The Education Bureau postponed the release of its annual list of recommended textbooks, due on May 8, after publishers retracted their book prices at the last minute.
The move was in response to a policy change on giving free teaching manuals to schools. The bureau imposed a deadline on publishers to unveil their book prices for the coming academic year on Wednesday.
School principals said the deadlock could affect their operations.
'May is typically the time when teachers decide what textbooks to use for next year, because by June, they will be very busy with exams,' Liu Ah-chuen, chairman of the Subsidised Secondary Schools Council, said.
On Monday, Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung said schools were allowed to take free basic manuals for teachers, but not accept free CDs, statistics databases or practice questions, which were more expensive.
Concern group Education Convergence's Chow Ping-yan said it seemed the latest policy shift showed the education authorities did not want to fund schools to buy teaching materials. He said schools would face financial issues if they had to buy teaching tools after getting them for free for years.
'When they have HK$500 million to introduce the national education subject, why can't they spend some money to help teachers buy textbooks?' Chow said, referring to funding for the new course for primary and secondary schools.