Free schoolbooks for primary school children—what are the implications for bookshops?
There is news today of a broadly welcomed move that The State is to provide free schoolbooks to all primary school children from next September.
While this is very good news for parents and children, it has raised questions about the practicalities of the initiative, and how it might affect Irish bookshops.
The charity Barnardos has estimated that for each primary school child there is an annual cost of €110 for school books. According to the Department of Education, €47m will be allocated to the initiative as part of Budget 2023, while the measure is expected to be permanent and ongoing.
This follows a pilot scheme running for the past two years, which has provided free schoolbooks to children attending some of the country’s most disadvantaged schools.
While all of this is welcome news for parents and students, initial concerns have been raised about the implications for bookshops across the country, many of whom rely on schoolbook sales.
Aoife Roantree, Chair of Bookselling Ireland says that the organisation welcomes any move to make education more affordable for Irish families: “At the same time, many Irish bookshops rely heavily on schoolbook sales to stay afloat. In order to protect the huge cultural resource represented by bookshops, schools should be able to source schoolbooks through their local bookshops to ensure that those bookshops can continue to support and enrich their communities. Bookselling Ireland will make a full response to the proposal when it has been officially announced and full details are available.”