BookLife offers to match cash-strapped schools' spend on books

BookLife offers to match cash-strapped schools' spend on books

A UK-based educational supplier is hoping to alleviate the pressure on school budgets by matching any spending schools make on books.

Nick Ison, m.d. of BookLife, told The Bookseller he had taken the measure after seeing schools' budgets for books being slashed.

The company will give schools who buy £100 of books an additional £100 to spend with his company, for example, although there is no limit to how much or how little schools can spend to benefit from the match-funding and they can choose any titles from the BookLife catalogue.

“I’ve been in the education business 30-odd years and I’m seeing a massive reduction in budgets at the moment, not only in the number of books being bought but also in literacy as a whole, with libraries being split into classrooms,” he said. “There is not the expertise in schools anymore and school library services are closing all over the place. Carillion were supposed to be opening school library services in London and Liverpool this year but that’s all gone to pot. The official advice is that schools of around 400 pupils should spend £1,300-1,500 on replacement books every year but schools we have spoken to only spend around £250.”

Government services provider Carillion has gone into liquidation after losing money on big contracts and running up huge debts of around £1.5bn, according to the BBC. The collapse of the company has put thousands of jobs across multiple sectors at risk.

BookLife is taking its scheme nationwide for six months, after running a pilot last year.

Ison said publishers have been very supportive, explaining: “Because we are buying enhanced volumes, we have looked at different ways of buying from the publishers. We’ve snipped off edges here and there.” However, the project will lead to a reduction of company profits of around 20%, he estimated.

Based in King's Lynn, BookLife sells fiction and non-fiction aimed at primary school children, as well as educational tools and learning resources. Any schools interested in taking up BookLife’s offer can find more information on the company’s website.