including for sale.

We had three events in parallel of the book fair. We invited two authors directly to the University community to express their views on their books, and those who read their articles commented, asked questions, and had free discussions with the authors.

The first event was held with Tenna Dewo (PhD); a teacher in the Department of Philosophy of AAU and wrote a book focused on the current moral situation in Ethiopia; he priory presented some ideas from the book and then we had a discussion on that. Young people, students, teachers and researchers participated in the event.

The second was an event hosted to the `Yehabesha Jebdu’s` author, Techane Jobre. His book is very historical, popular, sought after and commercial that promoted our sale. He highlighted some facts from the book and they were discussed. He also promised us to give his part two of the `Yehabesha Jebdu` book to the AAU Press. 

The third was Children’s Day (Saturday). We invited Ethiopian Children’s Television, and through it we made schools accessible and brought children with their parents together. The children were made to sit among books and read various articles in different languages. Its purpose was to create a culture of reading, especially in adapting written books.

Participants from the private stores usually come with their own books, though some of them also mixed up what they bought from us. At the end of the exhibition, they asked us for 3-4 days extension. Although we could not extend the date for various reasons, we learned from their request that there was a flow of many visitors.

This annual book fair has taught us a lot. First, we understood how much the community loves books and we also have a reading community. We observed when someone bought books for 3,000 to 4,000 birr. This shows us that we need to increase the number of books we offer in the future, as long as there is such a desire to buy and read.

The second thing we realized was that it is very important to work extensively on children. We have already learned that we need to work harder to strengthen children’s access to paper before they are being distracted by technology and games.

Third, we had not been able to meet the needs of the community during those seven days. So, we have to talk to the authorities about it, and decide that it would be good to do it twice a year. In this way, we think we will be more likely to contribute to the reach of the demand.

Considering all these facts, it is safe to say that the book fair we conducted in liaison with the AAU Annual Research Week was very successful.


By: Abraham Girmay

Photo: Andualem Aseffa