Want To Register Your Book? Here’s How

In recent years, Kenya has experienced a surge in local writers, content creators, and novelists (among others).
The notion that only the “mzungu” can author a captivating book is slowly and surely fading away. The Kenyan author will soon become a bestseller, at least in Africa and possibly far beyond.

But before we hit the spotlight, it’s important to recognize and comply with the set regulations. So, how does one register a book?

Section 2 of the Copyright Act defines literary work to include plays, stage directions, broadcasting scripts, textbooks and essays among other literally works.

An author has the exclusive right to control acts of reproduction, distribution and broadcasting (with lawful exceptions) of his or her works.

The author of a published book should be able to enjoy both moral and economic rights that relate to the book. What are these moral and economic rights you ask?

Moral rights are recognized or “bragging” rights. They are independent rights and cannot be transferred to third parties.

Economic rights, as the term suggests, are the commercial aspects of literal works that accrue to the author, unlike moral rights, economic rights are transmissible to third parties. These may include right to assign and license the literary work to a third party.

How to register your book.

The requirements for authors is two-fold. Whereas registration under the Copyright Act is discretionary, registration of a book under the Kenya Books & Newspapers Act (the ‘Act’) is mandatory. The beauty in the latter is that the burden has been shifted from the author to the publisher (unless it refers to the same person).

Every book printed and published in Kenya should be deposited to and registered by the Registrar of Books & Newspapers (the ‘Registrar’). If you are a Publisher, here’s how to register the author’s book(s).

  • Within 14 days after publication, the Publisher should deliver 3 copies of the published book and a duly filled Form 1. These being 2 copies for the Registrar and 1 return copy.
  • The Publisher should also deliver 3 more copies to the Director of Kenya National Library Service (the Director). Both the Registrar and Director shall acknowledge receipt in writing to the Publisher.
  • The copies should be whole as intended for the market. However, this procedure only affects the first edition of the book, unless, there exists any alterations or additions to the book in later editions.
  • The Publisher shall then pay a registration fee (usually Kshs. 250/-) after which the Registrar shall issue a Certificate of Registration.

NB: Every book and newspaper printed within Kenya should bear (in English and legible) the name of the printer and publisher as well as a detail of their physical address on either the first or last printed page.

Bond / Surety

Newspapers (including journals, magazines and related versions) are treated slightly differently.

Apart from the above registration procedure, a Printer or Publisher of any newspaper is mandated to execute (sign), register and deliver to the Registrar a bond amounting to Kenya Shillings One Million (Kshs. 1,000,000/-) with one or more sureties as required and approved by the Registrar.

Purpose of bond

The executed, registered and delivered bond serves as security for payment of any monetary penalty or damages imposed at any time against the Printer or Publisher. It serves as a cushion for any possible omissions by the Printer /Publisher.

How to execute the bond

The Printer/ Publisher should do the following :-

  • Duly fill and execute Bond Form No. 9;
  • The Registration is through the Registrar of Documents; (Ardhi House, Nairobi).
  • Pay the requisite fees inclusive of stamp duty – usually about Kshs. 1,200/-.
  • Deliver the embossed bond document to the Registrar.
  • Pay an initial return (as well as annual returns at the end of the year).

Exceptions to the above procedure and bond payment

The Act, through its Subsidiary Legislation, provides for classes and categories of books, newspapers, and persons who are exempted from registration with the Registrar and execution of Bond.

Sections 5 (2) and 10 (2) also empower the Minister to exclude any book, newspaper or any class of people from following the registration procedure and bond obligations.

The category is two-fold, first is exemption books/newspapers while the second relates to classes of people.

Classes of books/newspapers/ persons excluded.

All books/newspapers published:-

  • By or on behalf of any employer for distribution solely amongst members of his/her staff;
  • By or on behalf of any school duly registered under the Education Act for distribution solely amongst pupils of that school;
  • By or on behalf of any society exempted from registration under the Societies Act for distribution solely amongst members of that society;
  • By or on behalf of any Commonwealth commission or foreign consulate.


Pursuant to the Media Act of Kenya, the Media Council is empowered to levy all media enterprises in Kenya.

The Media Council, vide Legal Notice number 89 of 2017 published revised rates and levies payable to the Council by all Media enterprises. Of relevance to this article is the levy on Magazine Publishers of Kshs. 10,000/- per month. (Any Publisher could confirm whether this is the practice).2

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