No textbook shortage, say distributors

National 3 minutes, 36 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

SHORTAGE of textbooks are not expected for the new school term, said the Brunei distributor of Singapore’s Star Publishing, which produces hundreds of textbook titles used in the Sultanate.

Booker International has received 80 per cent of the stock ordered, said its owner, Daniel Ng.

The remaining stock are expected to be here before December 25, he said.

“We distribute books to around 20 booksellers across the country. I’m sure most of the books are already distributed.

“In business, sometimes it’s very complex, there must be some form of credit control and furthermore booksellers already detect how much they want. If they repeat their orders, we will supply again,” he added in an interview with The Brunei Times.

Booker currently supplies eight textbook titles for the secondary level, and about 100 titles for the primary level from Star Publishing.

The books were ordered based on the previous year’s statistics. However, these predictions do not necessarily mean it is accurate, said Ng.

“No figures from statistics are correct. Sometimes it goes up, goes down and sometimes stagnant. But we have back-up plans. That’s the best we can do,” he said.

The owner said the number of books ordered also depend on how many have been purchased.

“We order more or less based on that, leaving room for a little bit of extras but not less. Other than that, I don’t see any reason that there will be issues,” he added.

Ng said it takes about 10 days for the stock to be distributed to other bookstores.

“At this time of the year, it’s pretty bad because vessels are fully booked and there’s the shipment cargo. Upon arrival, the authorities would need to check the books for clearance and then we need to unpack and send out to booksellers, so roughly it would take around that time to reach the bookshops,” he explained.

As is the case in previous years, there will be people saying they could not find certain books, but parents need to look for the books from other stores as some shops would have ordered more, he said.

“But we try to minimise this hassle for the customers and focus is given to outline places such as Kuala Belait and Temburong as they are far from the capital. Those places are given their stock already and I’m sure there shouldn’t be any problems,” Ng added.

However, issues arise when schools do not order certain books from booksellers.

“For private schools, sometimes they use government school books and some decide to use certain books for their school. So if they work with the bookseller, then the bookseller will bring in the books for them.

“But if they (do not inform the bookseller) and parents cannot find the books, who is to be blamed? If you tell me you are going to cater to a certain type of books, then we will order them for you, but if you don’t, who will know that. Then people complain as they can’t find the books,” he said.

Ng further said parents should take the issue of the shortage of certain books to schools.

“You have to draw a line, what books you have problems with, what is the book that you are actually looking for that you cannot find. I wouldn’t know what books you are using in your school. That’s when some customers ask why we don’t have them,” he said.

Ng urged parents to buy school books early before the rush.

He said some parents have started purchasing textbooks once they had a list of the titles.

“As usual people would leave it to the last minute, for whatever reason they have. There are some parents who would go on holiday and they would get the books early. The trend is always last minute, when bonus is out. But some schools only give the booklist when the school reopens,” he said.

Meanwhile, Head of Ministry of Education’s Publication Unit Hjh Norsah said they would continue to monitor the stock through cross-checks.

“We liaise with the distributor about the stock and make sure that it is sufficient. The supplies usually arrive in stages. So, it’s still ongoing and would be fully stocked by December 25,” she said.

The Brunei Times