Publishers help ease book cost burden for parents
PUPILS will again be able to pass their schoolbooks on to younger siblings under new measures being introduced to reduce the financial burden on parents.
Among the initiatives is an agreement by publishers not to revise any edition of a book within four years of publication, and that the book will remain in print throughout the four years.
A recent survey found that books for a child in primary school cost an average of €125 a year, with the cost rising to €238 a year for a child in secondary school.
However, this is expected to fall from next year after the Irish Educational Publishers Association (IEPA) agreed a new code of practice that means pupils can pass on their books to younger siblings and parents can sell them on the secondhand market.
The Irish Independent revealed earlier this year that parents forced to fork out for new editions of schoolbooks found it hard to spot the difference between these and the old ones.
Comparisons confirmed that many of the changes were cosmetic.
Under the new initiatives, publishers have also agreed to assist schools in operating rental schemes.
And they have offered to work with the Department of Education and charities such as St Vincent de Paul to establish a schoolbook voucher scheme.
Meanwhile, in another cost-cutting move for parents, publisher Folens announced it would be offering free downloads of past exam papers from its website in a user-friendly e-reader format.
Previously, papers cost between €4 and €9 to buy.
The IEPA met Education Minister Ruairi Quinn in the past couple of weeks to discuss what could be done to help parents struggling with hefty back-to-school costs.
John Cadell, managing director of Folens, said the range of measures would help reduce the cost of buying schoolbooks for parents.
"It was only in the last number of weeks that the code went into the minister and it will probably be the end of this year before the full impact of it is seen," he said.
"The code has a number of key items: one is that publishers would not revise any print editions within four years of publishing and that they would continue to keep those editions in print for a further two years and that publishers would assist schools in running rental schemes.
"We also offered to work with the Department of Education, and maybe St Vincent de Paul, in bringing in voucher schemes that would bring further benefits to the consumer and make sure that their money went further," he added.
He said rental schemes had been running successfully in most schools.
"As a publisher, we have always supported that. For example, we haven't taken any primary book out of print in the last five years and we haven't had a revision since 2005.
"That allows those products to continue in rental schemes and allows the secondhand market to flourish, and that can only be good for consumers."