By Lazarus Maitha
Back to school 2020 has picked up earlier than usual as parents throng used textbooks stalls to get books for their children promoted to higher grades.
Most of the parents interviewed by K24 Digital say that they prefer used books stalls because vendors allow them to exchange old textbooks for new ones.
According to Said Ahmed, a parent who was buying used books at G.P.O Street, it is better to exchange old books and get what he needs rather than buying new ones.
“The rates at the bookshops are really high and I can’t really keep the books for long since kids move to the next class every year. Now my son is moving from Class Five to Class Six. I have a younger child who is going to Class Four so there is no point of keeping the books. Right now, I have spent over Sh3,000 on 10 books which would have probably cost me about Sh13,000,” he says.
According to another parent, textbook prices keep on spiking.
“I called a friend of mine who works at a bookshop to check first the rates before I came here. At the bookshop, it would have cost me about Sh10, 000 to buy all the required books. This with the fact that I have not bought the exercise books, she needs new uniforms, she lost a sweater, she needs shoes. Things are really hard and the economy as well. Here with the used store, it cost me about Sh2,000 to exchange the books she already had for the ones she needs,” said Oscar Mumia, a father of Class Seven pupil at St Ann Mumias School.
Parents with many school-going children say that the going is tough for them.
“I have a child going to Class Seven, another going to Grade 4. I have another going to Form Three and another to Form Four and the eldest is in Embu Campus. If I had to purchase all these books in a bookstore, I wouldn’t even know where to start,” says Petronila Mwaigho.
While the used books exchange is heaven-sent for parents, the vendors are complaining that the business is on decline.
“Business is not so good for us because people are not actually buying the books but exchanging them with what they have. This means that whatever they are topping up for [is little]. But we have to be considerate because they are our customers,” said Winnie Muthoni, a used books seller at GPO.