About Us

The History of A Novel Idea

From humble storefront beginnings in 1992, inside a converted shipping container in the very first shopping mall in Dar es Salaam, A Novel Idea has grown into Tanzania’s number one book store and gift shop, with locations in Dar es Salaam and Arusha as well as online shopping, serving customers worldwide.

A Novel Idea’s roots began in, what is now, Seacliff  Village, where Sarah and Paul Clithero, encouraged by fellow expat friends and Tanzanians in need of books, installed a 20’ shipping container, on the center square a week before Christmas. The container was fitted with large glass windows, $20,000 worth of books with a one-way line through them and topped with a mkuti roof. The venture proved so successful that when the area  developed, Sarah and Paul moved to a fixed shop in the nearby Msasani Slipway.

The Msasani Slipway store, A Novel Idea’s headquarters still today, was created with a unique recipe that worked: books, imported gifts and locally made gifts, all on the same shelves. The synergy was beyond what they expected, books drove the sales of gifts and visa versa. Had separate stores been set-up for each they wouldn’t get half of the total business.

Paul and Sarah went for vacation in Arusha one summer and enjoyed their experience so much so that they opened a book and gift store in the Arusha TFA centre in 2009 to serve the community of ex-pats there and promote reading culture in inland Tanzania.

In 2015 A Novel Idea went online with the goal to make reading even more accessible for the whole of Tanzania. The website was created to make online ordering as easy as possible and as accessible as possible, offering delivery to PO Boxes and various pick-up locations in rural and regional areas. A Novel Idea is currently in the process of listing the entire inventory online, adding hundreds of new titles and gifts weekly and setting-up additional pick-up locations nationwide. The online store also offers shipping worldwide, ideal for shopping for unique gifts and titles, exclusively sold by A Novel Idea.

A Novel Idea’s distinctive synergy today underpins two full-service bookstores and anovelidea.co.tz. Whatever your interest or passion, you’ll find something interesting in our book and giftshop full of delights.