Bookstores in Tobago are running short of secondary school textbooks with operators reporting that local publishers are not meeting demand, a problem they say is exacerbated by an unreliable ferry service which makes it difficult to supplies to Tobago in a timely manner, and getting US currency to place orders.
On Tuesday, representative at Gumb’s Bookstore in Scarborough described the back to school shopping season as “very bad.” He said there were many new books in the system for the new school term and the publishers were not meeting the demand for all bookstores in Tobago.
“Maybe they (publishers) wanted to see if the schools would use them before they produce a higher quantity but this has become my issue,” he said.
At Nelson’s Bookstore at Breeze Hall, Scarborough, a representative said sales were moving along but there were challenges in getting books for secondary school students.
“It is always a challenge because we are not able to get all the publishers to deliver, especially if it is a foreign book… Additionally not all shipments come at the same time, so we might get Collins and not get Longmans,” the representative said.
Newsday Tobago was also told that difficulties in accessing US currency was contributing to the shortage of textbooks and that local books were sold out within the first weeks of the August/July vacation.
A manager at Educators Bookstore, uptown Scarborough said, “many of the textbooks are new and it takes a while (for shipments) to get to Trinidad and Tobago and some of the parents need to understand that.”
At Pages Book and Stationary store, getting supplies of textbooks on the secondary school’s booklists depended on getting orders in as early as possible to be able to have them shipped to Tobago in time given the unreliable inter-island transport system.
Parents, meanwhile, seemed to be taking their time in shopping for back-to-school supplies for their children.
Keevin Nicholas, a father of one, told Newsday Tobago on Tuesday that that he had just begun shopping for textbooks.
“I am hoping to get all the books with ease because it is a bit late to start book shopping for back to school and this is because I was a bit busy with the Heritage events. I don’t have any plans to go Trinidad to buy any books because transportation will be problematic,” he said.
Julieann McDougal, a mother of two primary school students, said she had started buying books and stationary early to avoid the last-minute rush. She suggested a second-hand bookstore where old books could be bought would be a good idea as textbooks could be bought at affordable prices.
One parent complained that her issue was not being able to find everything at one bookstore. She said although the prices were not bad, could be frustrating when doing school shopping in Tobago because of having to check at various shops.
“Despite that I am now glad that there are more stores selling school uniforms for girls, in that way I don’t have to goa the seamstress every new school term,” she said.