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We report back on the SABA Annual conference, and offer some insights into the impact of Covid-19 on education and the Work From Home phenomenon. Download a copy

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Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, the winners of this year’s SA Book Awards were announced on 1 October as part of a special virtual Ceremony hosted by SABA, sponsored by Nielsen Book and supported by PASA. Over the last 20 years the awards have recognised books written and published in South Africa, as voted for by South African booksellers, and recent winners have included Sam Beckbessinger, Jacques Pauw and Sally Andrew.

This year a record number of booksellers voted for their favourite titles, in three categories, from a shortlist of bestselling titles published in South Africa and written by South African authors, as measured by Nielsen BookScan South Africa in 2019.

Shortlist for SA Book Awards 2020 – Adult Fiction Title: Death on the Limpopo by Sally Andrew  Sex, lies & Stellenbosch by Eva Mazza Zulus of New York by Zakes Mda Bare by Jackie Phamotse The Adult Fiction prize was won by Jackie Phamotse, a self-published author, for her book Bare: The Cradle of the Hockey Club. Jackie described winning the award as an honour, thanking everyone who has supported her over the years.

Shortlist for SA Book Awards 2020 – Adult Non-Fiction Title:Dit proe soos huis by Herman LensingGangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s web of capture by Pieter-Louis MyburghBetting on a Darkie by Mteto NyatiStellenbosch Mafia by Pieter Du Toit The Adult Non-Fiction prize was won by Pieter du Toit for Stellenbosch Mafia. Pieter thanked the booksellers and book dealers for all their hard work ensuring that books are available to the South African public, also praising them for continuing to encourage reading and the pursuit of writing.

Shortlist for SA Book Awards 2020 – Children’s Title (Fiction and Non-Fiction): Die Groot Jaco Jacobs Storieboek by Jaco Jacobs Zackie Mostert by Jaco Jacobs Yes Yanga! by Refiloe Moahloli Born a Crime by Trevor Noah The Children’s prize was won by previous winner Trevor Noah for the child adaptation of Born a Crime. On accepting his award Trevor said: “Writing a book was a very scary experience but turning the book into a book specifically for kids was even more scary because children have a very short attention span if your book is boring!” He went on to thank all the kids who read the book, the parents who read the book with their children and the teachers who […]

The 2020 SABA Annual Conference was held on 1 October 2020. The Sector heads presented their reports at this virtual conference. Highlights from these reports are included here and give an insight as to how SABA Exco is continually tackling issues important to SABA members and the bookselling industry in general.

The Academic Sector Mohamed Kharwa 2020 the year Covid-19 made us shift in the way people learn – from online learning, e-learning to distance learning – while campuses were closed under lockdown.  We have had to shift in the way we do business factoring in the use of hand santitiser, sterilisation, social distancing and masks as well as reduced staff. The country has been in economic decline before this but now, recession combined with issues around Covid-19 will make education a key target for reduced funding. Additionally, income from taxation has been eroded, putting the economy under even greater stress. The decision to allow NSFAS students to cash out their allowances for learning material was raised at last year’s conference, […]

The Library Sector Vic Lopich The library situation nationally is somewhat unclear but there are funds allocated to library services. The Conditional Grant has been reduced from R 1.48 billion to R1.17 billion. Provincial and municipal apportionment towards library purchase will be decided at a later time. In general libraries are struggling with creating protocols that enable them to open and begin servicing their communities but the situation continues to unfold. Provincial libraries in the Free State, Gauteng, Northwest and Limpopo and the Mangaung, eThekwini and City of Joburg libraries are closed. Some Provincial, Municipal and University libraries that are closed have been responsive to emails as staff are working from home. There have been several libraries making enquiries regarding […]

The Digital Sector Melvin Kaabwe When lockdown restrictions were eased after SABA engagements with Government, fewer customers flocked to Bookstores than to Liquor retailers! Strange times indeed!  Online sales of physical books are continuing to grow but less rapidly, and likely peaked in August. The sale of e-books was higher than usual across Academic and General by ±20%. Some publishers offered materials for free as a social response to the pandemic. Smaller stores and independents adjusted their websites for e-commerce and acquired social media shopping carts  for acquiring orders and as payment gateways and they used local courier services or even their own cars to deliver putting further pressure on their margins. Exclusive Books’ delivery was through UberEats reflecting that […]

The Trade SectorGrattan Kirk The South African reading population is both ageing and reducing. However, there are opportunities  for local authors and exciting prospects in new emerging market readers including children.  Covid-19 has had a massively negative impact on the general trade. The estimated General Trade book market (excluding study guides and dictionaries etc) is R1 billion down 23% from R1.3 billion in 2019, while the total book market is estimated to be R1.2 billion (R1.6 billion in 2019). SABA’s intervention (in particular SABA President Melvin Kaabwe) with Government in reopening book stores gave a much-needed lifeline, and inadvertently “expanded” the definition of what an “educational” book was! The major disruption to the supplier chain from publishers during lockdown was […]

The Education SectorHentie Gericke The academic year won’t push into 2021. The school year for grades R to 11 will complete on 15 December 2020 with a short break between 26 and 30 October. The new terms are Term 3: 24 August – 23 October and Term 4: 2 November – 15 December. Matric exams will also be concluded by 15 December, the department said, with marking expected to be done by 22 January 2021, and the results released on 23 February 2021. The new school year will commence on 25 January 2021 for teachers – and for pupils a few days later. In the Eastern Cape, Mary Bothma reports: “Schools with own funding are requesting quotations for budget purposes […]

Please join the 2020 SABA virtual conference and AGM – follow the link to the programme here and the link to register here.

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Dear Readers, Booksellers are the curators of our local community’s primary knowledge resources. This is more of a calling than a job. It is not for the faint-hearted nor those averse to risk. In fact, as with our compatriots on the front-lines of the war against Covid-19 in medical care casualty wards, few in this profession would be practising for the sake of self-enrichment. It is a higher desire than profit to educate our young, inspire our adults and exercise the minds of our aged. Our doctors depend on books, so too every facet of our lives is influenced by readership. If it were not so, every post-apocalyptic scenario would not depict freedom of speech and information as being essential […]

The Alliance for Academic Success sent a letter to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, requesting for textbooks and learning materials to be classified as Essential products during the Covid-19 lockdown. In this letter the Alliance extend their understanding and support to the measurements taken to flatten the Covid-19 infection curve. They, however, requested and explained why the availability of textbooks and learning material to students are necessary  and should be considered as Essential Products. [Read more]

Image: Evan Wise/Unsplash In light of rental obligations with no income realities, all SABA members are facing at the moment, SABA sent a letter to the Chair of the South African Real Estate Investment Trust (SA REIT) Association. SA REIT presented the retailers with a proposal suggesting they defer April and May’s rent and amortise it over the next 6 months. That means a rental increase of 33% for the next 6 months. SABA responded to SA REIT on behalf of all its members. [Read more]

Three-hundred-and-twenty-eight published South African authors, academics and readers wrote an open letter to President Cyril Ramaposa to make all books available for trade from 1 May 2020 at Level 4 of Covid-19 Lockdown. [Read more] Image: Jonas Jacobsson/Unsplash

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