Textbook piracy costs publishers Sh200 million a year

Capital markets

Textbook piracy costs publishers Sh200 million a year


Some of the pirated school books of different publishers that were discovered during the raid on the printing presses involved in the illegal printing of publishing books. PHOTO | FRANJO NDERITU | NMG

Publishers are losing up to Sh200 million a year due to piracy of uploaded books, amid revelations that the culprits have upgraded printing to offshore.

The Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) notes that secondary school textbooks are one of the fast-changing learning materials targeted by unscrupulous traders.

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“Pirating secondary school textbooks is costing publishers up to Sh200 a year and it is no longer a side street,” said Kamau Kiarie, KPA president.

The revelations come as Form Ones prepare to submit to schools starting January 30, with complete books on their must-requirement list.

Piracy has increased in the recent past with copies priced at the same price as the originals, although publishers lament the pending lawsuits that have dragged through the courts for years.

In Kenya, the maximum preferred time limit for the completion of a case is one year from the date of filing, and any claim overdue is considered to be in arrears.

Mr. Kiarie notes that pirated books contain errors that occur when scanning original copies, misleading students.

Some of the books have content crammed with old editions, which have been incorporated into the covers of current editions,

“We suspect that some corrupt major booksellers are also involved in vice,” he said.

Unscrupulous dealers exploit the technology to copy books that closely resemble the original prints, sell them through bookstores, street vendors or directly to parents and schools, leaving publishers to count their losses.

Publishing is a major investment in content creation, editorial work, hiring book designers, storage, marketing, and legal and financial aspects such as paying royalties to book authors.

Mr Kiarie said textbook piracy had reduced significantly when the government introduced direct procurement of study materials in 2015 which cut brokers out of the textbook supply chain.

The state supplies textbooks directly to schools with the goal of achieving a 1:1 textbook-to-pupil ratio to improve learning.

Before that policy, the government would send funding to schools and leave it to principals to buy books for the institutions.

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This approach led to brokers infiltrating the supply chain, drawing in school principals who, in defiance of prescribed procurement laws, tendered books to them.

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