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South African Book Fair

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The Impact of the eBook Phenomenon on South African Education

The hotly debated topic “The future of eBooks: the impact of the digital eBook phenomenon” will be the key focus at this year’s South African Book Fair, where the impact of eBooks in the South African education system will come under the spotlight.

Riaan Jonck, CEO of Pearson South Africa, a leading supplier of educational materials and technologies to the student and educator market (and a main exhibitor at this year’s Fair) believes that for the next five years print will retain a role in the South African education system, but that it would be beneficial for schools to start to incorporate a digital aspect into their education approach.

“While the South African market is expressing an interest in introducing digital content and eBooks, there is still a huge textbook market and there are a number of challenges to overcome before we can fully integrate the eBook into our education system,” Jonck says. “As such we have yet to experience the full impact of e-publishing in the education sector.”

Challenges currently facing South Africa include infrastructure to implement a digital solution, access to eBooks, digital rights to content, cost of digital devices, and training of staff. “Schools, colleges and universities need to be clear up front about what they want to achieve by going the digital route, as well as how they intend on implementing the measures required by students to access digital material. In addition, staff members will also need to be trained on how to use the device and how to get the most out of it,” Jonck says.

It is these issues that the Publishers Association of South Africa (PASA) is hoping to bring to the forefront at the 2014 South African Book fair. Mpuka Radinku, executive director of PASA, says: “As the premier event in the country’s literary calendar, we are hoping that the South African Book Fair highlights the potential positive impact of e-publishing within the education sector thereby opening up the avenue to a new kind of digital book retailing. However, this will require that South African publishers work hand-in-hand with the digital world to successfully reach the end consumer.”

Jonck is confident that should South Africa overcome the digital divide, the local education system stands to reap the many potential benefits: “eBooks are convenient and portable. They also foster collaboration as they are interactive and allow students to share notes and interact with teachers at a greater level.”

Jonck goes on to say that South African corporations will be crucial in bridging that divide: “South African corporates are already playing a role in education. Apple, Samsung and Intel are involved in embedding their products in schools and universities. As long as they are focused on achieving positive outcomes that will support improvement in teaching and learning, corporates should be involved.

“The ultimate goal should be to encourage the coexistence of print and digital education material,” he concludes.

Previously known as the Cape Town Book Fair, the South African Book Fair is scheduled to take place from 13-15 June at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The country’s new, and now national, book fair provides not only unique and interesting insights into the publishing world but also a premier platform for the literary and publishing worlds to gather and trade, network, and exhibit.

Tickets for the South African Book Fair will be on sale at the door at a cost of R50, and R20 for pensioners. Children under the age of 18 receive free entry. For more information, go to or call Louise Barry-Taylor on 011 549 8300. Exhibitors can contact to secure their stand.


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