Book sales by publishers disturb booksellers

The Chronicle

Angela Sibanda, columnist
MATABELELAND booksellers have expressed concern about book publishers who resort to selling books directly to schools at reduced prices.

Booksellers raised concerns Thursday when new textbooks for elementary and secondary schools launched by a publishing house, Gramsol Publishing at a local lodge.

The publishing house has launched a series of primary textbooks called ‘Let’s do’ which cut across all areas of learning and cover all levels.

The occasion which was graced by the Provincial President of the National Association of Primary School Principals (Naph) Bulawayo, Mr. Bongani Sibanda, brought together around 37 booksellers from the provinces of Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo.

Each bookstore received 10 sample books for different areas of learning, written by Zimbabwean authors who are also teachers in local schools.

One of the booksellers pointed out that when publishers bypass them, they put the entire industry at a disadvantage as well as authors.

“When they choose to sell to schools at a reduced price, it means that as booksellers we have no more customers because we will have put our mark-up prices,” she said.

“The next time publishers want to introduce a new book, we lag behind to help them, so it’s best to go back to the old way of publishers who just publish and let booksellers do the distribution. “

Gramsol Publishing President Mr. Tafadzwa Sandura said that booksellers’ engagement in this particular launch was influenced by positive feedback from schools that had used their sample books.

“From the samples we distributed to some schools, we felt it was necessary to involve booksellers, because they are our distributors and they play a crucial role in helping us market our products”, a- he declared.

Mr. Sandura assured bookstore associations that his company would honor their partnership and stop selling books directly to schools and individuals at reduced prices.

“As publishers, we have a mandate to only give discounts when we sell to booksellers, but if the need arises, we sell to schools but without any discounts,” he added.

Zimbabwe Booksellers Association President Paul Masuku expressed concern about book pirates roaming the streets selling photocopied books at a cheaper price.

“Piracy is another big setback that we face as booksellers and the laws against it are not that strict because a pirate can be arrested today, you will see them go back to business the next day,” Mr. Masuku.

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