By Francis Tsawayo WINDHOEK The Van Schaik Bookstores, a South African premier supplier of academic textbooks to institutions of higher learning, yesterday commissioned a bookshop worth over N$1 million at the University of Namibia (Unam). Van Schaik Bookstores is a division of the JSE- and NASDAQ-listed NASPERS Group that is expanding its geographic footprint to the rest of Africa, making the newly opened bookshop the 42nd for the group. The bookshop, situated on the same premises as the previous Unam bookstore, has received significant investment to bring the old bookshop up to international standards, said Dirk Uys, the group’s CEO. “This includes streamlining the ordering and inventory management systems to be more efficient and accurate, as well as modern user-friendly shop-fitting,” he said. Speaking at the event, Donovan Weirmers, the CEO of the Unam Foundation, and also one of the facilitators in setting up the bookstore, said the shop would store books at subsidised prices – “price equalisation”, coined Uys who confirmed that the books would be available at the Unam campus for the same price offered at (the point of entry) institutions in Cape Town. Weirmers urged students to take the opportunity to build their personal book collections, which they can always refer to long after they have left the institution. The bookshop is a result of a partnership comprising of the Disability Investment Trust (DIT), Stimulus Investment Limited, the University of Namibia and Van Schaik Bookstores. At the launch ceremony, Uys noted the expansion into Namibia is a huge step for the business and that the move is the beginning of a new era that the company is proud to be part of. “Our vision is to be the preferred supplier of tertiary academic and school textbooks in Africa and we are very proud to be welcomed into Namibia’s education system,” said Uys, who further noted there is a huge potential here and that his company is overwhelmed to be involved in development at grassroots level. Though optimistic about the success of the bookstore, Uys pointed out challenges such as building a relationship with the lecturing staff to influence the booklist on offer, overcoming the culture of not buying books by students and servicing remote centres of Unam such as the Northern Campus. Uys also noted that the bookstore would service other institutions such as the Polytechnic of Namibia, UNISA, Damelin College, among others, and that stocks aside from the prescribed requests would be on offer, for students to be informed of what books other institutions are using. The Van Schaik bookstores are usually situated on tertiary institution campuses or in close proximity to areas with high student populations, an approach that has made the book suppliers recognised in South Africa for over 90 years.
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