While the publishing of textbooks is monopolised by the Education Publishing House, the reference books market is a lucrative market for many publishing companies.
Most of the reference books plagiarise each other, and only vary based on appearance. Many book stores in Hanoi provide discounts from 10-30%, some even lower the prices by 50% to attract customers.
A parent shared, “When I was looking for a reference book for my third grade nephew and niece, I found dozens of books from different publishing houses. However most of them have the same content and some even had wrong information. The book stores make money either way.”
At the book stores at 45B Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hue is having difficulties in choosing books for her fifth grade child.
“It’s lucky that I’ve done some research before. Though most people don’t seem to like the books written by southern authors, I think their books are easy to understand. Of course, I only select books from credible publishing houses and university lecturers.”
According to a bookseller, the books receive a rudimentary inspection before going on sale.
Most of the book stores in Hanoi still prioritise northern authors, however, the southern publishing houses have opened their agencies in the north recently and provide a great deal of books to the market.
Pham Thi Yen, Headmaster of Thanh Cong B Primary School said, “It’s kind of hard now to choose from so many books. There are so many reference books that contain the wrong information. This is not something new because these books in reality are mostly written by only one or two authors.”
Yen further advise parents to choose books for children carefully.
Ngo Tran Ai, Head of Education Publishing Houses said, “There are a lot of books that have the wrong information in them because the education book market is not control by any state agency. But more importantly, some publishing houses don’t control the books as they co-operate with their partners or don’t necessarily fully inspect the books.”
He also said parents should buy reference books by authors who also write text books, famous and credible authors and seek advice from schools and teachers.
“Most schools will give advice to parents when it comes to choosing books. Parents should consult with teachers before buying reference books.” Yen said. “The books with the least mistakes are written by lecturers of National University of Education.”