UK publishers alarmed at textbook piracy

Stabroek News
November 18, 2003

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A representative of the British Publishers Association (BPA) says that the piracy of school textbooks in Guyana is the worst in the Caribbean and comparable to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Copies of pirated books are being printed locally and sold openly at a cheaper rate than those sold by the local franchise holders of the books.

Emma Bourne, who is attached to Nelson Thorne's Publishing House and to the Caribbean Working Group of the BPA, told Stabroek News over the weekend that the BPA was concerned about the high piracy of printed school texts in the country.

Sales of textbooks printed by British publishing houses are down by 50% from last year, she observed. She also noted that not only were British publishers, affected by the piracy but also publishers from Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

Bourne said that the British Publishers Association would lobby the Ministry of Education, the Guyana government and the international lending and donor agencies to bring attention to the situation.

She said right now there was no guarantee that the rights of the publishing company and the authors would not be infringed and that textbooks printed in the UK could sell in Guyana.

She said the piracy affected not only the booksellers and publishers but the education system on the whole as authentic publishers would be forced to review their investments in research and development.

Bourne said authors also had to be paid for their writing and given advances on their work. The bulk of their payment comes at the end of the fiscal year from royalties when the books are sold. When the sales are down the authors lose out on their payment, she noted.

In cases where the sales at the booksellers are down, Bourne noted that hardships were created for them in paying their bills and the lack of cash flow would limit their range of book stocks.

The range of pirated copies cover all the textbooks used in the primary and secondary system in Guyana. While most resemble the genuine copy the pirated copy of `A New Geography of Guyana' authored by Deryck Bernard is completely changed.

Where the genuine copies are in colour, the pirated copies are found in black and white.

Among the pirated copies on sale are the series of Nelson Readers, Caribbean Junior English, New First Aid in English, People Who Came, Student's Companion, Modules in Social Studies, among others. (Miranda La Rose)