The Competition Commission has initiated an investigation (complaint) against the Publishers’ Association of South Africa (PASA) and its over 91 members for fixing prices of books.
Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said that he had received information pointing to the fact that the association and its members (who are publishers, book importers and sellers of books to government departments, educational institutions, retailers among others) may have been involved in fixing prices of books in contravention of the Competition Act.
The Information indicates that PASA and its members allegedly agreed to fix prices for and trading conditions in respect of:
- Pre-school to grade 12 books, associated teacher’s guides and support materials;
- Student textbooks, learning material, associated teacher’s guide and support material for Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges (TVET) at secondary education;
- Textbooks and other publications for learning at tertiary education institutions;
- Trade books (books for sale to the general public); and
- eBooks (electronic versions of all of the above mentioned books).
This price-fixing arrangement appears to be historic in the industry dating back as early as the 1980s, said Bonakele.
“Given how widespread the practice is and the importance of the products, we expect the participants to cooperate with the investigation by, by among other things, immediately bringing their cartel activities to a stop and approaching the Competition Commission,” he said.