Piracy, technology bleeding book industry

HARARE - Publishing industry executives have blamed the demise of the book industry and its reading culture on technology and mischief.

Speaking at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) which is running under the theme; ‘Indigenous Languages, Literature, Art and Knowledge

Systems of Africa’. The fair opened on July 28 and will close its business doors on August 2.

The publishing industry has been hard hit by the economic meltdown facing the country as well as the rise of book piracy on the black market.

James Ginio, area manager of Zimbabwe Publishing House (ZPH) told the Daily News that technology has been a blow to their operations.

“Both technology and mischief have caused the demise of the publishing industry.

“When you walk in the streets you will find pirated copies of books which are of poor quality.

“It is clear that people are not concerned about quality.

“The other problem is in technological advancements. The guys who do e-learning do not care about copyright laws; in fact they violate it. You find them advertising that they provide e-learning facilities when they use books for which they never paid a cent.

“We are not saying we do not want e-learning as the world is progressing technologically. We are working on a technological system of our own.”

E-learning is acquiring knowledge via electronic media, typically on the Internet.

Ginio added that this year’s exhibition had attracted a low turnout.

“Sales are low as expected as well as the turnout, the environment is not conducive.

“Schools are not buying books, they are underfunded. Individuals are buying more books than schools and they are buying non-academic novels which is a disappointment.”

He added that they could not put a figure on the losses they had made already.

“The loss is immeasurable, as almost all schools have pirated copies of books.

“We can’t really put a number as the rot started way back, what I can say is that we have lost about half of what we are supposed to be making.

“The police should work with us to curb piracy.

The black market should be done away with.

“We need the ministry and publishers to put up measures against copyright infringement. At times publishers just sit back and relax and let the writers suffer.”

He said they would not bow under the pressure of piracy and quit.

“People might wonder why we keep publishing.

“It’s is a passion, it’s not just a job. Imagine destroying a brand that has been in existence since 1982. Instead, we are trying to adopt technological measures to cope.”

Another publisher who requested anonymity put the blame on the ministry, saying they were giving schools a raw deal.

“The ministry of Education is not allowing schools to eject children who have not fully paid fees.

“Now because of this, parents are taking advantage and are deliberately not paying.

“If the ministry works with the schools here, it can also help the publishers.

“The schools need to buy books but they can’t do so without money.”

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