As Malawi joined the rest of the world in commemorating the World Book and Copyright Day on Saturday, captains of the book industry have bemoaned the prohibitive tax hampering the growth of the industry.
Speaking in Blantyre during the event to mark the celebrations, Book Publishers Association of Malawi (Bpam) board chairperson Professor Pascal Kishindo observed that local books were expensive than those imported due to the tax on the paper used for book printing.
He said because of the prices, access to books was becoming restricted resulting in the shrinking of the industry as well as the reading culture among Malawians.
Said Kishindo: “People are not reading books not because they cannot find them but rather they are pricey. Production of books in the country is very expensive because of the tax put on the paper. As such it is books published elsewhere are cheaper because they are not taxable.
“So, it’s really the access to books that is why today we are reflecting on how we can increase access to the books by making them cheaper.”
He said it was because of the tax that most publishers were now crossing boundaries to have their books printed in other countries like China and India.
“So, may be if we discuss with the government and other key players may be we can have better and cheaper books for our people,” said Kishindo.
He said the book was at the centre of civilisation and literacy as such it was important to celebrate the day by reflecting on various aspects of the country including the culture of reading.
On his part, Bpam president Alfred Msadala said the current economic situation has also made the situation unsustainable for people to accommodate the buying power of books.
“We have an economic challenge otherwise we are still pushing despite the fact that the market is ever shrinking. But it must also be upon us, as human beings, to recognize that the book must be used for our own personal developments,” he said.
World Book and Copyright Day is a commemoration of the book and authors and falls on April 23.n