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The reason why the price of new textbooks is 2-3 times higher

Vietnam Education Publishing House pointed out many reasons why the price of new textbooks is higher than that of old books.

At the end of April, Vietnam Education Publishing House announced new textbooks for grades 3, 7 and 10 in two sets of “Connecting knowledge to life” and “Creative horizon”, applied from the school year 2022. -2023.

Accordingly, the 3rd grade book set costs 177,000 to 183,000 VND while the current set costs 58,000. Similarly, 7th grade books cost nearly 210,000 VND, higher than 80,000. Grade 10 books cost 246,000-301,000 VND per set depending on the subject combination, 80,000 to 140,000 higher than the old set. These levels do not include English books.

The other set of books, “Kite”, published by a number of publishers and the Joint Stock Company with Investment and Investment Joint Stock Company – Vietnamese educational equipment affiliated with Vietnam, also has a similar high price, even a little higher. compared to the two above.

Cover price of each book in the 3rd grade textbooks Connecting knowledge to life.  Photo: Publishing House

Cover price of each book in the 3rd grade book series “Connecting knowledge to life”. Image: Publishing House

The price of new textbooks is many times higher than that of old books, which is a problem that has caused debate in the past three years, when starting the implementation of the new general education program with grade 1, the school year 2020-2021. At the beginning of 2020, the Ministry of Education and Training and the Ministry of Finance have suggested that the units involved in the compilation, printing and distribution must strictly control costs, determine the price of textbooks to ensure the principle of balance. between business economic benefits and social service purposes. The Ministry of Education also recommends that the price of new books not exceed the level of used books sold in the market in the 2019-2020 school year.

However, representatives of publishers at that time affirmed that the price of books could not be equal to or lower than that of old books for many reasons, the most obvious being that the form, size, and number of pages had changed under the new program. In addition, books are made according to the method of socialization, not partially subsidized like second-hand books, so the cost is added to the price.

This year, the controversy re-ignited when the three new sets also cost many times more. Many parents think that the price of books increases to “dizzyHowever, the publisher affirmed that “the bookshelf is declared new, not increased” and “has minimized input costs to have a selling price suitable for the majority of families with children. attend”.

As the publisher of both the current book series and two of the three textbooks under the new program, Vietnam Education Publishing House points out some basic differences between the cost of organizing the compilation of new and old books.

The first is about capital. The organization of compiling and publishing textbooks is currently done with capital sources invested by enterprises themselves. As for old textbooks, the cost of organizing the manuscript is covered by the state budget and World Bank loans; Vietnam Education Publishing House only undertakes the cost of organizing the reprint.

To meet the requirements of the new program, according to the publisher, textbooks have been carefully invested in manuscript, editing, prepress design and experimentation. Because there are many book series published together, the number of circulation of each book is reduced compared to when there is only one series. The cost of organizing manuscripts allocated to each copy of the book will be higher than before.

“The cost of organizing a draft of an existing textbook is only about one-tenth of the cost of organizing a draft of a new textbook,” this unit confirmed.

Second, according to the publisher, royalties cost with new textbooks is higher than that of old books due to the competitive mechanism to find and retain good authors.

Tuesday, about book quality specification, the new textbook has a size of 19×26.5 cm, 1.23 times larger than the old size (17×24 cm). Books also change in the direction of visualizing the content, so it should be printed with more colors. Therefore, the unit cost of printing increased by 23% compared to old books.

Finally, the Publisher mentioned Marketing expense. When there are many units participating in the textbook market, costs for market deployment activities (marketing) such as introduction, supply of sample books, communication… are also included in the price. Used book prices are not allocated for this item.

Assoc. Tran Xuan Nhi, former Deputy Minister of Education and Training, said that the price of textbooks depends on the quality of the book, both in terms of content and form. Publishers have to spend money to invite experienced writers. In terms of form, books printed on thick, good, multi-colored paper with beautiful images and wide format that are easy to see will cost more than books printed on bad paper, with few images and colors. From there, publishers offer bookshelves and experts from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance will consider whether that price is appropriate.

“The new textbooks range in price from 170,000 to 250,000 VND, which is equal to 5 bowls of regular pho. Looking at the quality of the new books and compared to the current market price, I find the price to be reasonable,” Mr. Nhi said. determined.

This expert shared, For people in difficult circumstances, 200,000 VND is not a small amount. The State and units must support this group in many ways, including building shared libraries at schools for students to borrow books. The State supports part of the funding, and at the same time socializes and propagates with parents about the support of good books for this library.

New grade 3 textbook published by Vietnam Education Publishing House.  Photo: Publishing House

New grade 3 textbook published by Vietnam Education Publishing House. Image: Publishing House

In addition to issues directly related to publishing activities, The difference in the number of titles between the old and new series also creates a price difference. For grade 3, the number of books in the old series is 6, including Vietnamese (volumes 1 and 2), Math, Nature, Society, and Writing (volumes 1 and 2). Meanwhile, the new set of books has 12 books including Vietnamese (volumes 1 and 2), Mathematics (volumes 1 and 2), Nature and Society, Ethics, Informatics, Technology, Fine Arts, Music, Activities. Experience, Physical Education. This is also the book with the biggest difference in price.

The price of new textbooks is higher than that of old books, leading to a higher price of reference and supplementary books. The list of books to buy given by schools often includes supplementary books, making the total amount of money parents have to spend much more than the 177,000-300,000 VND published by the publisher with the textbook alone.

According to the Charter of Primary, Secondary and High School, reference and supplementary books are not on the list of compulsory purchases. Schools are also not allowed to force parents and students to buy these books. The Ministry has issued many guidelines that require schools not to force students to buy reference and supplementary books.

Duong Tam

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