Competition Commission investigating book publishing 'cartel' over price-fixing claims

Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele has initiated an investigation against the Publishers' Association of South Africa (PASA) and its members for allegedly fixing the prices of books.

The price fixing may have occurred for more than three decades in contravention of the Competition Act.

According to a statement issued by the Competitions Commission on Wednesday, the Commissioner received information about the alleged involvement of PASA and its more than 90 members in the fixing of text books, school books and trade books, among others.

These members are publishers, book importers and book sellers.

"This price fixing arrangement appears to be historic in the industry dating back as early as [the] 1980s," the Commission said.

Many of those linked to the allegations were selling books to government departments, educational institutions and retailers, among others, the Commission said.

The statement said the alleged price fixing related to educational books including pre-school to grade 12 books, associated teacher's guides and support materials; as well as student textbooks, learning materials and support materials for Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges (TVET) at secondary level.

Textbooks at tertiary level, as well as trade books for sale to the general public, and eBooks – electronic versions of all these books – were also involved.

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