Royalties blamed for textbook wrangle

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 April, 2011, 12:00am


The row over textbook prices dragged on yesterday, with publishers saying it was virtually impossible to separate existing books from teaching materials because of royalties.

Wong Wai-man, president of the Educational Publishers Association, said it involved complicated renegotiation of royalties with copyright holders.

But the publishers have agreed to debundle new texts.

Wong also said they had not asked the government to subsidise their business or cover losses if they 'debundled' the sale of textbooks and teaching materials.

'We have not asked the government to cover our business losses,' he said.

'We only want the government to provide resources for schools to purchase the teaching materials.'

He said the publishers still hoped to have further discussions with the government on the issue.

All 20 major publishers in Hong Kong this week announced a 3 to 5 per cent rise in textbook prices.

This has angered officials since they had hoped that debundling would be introduced, leading to cheaper prices for parents who would no longer have to pay for teaching materials.

The Education Bureau announced on March 10 that it had reached an agreement with publishers on the plan.

Undersecretary for Education Chen Wei-on then said on Tuesday the publishers had asked for HK$150 million extra funding to cover any loss in revenue.

A bureau spokesman said last night new textbooks accounted for just 5 per cent of textbooks.

'It will not lessen the burden on parents if debundling is confined to only new textbooks,' he said.