It has been three years since Cover2Cover Books started as “a good idea” in the living rooms of its owners. Since its launch as a publisher of South African teen fiction in 2011, with one title to its name, Cover2Cover has moved into a permanent space in the centre of Muizenberg, Cape Town, and has produced fifteen titles, including non-fiction works.
Cover2Cover deliberately set out to build a loyal market of young readers who are mostly left out by the established publishing industry. The publisher has built a solid teen fiction series, known as the Harmony High series, which has attracted a large, dedicated and growing readership of young people in schools and libraries across South Africa.
This flagship series, with seven published titles, centres on the lives of teenagers attending Harmony High, a fictional township high school. “We have been able to achieve this because of the partnership we have built with the FunDza Literacy Trust, which helps to distribute our books to all corners of the country,” says Palesa Morudu, MD of Cover2Cover Books.
The publisher established the Trust as part of its corporate social investment to grow a culture of reading among young South Africans. “The feedback from the schools, both learners and educators, has been positive, with many commenting that we have started a reading revolution,” Morudu says.
Cover2Cover Books has also written for the schools market. Last year, the publisher’s Best Reads titles made it into the national list for Grades 7, 8 and 9. Morudu notes that “this was a big step for us, and it has helped us to stabilise and look at other possibilities”.
Having established a base in the teen fiction market, Cover2Cover is now looking to grow its brand into the established trade fiction market. The publisher recently released In Search of Happiness, a new novel about a lesbian relationship in a township, written by talented young writer Sonwabiso Ngcowa.
As part of its growth strategy, Cover2Cover has also launched a new non-fiction imprint – Face2Face Books – which will publish new voices that tell rich and diverse stories of South Africa.
The first title of the imprint, May I Have This Dance, is the memoir of Connie Manse Ngcaba. At age 84, Mrs Ngcaba, a retired nurse living in East London, decided to write the story of her life. It is a gripping narrative of her family’s suffering at the hands of the apartheid regime, including her and her children’s incarceration, and her compassion and care as a professional nurse and matriarch. Above all, it is a love story between her and her late husband, and the triumph of family ties. Former editor of the Mail & Guardian Nic Dawes comments that, through May I Have This Dance, Face2Face Books has accorded space to the women whose lives were lived at the intersection of the political, the domestic, and the personal.
“This book embodies courage and strength, but is ultimately about love. Love of family, love of country and love of country,” writes Siki Mgabadeli, a radio and television journalist, in her review of the book.