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Used Book Sales Boom in S. Africa as Economic Recession Bites


Photo Courtesy: Flickr

South Africa entered an economic recession in June, and the country’s unemployment rate is fast approaching 30 percent, according to the government statistics agency. But for the sellers of secondhand books, business has never been better.

Eric Nofal, who has been selling used books for almost 30 years, shows a customer around his store in Johannesburg.

He says he recently faced “intense” competition before launching his fifth bookshop in the city.

“My ex-wife also wanted to open up a shop in this area, but I beat her to the punch, so she is a bit [angry] with me, actually!,” he admitted.

Nofal adds  “I am making money and it is going into my third month and that is pretty good for a new business to make money so quickly. Books have come back.”

It is a big contrast to five years ago when Nofal’s sales dropped dramatically. Book lovers were embracing electronic reading devices like Kindles. He had to close six stores.

But now, Nofal says, the “kindle craze” may be over and many South Africans want to turn “real pages.”

Yet many of his clients give another reason for no longer buying new books.

“They have gone up a hell of a lot. Obviously it depends on your import or your [South African] rand level,” he said.

The rand has dropped steadily against the dollar since the end of 2011, when one dollar was valued at about eight rand. Presently, a dollar is valued at 13 rand.

“A new book should cost you about the price of a meal. In the UK [Britain] that is about right, a meal costs about seven pounds and a [new] book costs about seven pounds. Here on the other hand a reasonable meal for one person will cost you about 70 rand, 80 rand and a [new] book costs 350 [rand]. People just can not afford [new] books,” he said.

Dealers across Johannesburg put the number of second hand book stores at about 50, up from about 25 just a few years ago.

But used books are not always cheaper.

Unpacking hand-me-down books inside his shop, Doron Locketz says that despite the poor economy, some South Africans spend “big money” on rare second hand titles.

Second hand book dealer Doron Locketz sometimes makes “big money” selling rare used books.
“We sold a first edition of Long Walk to Freedom, and the big thing about it was that it was signed, pre the release date, by Mandela. It went to one of our collectors,” he said.

Locketz sold the autographed copy of Nelson Mandela’s bestseller for almost 80,000 rand … more than $6,000 US.

But he says the collectible book market is very small, and he mostly sells used books to a general audience.

“I am delighted to increasingly see more black customers, younger ones, who really have, many of them, a passion for books,” he said.

Economists are predicting a bleak outlook for South Africa for the next few years. So second hand book dealers like Locketz expect sales to rise even further in the near future.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS


Media Watch : South African News


Natal Witness, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

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Media Watch: World News

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Even more than 21 years after the end of apartheid,more than 90% of the land is still owned by the white minority in South Africa. According to the reform plans adopted by the government 33% of all arable land to be redistributed to majority black people by 2014.But Blacks grow impatient about the slow process of the land reform.Voice of America(VOA)’s VOA’s Paul Ndiho has this report. Courtesy:VOA

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Maths Olympiad Launched

Pretoria (South Africa): – Cape Town will be abuzz next month as the country welcomes students from over 100 countries, who will participate in the 55th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).

matBasic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Tuesday launched the Olympiad – the first to be held in Africa. The IMO is a problem solving contest for high school students held in different countries each year in July. This year, 582 students from 109 countries in five continents will participate in the IMO.

Each participating country enters a team of up to six high school students, who will sit for 4.5 hours solving three challenging problems per day, for two consecutive days. Each problem has a maximum of seven points and covers areas of maths that are not covered in schools.

The participants will be accompanied by a team leader, who is the country’s representative on the jury and a deputy leader, who is responsible for the well-being of the team. Teams may also be accompanied by observers.

Their solutions are assessed by the team leaders and their marks are approved in consultation with a team of coordinators, appointed by the host country.

The top half of the contestants are awarded with gold, silver and bronze medals. All contestants, who do not win a medal, but have solved at least one problem correctly, earn an honourable mention.

Speaking at the IMO launch, Minister Motshekga said it was an honour to host the prestigious contest.

She acknowledged her colleagues from the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF), whose passion and dedication to the subject of mathematics has grown local talent in the Olympiad by record numbers across South African schools.

“We do believe that it is important for learners to enjoy mathematics and this Olympiad gives participants a unique opportunity to broaden their mathematics horizon and compete against the very best in the world. These competitions are usually the privilege of developed countries and awaken mathematical talent in many learners,” said Minister Motshekga.

Sparking a love for maths

The IMO is perceived by some as the World Cup of Mathematics. South Africa hopes that hosting this event will create enthusiasm around mathematics and inspire the country’s future engineers, accountants, doctors, teachers and inventors.

“The department has prioritised mathematics, as we recognize the importance of excellence in this particular subject. It has a major impact on the developmental objectives of the country and the economy.

“We are working to improve not only the enrolment of learners in mathematics in South Africa, but also learner outcomes in this crucial subject. Events like this help to create enthusiasm around mathematics,” said Minister Motshekga.

Executive Director at SAMF, Professor Johann Engelbrecht, said that hosting this year’s IMO is an opportunity to show the world that the country is able to host world class events and it has top class mathematicians.

Director of the IMO2014 and a lecturer at the University of Cape Town – which will host the IMO– said: “Holding a high profile event such as the IMO in South Africa will bring mathematics into the public eye and highlight the importance of mathematics education in South Africa’s economic and technological development.”

The main sponsors for the IMO2014 are the Basic Education Department, Google, SABC Education, South African National Roads Agency Ltd and Sasol.

The Pre-Olympiad camp will start on 30 June. Team leaders will arrive on 2 and 3 July to set the papers and teams are expected to start arriving around 6 July.

A big opening ceremony will be held on 7 July, and participants will start writing papers on 8 and 9 July. After that, the marking of papers will start.

The closing ceremony will be on 12 July and participants will leave on 13 July 2013.



Chander Pahar, a new big budget Bengali adventure film

Shot in South Africa,a new Bengali adventure film Chander Pahar is the journey of a Bengali boy named Shankar.Based on the novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay a noted Bengali writer.

chand1Directed by talented film maker Kamaleswar Mukherjee, Starring Bengali film super star  Dev, Martin Cito Otto, Nabeel Khan and others with African lions, elephants…


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