Retrenchment at Longhorn as authors lose millions to piracy

Longhorn Publishers staff stand to lose their jobs following a restructuring exercise that commenced yesterday and will end next month, in a move set to save Sh100 million and bolster its capital base.

Making the announcement through a statement, group managing director, Simon Ngugi said the decision is aimed at enhancing operational efficiency and reduce costs.

“The process will involve a staff rationalization and re-alignment exercise aimed at fundamentally enhancing our operational efficiency, as we endeavor to further accelerate our growth.” Ngugi said. He attributed the restructuring to emerging challenges affecting the publishing industry in Kenya.

According to the Longhorn 2016 financial report, piracy and taxation have been the key challenges facing the publishing industry.

“Kenya remains one of the few countries in the world that levy value added tax on books. This is putting a tax on education, which severely hampers the country’s efforts of boosting the skills and education levels of its citizens.

We, along with the Kenya Publishers Association, continue to lobby the government to reverse this decision,” the report reads in part.

The restructuring comes four months after the Kenya Copyright Board and the Kenya Publishers Association seized over 10,000 pirated textbooks valued at Sh5.5 million in downtown Nairobi.

Authot Kinyanjui Kombani noted that authors lose much more to piracy than publishers, despite the latter losing upto Sh20billion annually to the vice

“There is less investment in fiction work as publishers divert funds towards anti-piracy initiatives,” Kombani said.

He suggests an increase of piracy fines from the current sh800,000 noting it makes no sense if for instance an author loses books worth Sh100 million while a piratey is only charged Sh800,000.

According to KPA, introduction of a 16 per cent levy in September 2013 led to reduced published volumes and sales stagnating at 35 per cent since 2013.

“The low sales are due to an increase in pirated books in the market, sold at lower VAT prices” KPA chairman David Waweru said in a statement published on the International Publishers Association website.

In February, KPA, Kenya Institute of Curriculumn Development and Ministry of Education developed an IT-based solution that instantly informes a customer if he or she has bought a genuine or pirated book.

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