The Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) has identified Nakuru County as the melting point of book piracy in Kenya, a vice that KPA says is denying the country’s publishers up to 40 percent of the market share.
According to the association, school textbooks are the biggest target as they make up 90 percent of Kenya’s book market and their sales are virtually guaranteed.
KPA Chairman Mr Kiarie Kamau expressed regret that in many cases pirated books are sold at the same price as the original versions, as few buyers can spot a fake adding that counterfeited books not only cause publishers to incur heavy losses but also compromise the quality of education.
Mr Kamau said some of the pirated books contain errors that occur during scanning of the original copies thereby misleading learners.
“The books also have poor binding and print quality. The text is illegible and unfriendly to the learners. The growing menace is resulting in the loss of employment for most professionals in the book publishing industry,” he said.
Speaking in Nakuru during the launch of Kenya Literature Bureau’s Grade 4, 5 and 6 Competency-Based Curriculum Encyclopedia the chairman expressed concern that illegal books flooding most parts of the country were creating a string of losses in the book supply chain.
“Most people think publishing amounts only to printing. Publishing is vast investment in content creation, editorial work, engaging book designers, warehousing, marketing, legal and financial aspects,” explained Mr Kamau.
“Furthermore, the government loses value-added tax on untraceable book sales, while honest distributors and bookshops suffer on low sales and, needless to say, authors lose out on royalties,” he added
He stated that an antipiracy campaign launched by the Kenya Publishers Association (KPA), the Kenya Copyright Board in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, the Anti-counterfeit Agency and the Kenya police was ongoing.
The KPA chairman advised parents to buy books from dealers who have electronic tax register receipts as this will keep the fraudsters out of business. He said that KPA introduced security features that help schools and parents ascertain the authenticity of books.
The event was graced by Kenya Literature Bureau (KLB) Chief Executive Officer Dr. Victor Lomaria and Rift Valley Regional Director of Education Jared Obiero.
Dr Lomaria observed that besides disrupting the publishing industry, piracy was also hurting Kenya’s knowledge base.
“Piracy discourages authors who want to make contributions to society through writing books as their knowledge is lost to the rest of us. At KLB we are coming up with security features (organograms) which are embedded in the book seal. We are also asking the government to write to all schools requiring them to buy books from shops which give them electronic tax register receipts,” he said
Dr Lomaria stated that KLB’s Grade 4, 5 and 6 Competency Based Curriculum Encyclopedia content had been regulated by the government on technical specifications through the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to conform to the new curriculum.
In the digital age, Mr. Obiero pointed out that piracy has evolved and copying has been made easier. Electronic files he stated can be created and spread over the Internet in a relatively short period of time.