Publishers defend updating books | Local News


Several textbook publishers defend the practice of updating textbooks to “new editions”, claiming that updates are only made to keep up with changes in the school curriculum.

The publishers, who spoke with the Sunday Express, say they are being unfairly blamed for high back-to-school costs.

It comes after much talk over the past two weeks about the cost of school supplies, as parents prepared their children for the 2022/2023 school year.

Parents have previously complained to The Sunday Express about the high cost of school books, saying schools are asking for new editions of a number of books and this is preventing them from being able to save money buying used books or by passing on used books to older siblings. .

Parents often said that the books in the new edition had only minor changes from previous editions.

Last week, the Ministry of Education indicated that there would be no changes to the list of textbooks published in the 2022/23 academic year for the new 2023/24 academic year. This includes new editions. The ministry also said it is currently in the process of sourcing an e-book platform and will conduct a review of textbooks, including e-books and e-resources. The outcome of the review will be used to inform policy regarding the formulation of schools’ book lists, the ministry said.

Golden Rule

A parent showed the Sunday Express two editions of a physical education textbook used in secondary schools which, apart from a change in the cover design, appeared to have few notable changes.

But publisher Rico Charran said updating and revising textbooks was necessary to meet Department of Education standards.

“Re-editing is only done when a substantial change in content is required,” he said.

“The general rule is more than 10%, but most often it’s about 20% of the book that’s updated…you’ll find that books aren’t changed or updated or new editions aren’t are created only when there is a change in the curriculum.”

Charran noted that changes have been made to the primary school curriculum in response to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“And as such, publishers needed to update their books accordingly, especially at the SEA level. When the Ministry of Education or CXC makes changes to the curriculum, they require a textbook change. This is why editing changes are made.

Charran said that while parents may feel that publishers are creating new editions just to make money, that is not the case as it is an expensive process for a publisher to make updates. .

“Every time you make a new edition, you have to take the old edition back to the stores. That means writing off stock that’s already in the warehouse, printing a whole new set of books, contacting all bookstores to pick old stock off the shelves and swapping it out for new editions. It’s a very expensive process and publishers don’t like it,” he said.

However, he said he understood the frustration expressed by the parents.

“What we would like is a more structured approach to changes in the curriculum that allows books to be used for a period of time before they can be updated or revised.”

Charran said that implementing an e-book system would make it easier to keep books up-to-date, but it wouldn’t have a significant impact on the cost of books.

“The cost of producing a book has very little to do with printing or converting to digital. It has a lot to do with editorial, design, editing, proofreading…all of those things that go into the book make up the majority of the cost. So will there be cost savings? Yes. But will there be significant savings? Not likely.”

Royards Publishing Company Ltd director Dwight Narinesingh said publishers do not arbitrarily decide to make changes to books.

“Most of the changes made by publishers are required either by the Department of Education or the Caribbean Examinations Council,” he pointed out.

He said edits aren’t frivolous, and new edits aren’t usually made just to fix typos and minor issues.

“A normal edition could be updated every three to four years. If there are publishers making new editions available based on corrections and that sort of thing, that’s not normal practice. The global norm is to revise a book every three to four years. Local publishers aren’t the only ones publishing new editions, we also have new editions from UK and US publishers. This is done more than ever in the United States where editions come out every year, 12 editions and so on. But all of this is based on substantial additions to the book. Narinesingh said his company recognized the problem and launched its own “Digital Canopi” e-book platform where people can buy and rent digital versions of books for less while tackling the problem of heavy binders.

However, he said e-books aren’t a perfect solution because many students don’t have access to the devices and many schools don’t have the infrastructure to make e-books a complete replacement for physical textbooks.

Frank Porter, publisher of Republic Readers books used in elementary schools, also weighed in on the issue, saying publishers are not responsible for the cost of the books.

“I was a little disturbed to hear that book prices have gone up,” he said.

Porter said there are also people who print books and sell them to stores without permission from the publisher.

“So when it’s time to pick up the books, I have to deal with books I’ve never even printed. I’m not trying to make money off of textbooks. I have been a teacher for 30 years and I know what the situation is. I believe in justice, honesty and integrity.

Porter said he recently donated some 12,000 copies of his books to various schools and the price of his books remained the same.

He too said that the updating of the editions is done only to follow the evolution of the school program.

“The Ministry of Education assesses books and one of the criteria for getting that approval is that they have to be consistent with the curriculum,” he said.

“Therefore, if your book is not in line with the curriculum, they will no longer use your material in schools. So it is in the interests of publishers to review their books in the hope that they will gain approval of the ministry and the acceptance of the schools,” he added.


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