2024-05-22 05:16:12
Cheap books? Thanks to piracy books/market data

eKantipur.com – Nepal’s No.1 News Portal

KATHMANDU, July 5 – Surprised that you can buy expensive foreign books at cheap prices in Nepal?

It’s not that foreign publishing houses reprint cheaper editions for Nepal. The books are dirt cheap, thanks to a growing book piracy industry in Nepal – at least one industry seems to be booming amidst the economic slump.

Leading book distributors in Kathmandu say pirated books account for up to 30 percent of space in most bookstores here. And the price of the pirated version is often less than half the original price.

Take for instance, Charles Van Doren’s A History of Knowledge, published by Ballentine Books, New York. The original price of the book is USD$ 14, but you can buy its pirated version for around Rs 300. At least two pirated versions of this book are available in the market. Pirated versions of Samuel P Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, published by Penguin India, is so widely available in Nepal that it has rendered the original version of the book a rare commodity in Kathmandu.

The most pirated books are fast-moving college textbooks and popular novels for mass consumption.

Sophie’s World, a novel by Jostin Gardner, is a case in point. The book, published by Berkely Books, New York, costs USD$ 7.99, but you can buy the pirated version for half the original price. At least four pirated versions of the novel are available in the market.

Madhav Maharjan, owner of Kathmandu’s leading book store, Mandala Book Point, concedes that pirated books are widely available in the market and warns of their long term damage. “Students and readers may get books at cheaper prices, but the notoriety it will earn the country is too costly.”

He says foreign publishers can make available books at cheaper prices if the university here were to make a formal request in this regard.

According to a bookseller at Kirtipur, university reference books on management, sociology, economics and English are among the most pirated. Cambridge’s Meaning into Words, Reading Between the Lines, Intermediate English Grammar; Longman’s Plays in One Act and Literary Appreciation; and Oxford’s Elements of Literature are some college books that have been pirated.

When asked why he sells pirated books, he quipped, “Why should I fear to sell such books if others are doing it without any qualms?” He argued that it was difficult to survive in the market without selling such books.

According to him, piracy racketeers eye any book that can sell over 500 copies. Oxford Dictionary of Sociology and Colin’s Dictionary of Sociology have been illegally reproduced. So is the case with International English Language Testing System (IELTS) books.

Recently, boarding school books too have fallen prey to piracy. For example, Learning to Communicate, by Oxford University Press, and Essentials of English Grammar and Composition, by Sultan Chand Publication, have been bootlegged.

Book piracy has been rendered easy by new technologies. To reprint a book illegally, all that one needs is two copies of the original, a flatbed scanner, a computer and an offset press. With these facilities, any book can be reproduced in multiple copies.

The adoption of modern technology in piracy also makes it difficult for people to identify the pirated book from the original one.
Some book sellers in Kathmandu are also taking advantage of this and are selling bootleg versions as original books.

“If you are not aware that the book you are buying is a pirated one, they may even charge you full price,” says a bookseller at Bhoatahiti in the capital, requesting anonymity.

Piracy in Nepal has became such a serious issue that Cambridge University Press even published a notice a few months ago in leading national dailies cautioning the buyers against the pirated books.

Kiran Shakya, official at Nepal Copyright Registrar’s Office, says that there is a racket of publishers actively involved in the illegal printing of books.

“Most foreign books are priced beyond the reach of most Nepali students, and this has encouraged book piracy in Nepal,” he argues.

Shakya is of the opinion that if foreign book publishers strike a deal with Nepali publication houses, books could be produced at a cheaper price, thereby curbing the scale of bootlegged copies.

Rajan Sigdel, a student at TU, says that students like him, who are from modest family background, have been able to study Masters in English only due to cheap pirated books.

He has a point. For instance, The Bradford Introduction to Drama and Critical Theory Since Plato, both prescribed books, cost USD$ 83 and USD$ 100 respectively.

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