Piracy Threatens Publishing Company

A WINDHOEK publishing company stands to lose over N$400 000 as a result of book piracy by schools in the country.

Patricia Beukes, owner of Mathematics and Science Care Academy (Masaca) Publishers, a family business that produces and manufactures a series of Workbook Guides, says her business has so far lost N$105 000 in revenue this year because of unauthorisised reproduction of books.

She says her business will not go down without a fight and has consulted her lawyers to seek aice on how she can survive the piracy and what action should be taken.

“The books have cost me over N$400 000,” she says. “Over 35% of schools are reproducing copies. The situation is getting worse.”

The culprits, she charges, are school principals and teachers, who she says should be leading by example. The cost of the maths and science books for grades eight, nine and 10, range between N$60-N$90.

Beukes says she started the business in 2010 with her husband, Abe Beukes, as a response to the country’s soaring failure rate.

“The books are meant to prepare learners for their tests and Junior Secondary Certificate exams and we thought schools and parents would invest in them,” she says.

“Teachers only buy one book and then produce copies and distribute them free of charge to their learners. Meanwhile, I sit with over eighty boxes of 3 700 new books in my garage that nobody wants to buy,” laments Beukes.

A meeting with the headmaster of Windhoek High School, Hawi Engels, last week did not go well.

“He (Engels) said he could not promise that the piracy of my books will not continue as he promised me last year but did not stick to his word. He did however say he will talk with his staff,” says Beukes.

Beukes declined to name the other schools she accuses of piracy, saying she wanted to talk to them about the issue first.

Engels said that after his meeting with Beukes, several teachers at his school told him they only made copies for poor learners who could not afford the books.

“It really is an issue between Beukes and the teachers. I don’t want to be involved and I cannot make promises on behalf of teachers,” he said, adding that the teachers in question should take responsibility.

Two of Masaca’s main distributors, Edumeds, which is the leading retailer for school books in the country and Karnic Distributors have stopped ordering the books due to poor sales.

A salesperson at Edumeds confirmed that there has been a steady decline in the sale of books.

“Schools don’t really buy books because they expect government to buy it for them,” she said.

Beukes says she has received overwhelming feedback from school communities that she claims have reported good grades from pupils using her books.

“There are a few schools that go out of their way to buy the books and they have reported improvements in results,” she said.

Source : The Namibian