The government move to directly distribute books to schools has left booksellers in stitches, wallowing in huge debts over delayed payment. Since third term last year they have not received any payment.
Speaking on behalf of the Kenya Bookseller and Stationery Association for the Nakuru Chapter, Chairman Albert Kimani noted that as an association they have trying to have a meeting with the Ministry of Education particularly the Cabinet Secretary on ways and means of how not to kill the book industry.
“Bookshops are dying and in Nakuru here we have had eight bookshops closing. They have closed because their major business was with the government. In my shop I have four workers now, I had ten of them. In total, I have lost ten of my workers. These are people with families and they are suffering. In as much as the government would love to make a saving which I doubt they are they should look into the matter,” he said.
According to Mr. Kimani, booksellers have stocks that have accumulated for years, with books that the government is busy printing to distributing to schools. He noted that the government should have come with a proposition on how to deal with the books in their stocks instead of paying printers to publish the same books.
He strongly believes that this was a scheme by publishers whose books are not in the bookshops to find an easy market for their products.
“Chairman of Kenya Publishers Association has never had his books in bookshops but he is very popular in supplying his books to counties and the government. Anyone entering our bookshops now is just buying stationery not textbooks,” he pointed a finger.
Recently a convoy if books was flagged to a number of counties from Nairobi with about bout 12 million books. Yet no one is telling the public if the pupils are actually benefiting. There is a total lack of accountability on the supply and maintenance of the books something Mr. Kimani noted was very clear in the former policies on how the books were being distributed.
The association will be seeking help from the court to handle the matter in a much more beneficial way for both the parties involved.
“We have given millions of money in debt to schools because of our relationship with the government though we have been accused of looting. We are petitioning parliament to hear us. If need be we will go to cour. Only a few publishers are benefitting from this system, while others are forced to lay off workers to maintain operations,” he added.