The Publishers Association face probe after allegedly fixing textbook prices. Photo: Jason Morrison.

CAPE TOWN - The Competition Commission said on Thursday that it would be is investigating a complaint against the Publishers' Association of SA (Pasa) for fixing prices of books.

"The Commissioner 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.

"This price-fixing arrangement appears to be historic in the industry dating back as early as the 1980s," said the Commision in a statement. 

Spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said: “The investigation is going to unfold if there’s more information related to other kinds of books. But, for now, the information that we have is that indeed it involves traditional schooling material.”

The commission says those found guilty will face fines.

The Information indicates that Pasa and its members allegedly agreed to fix prices for the following: 

1. Pre-school to grade 12 books, associated teacher’s guides and support materials; 

2. Student textbooks, learning material, associated teacher’s guide and support material for Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges (TVET) at secondary education; 

3. Textbooks and other publications for learning at tertiary education institutions; 

4. Trade books (books for sale to the general public); and 

5. eBooks (Electronic versions of all of the above mentioned books). 

“Given how widespread the practise 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” said Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele.

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE