Angela Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
MATABELELAND booksellers have expressed concern over book publishers who are resorting to selling books directly to schools at a discount.
The booksellers raised concern on Thursday during the launch of primary and secondary school new curriculum text books by a publishing company, Gramsol Publishing at a local lodge.
The publishing company launched a series of primary text books titled “Let’s do” which cut across all learning areas and covers all levels.
The occasion that was graced by National Association of Primary School Heads (Naph) Bulawayo provincial chairperson Mr Bongani Sibanda was attended by about 37 booksellers from Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo provinces.
Each bookshop received 10 book samples for different learning areas which were authored by Zimbabwean authors who are also teachers at local schools.
One of the book sellers emphasised that when publishers bypass them, they are disadvantaging the whole industry as well as authors.
“When they choose to sell to schools at a discount, it means that us as book sellers we no longer have customers as we will have put our mark-up prizes,” she said.
“Next time when publishers want to introduce a new book, we drag behind in terms of helping them so it is better if we go back to the old way of publishers just publishing and letting book sellers do the distribution.”
Gramsol publishing Chairperson Mr Tafadzwa Sandura said the engagement of booksellers in this particular launch was influenced by positive feedback from schools that had used their book samples.
“From the samples that we gave out to some schools, we felt that there was need to engage the book sellers since they are our distributors and they play a crucial role in helping us market our products,” he said.
Mr Sandura assured book sellers’ associations that his company will honour their partnership and desist from selling books directly to schools and individuals at a discount.
“As publishers, we have a mandate to discount only when we are selling to book sellers but if a need arises, we do sell to schools but without any discount,” he added.
The Chairperson for Booksellers Association of Zimbabwe Mr Paul Masuku expressed concern over book pirates who are roaming the streets selling photocopied books at a cheaper prize.
“Piracy is another big setback that we face as book sellers and the laws against it are not that tight because a pirate can be arrested today, you will see them back to business the following day,” said Mr Masuku.