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'Textbooks more expensive in SA'

But the Book Development Council says the publishing sector is not guilty of profiteering.

FILE: Textbooks are expensive in South Africa due to small book market. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Textbooks prices remain high in South Africa, but this appears to not be as a result of profiteering within the publishing sector.

Parents have complained they have to pay a lot of money to buy textbooks for their children.

Speaking to 567 Cape Talk, the CEO of the South African Book Development Council Elitha van der Sandt explained why books are expensive in South Africa.

In 2007, she wrote a report titled Factors Influencing the Cost of Textbooks in South Africa.

"Books aren't excessively overpriced for profiteering within the publishing sector. But in South Africa we have a very small market of textbooks, of general books and so on and that means our prices are higher than elsewhere."

She says a number of other factors influence pricing.

"Pricing also depends on whether it is imported or whether it is local. Another thing, the publisher might be selling under a bookseller who then has fixed costs. Academic textbooks are highly specialised books written by experts in a particular field and that obviously adds to the cost of the book. And also we do import quite a lot of books in South Africa."

She says South Africa should consider switching to digital books but admits this will take time.

In 2012, several Limpopo pupils were forced to go without textbooks for months after the Department of Basic Education failed to deliver them.

Section 27 took the ministry to court, forcing it to deliver textbooks.

The department has since vowed to deliver textbooks on time.

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