Move to supply books directly to schools opposed

Students may end up paying more for

the textbooks

The worst affected would be retail booksellers

Bangalore: The Karnataka Book Publishers and Booksellers' Association is up in arms against the move of the Department of Public Instruction to directly supply textbooks, prepared and published by the Department of State Educational Research and Training, to aided and private schools in the State.

A spokesperson of the association told The Hindu that the move is likely to affect the livelihood of over 5,000 retailers and wholesale dealers in textbooks in the State. About two lakh people would be affected and the traders are likely to suffer a loss of over Rs. 100 crore, he said.

About 1.5 crore to 2 crore textbooks up to Standard 10 are sold by traders every year. While the turnover of wholesalers is estimated at Rs. 30 crore, the turnover of retail booksellers is said to be five times the figure as they sell notebooks and stationery items along with textbooks.

Earlier, wholesale traders used to procure textbooks from publishers and supply them to retailers who in turn sold them to students of aided and private schools. The Government only supplied textbooks to students of government schools directly.

The association spokesperson said the Government's move to supply textbooks directly through the Deputy Directors of Public Instruction (DDPI) may result in students ending up paying more for the books as private schools may charge more from the students, citing transportation costs and other overheads. Moreover, in case of loss or damage to a textbook, it will be difficult for the student to get another copy in the middle of the academic year, affecting his or her studies, the spokesperson added.

The worst affected would be the retail booksellers, who sell other stationery items such as notebooks, pens and other items along with the textbooks.

Now schools may sell the same to students at a higher price, depriving the retail traders of their livelihood, the spokesperson said. The Government, in order to save the commission offered to the wholesalers and retailers, is only burdening the students, he claimed.

He said that the wholesalers did not know what to do with the stocks with them. “We have invested crores of rupees by availing ourselves of loans. We have to pay our rent, employees and other expenses said a trader who did not want to be named.

The association claimed that the Government had not consulted it before asking schools to furnish the number of textbooks required for the next academic year.