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Despite the real problem with getting Nigerians to read wide and deep, there does seem to be enough appetite for literature to drive commerce that’s built around it. Perhaps it’s the sheer size of the country’s educated populace that sustains the market. Whatever the case is, one thing is clear: the bookselling enterprise is alive and well. That’s what you’ll find when you pay a visit to any of the Roving Heights bookstores situated in Lagos or Abuja. For the better part of a decade, this brand has supplied bibliophiles with the titles they seek. It has gained a reputation for being one of the most reliable businesses in its space. There’s a chance that you’ve been referred to one of its outlets when you’ve asked about finding a book that’s likely not stocked by other stores. And this perception of reliability has helped it gain significant traction. For a chain that’s assumed such a prominent place in its industry, Roving Heights is a surprisingly young brand. It was founded in 2015 by Adedotun Eyinade, Oluwatobi Eyinade, and Adebola Eyinade—all related (they are quite open about it being a “family business”). Not surprisingly, the store was launched with the aim of plugging a gap in the existing market for books. The founders say they discovered that the older vendors weren’t stocking in-demand African literary books. When they stepped in to tackle this, they quickly grew in prominence.
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Roving Heights started out from the Lagos mainland home of the Eyinades. They recall filling their dining and another room with books that they had acquired for sale. Because they sold books that people wanted but weren’t available in most stores, they became well-known over time. Thanks to word-of-mouth, they were able to grow their sales by a lot. At some point, they had to open a proper office in Lagos—the first of four in Nigeria. The business’s early success encouraged its founders to sell online as well. They began with digital storefronts on two of the country’s leading e-commerce platforms. Today, Roving Heights has an online store of its own, on which it displays its most sought-after titles, along with their prices and a means to order. Due to the aggressive marketing embarked upon by its founding team, the company has secured a place amongst the most preferred booksellers in urban Nigeria. As proof of its status as a premier brand on the literary scene, Roving Heights has held readings with major authors, such as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Wole Soyinka, Niyi Osundare, Chigozie Obioma, and Ayobami Adebayo. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also toured the store in 2021.
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The wins achieved by this brand indicate that there’s plenty of room for businesses on its end of the economic landscape to thrive. What’s required to make this happen is a decent knowledge of the industry and its trends, and the markets being catered to. There is still enough demand for good books to support the rise of more organizations with ambitions similar to RovingHeights.
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