How the Higher Education textbook
industry adds value
A guideline for lecturers, academics, faculty members,
policy makers, education activists, funders and others
in the Higher Education arena
Publishers and booksellers are a key cog in the
value chain to help deliver tertiary education.
 In a changing and digital age, there are many options available
to educators who seek to enable post-school students with
knowledge & skills.
 We believe that publishers & booksellers are a vital part of
this education process, & and will remain so.
 This presentation provides greater insight into the value
added and the role played by publishers & booksellers in the
education chain.
What do we mean when we say, ‘Textbooks
are an educational tool for students’?
Textbooks ensure that a certain standard of learning is guaranteed as there is a
rigorous publishing process in place – for students and academics.
For students:
 Textbooks are written according to curricula in this country, by Southern African
academics. Where required, they are supported by textbooks sourced internationally.
 They include appropriate learning support, language levels, and opportunities
to practice skills.
 Students – particularly those entering higher education from schools which gave
unsatisfactory education – need support with literacy and study skills.
 Textbooks also provide students with appropriate perspectives and ways of
thinking. They assist students to understand local and global perspectives.
For academics:
 The guaranteed standard of textbooks also helps academics to ensure that they are
teaching at the right standard or level.
How exactly do textbooks add value for
lecturers and academics?
 They support lecturers by ensuring that the content,
data, reference material and applications are at the right
 They create revenue for academics.
In 2011 **, Academic authors earned R57m in royalties.
 They create capacity for academics to research and
consult instead of preparing lectures and creating
related materials themselves.
** Publishers’ Association of South Africa Annual Book Publishing Industry Survey Report 2011
Let’s talk more about textbooks.
Surely it’s really easy. Anyone can write and
publish a textbook!
Yes, but what about quality & appropriateness? Textbook publishers don’t
regurgitate unedited manuscripts:
They do research.
They commission books to be written.
They ensure the books are peer reviewed.
They ensure the books match local requirements
They distribute the books.
In 2011, 248 new books and new editions of Academic, Professional and
Scholarly books were published for the first time **.
** Publishers’ Association of South Africa Annual Book Publishing Industry Survey Report 2011
But what about Open Education
Resources (OERs)?
What are OERs?
• OERs are teaching, learning & research resources.
• They reside in the public domain, or have been released
under an IP licence that permits their free use or
repurposing by others.
• OERs include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks,
streaming videos, tests, software, or any other tools, materials or
techniques used to support access to knowledge
The Hewlett Foundation (www.hewlett.org)
Our stance on OERs
 We believe there are excellent OERs that can be used
at a post-grad level and are often a source of material for
research purposes.
 There is a place for OERs / OA materials as a
platform for research to be made available for debate
and discussion – no doubt, the ideas and content will
eventually end up in textbook after a thorough process!
 They may well serve as aids to a lecturer or student
in addition to mediated content and pedagogy in the
form of a textbook.
The potential downside of OERs
 They aren’t really free to all – OER materials aren’t free to
The curriculum content is not ringfenced, nor is it
guaranteed to be updated.
Despite some high-quality publishing, many OERs have not
been quality assured – or proven to be fit for purpose.
Given the wide range of OER materials available, an
uninformed individual is often not able to differentiate
between what is considered good versus what is
considered poor material.
In SA, we have the added challenge that not all students have easy
access to the web.
Textbook publishers create value for SA
students, lecturers and academics
 Textbook publishers contribute to the delivery of education
in the tertiary education sector, by publishing & selling
local textbooks and distributing suitable imported
textbooks & educational resources in SA.
 They serve as a key conduit to getting suitably vetted
material published and made available to students.
 They provide the necessary support to lecturers and
academics as part of the education value chain.
Apart from the learning materials, what other
value do publishers add?
 The textbook industry is a contributor to employment in South Africa.
Like education, it is a pillar of the National Development Plan.
 The annual turnover in 2011 from locally published textbooks was
R489.5m **.
 Academic publishers employed 513 people on a permanent basis in 2011
 They also create employment for South Africans in the freelance
editorial sector, and by extension, in the printing and bookshop
** Publishers’ Association of South Africa Annual Book Publishing Industry Survey Report 2011
What role do Academic booksellers play in the
value chain?
 Set up retail outlets in convenient locations for students and lecturers.
 Aggregate supply from various publishers.
 Provide the capital outlay to finance stock.
 Collate and analyse booklists from institutions to check which books are
prescribed, student numbers, & ensure sufficient stock is always available.
Facilitate the importation of the correct titles (freight & customs).
Distribute stock between stores & from warehouses to stores to make books
readily available throughout the country.
Interact with academics about textbook changes & student feedback.
Give publishers feedback from students, to improve the books.
Market specific products & titles.
Provide ancillary services and products that students need for their education.
What value do booksellers add for
 Provide students with easy access to textbooks through well
established, conveniently-located stores and on-line purchasing.
Provide professional advice and guidance to the students.
Finance debtor account sales, allowing students access to credit
facilities so they can purchase their textbooks when needed.
Provide aftersales service and support
Make supporting educational resources available eg.
Dictionaries, reference works, stationery and digital tools,
available in one location.
Maintain the information technology systems for
administration of bursaries and student funding.
What other value do Academic
booksellers add?
 The textbook retail industry comprises 21 booksellers
operating 94 bookstores in every province and servicing
higher education students, lecturers and professionals.
 The annual turnover in 2011 of South African academic
booksellers is estimated at R753m ***. Note this is all books
sold by academic booksellers.
*** South African Booksellers Association Book retail Industry survey - 2011
 Textbooks – whether in print form or digital form – and
written to support South African syllabi – are a valuable tool
in the delivery of education to undergraduate students.
 Booksellers facilitate access to education through stores on
campus, & financing.
 In a world of changing options, publishers &
booksellers, the textbooks they create & distribute,
are a vital part of the education chain in postschool Southern Africa.

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