Ouida House is easily one of my favourite bookish space in Lagos. Opened officially in 2018, they decided that, apart from publishing books, they could also create a platform that helps the books move fast. Ouida House has published many books including Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor and An Abundance Of Scorpions.
The Bookstore Interviews is part of Something Bookish interview series.
Located at 3c, Isaac John Street, Oba Dosumu Street, Ikeja GRA, Ouida House is best described as “a vibe”. A bookish vibe. As soon as you enter, you feel the calm and then the smell of books whips you into a frenzy. You might need the grace of a high power to stop you from buying books.
The store has a Creative Room, named after Pierre Cherrau, a friend of the house who died last year. This space is used for workshops, meetings, seminars, book readings, panel discussions. Even talk shows because there is a studio that could be used for recordings and interviews.
Basically, Ouida House is a complete experience: an immersion into arts and books. I interviewed the Marketing Manager, Ademola.
What is your favourite section in the store?
The nonfiction section. That’s where the stories are. Because, for me, I like to hear true stories of real people: people who are battling the same realities as me; people who live each day, pondering the same things that I am; people through which I can see things, feel things; people who are indeed, an extension of my own humanity.
What would you do if you had infinite space in the store?
We’d probably have a large events hall for any form of events, a recreational facility: yoga, meditation and general recreational activities. And maybe a wine bar. Books are supposed to go with alcohol, right? Lol.
What does Ouida House do better than any other bookstore?
We have a team of young, dedicated people, who are committed to placing the organization on the map of bookstores that are reliable for every book need. For us, this idea was birthed from raw passion, and the burning desire to ease the flow of books across Nigeria and the continent at large. As such, we place a very high priority on quality service.
Any trends or predictions for the bookselling industry?
Once the African continent is able to solve the inherent problems of distribution, that’s when we’d know that the boring rhetoric by foreign media that “Africans don’t read” is a fallacy.
What’s the craziest situation you’ve ever had to deal with in the store?
I don’t think I’ve had to deal with any crazy situation at the bookstore. But then, during Ake(Festival), you get to wear an armour of patience and tolerance, because, there would be a lot of people that might piss you up. But you have to keep your head straight, and never drop the ball. Always.
What’s your earliest memory of visiting a bookstore as a child?
Maybe not as a child. But I remember once, when I went into a bookstore with the intention to just look around, but ended up spending the last 15k(N15,000) I had in my account. That memory has stuck with me ever since.
If you weren’t running a bookstore, what would you be doing?
I’d be reading books, trying to write, and most likely frequenting bookstores, to get lost in books. And more books.
What’s been your biggest surprise about working in a bookstore?
That you don’t get to read as many books as people expect you to, because you work in a bookstore lol.
What is the staff of Ouida House reading?
Mostly, people are reading more of fiction. However, lately, there’s been an awakening of people’s interests in reading nonfiction, especially collection of essays. I think this is due to the fact, more than ever before, people want to read about other people; perhaps to draw strength, or to just be aware.
- Do Not Say It’s Not Your Country” by Nnamdi Oguike – Chiebuka Obumselu (Finance Manager)
- Open City” by Teju Cole (Sales Manager)
- We Need New Names” by Bulawayo NoViolet – Amaku Amaka (Bookstore Manager)
- Here Comes The Sun” by Nicole Dennis-Benn – Adefolami Ademola (Marketing Manager)
For more on The Bookstore Interviews, book reviews and bookish features, share this post and subscribe below!