Shuter and Shooter publishers, the 100% South African-owned textbook publisher, has a history dating back to 1850. The company has been providing South African learners and teachers with premium learning material and are a well-known sight in our schools.
It’s the company whose name we often get confused over how to pronounce. Today we interview Sales and Marketing Director Warren Kliphuis to find out more about this South African staple and how exactly we should be pronouncing that name …
Tell us about your company’s history?
We can trace the origins of our company back to 1850 when Daniel Sanders opened Vause, Slatter and Co. a bookshop in Pietermaritzburg.
In 1921 L.G Shuter took over the bookstore. In 1925 R.A Shooter joined the business and they renamed it Shuter & Shooter. Shortly thereafter our company began publishing in the indigenous home languages, especially in isiZulu. In the 1950’s the company encouraged black staff members to assume greater responsibilities.
In 1959 Professor Sibusiso Nyembezi resigned from the University of Fort Hare in protest of the Apartheid education system and joined Shuter & Shooter as Chief Editor for African languages. In 1975 Professor Nyembezi was appointed to the Board of Shuter & Shooter and he remained a Board member until his passing in 2000.
In 2000 the bookstore became a separate business and Shuter & Shooter began to focus on educational publishing (textbooks etc.). In 2002 Shuter & Shooter merged with Reach Out Publishers to form Shuter & Shooter Publishers. In 2018 Shuter & Shooter Publishers became 100% black-owned.
Throughout our entire existence we have been based in Pietermaritzburg. Our head office and warehouse are still based there. We also have offices in Johannesburg, East London and Cape Town and we employ staff members based all over South Africa.
Tell us about your product range?
Our most popular products are the core textbooks and readers that we develop for the National Department of Education’s CAPS curriculum. These are the books that we sell to all the country’s public schools. Our core CAPS series include:
- Shuters Top Class
- Shuters Premier Mathematics
- IsiZulu Sethu
- IsiZulu Soqobo
- IsiXhosa Ngumdiliya
- Sichumile IsiXhosa
- Sediba sa thuto
- Siswati Setfu
- Setswana Tota
- Hi Nwa Hi Kolwa
We also have a very popular phonics reading scheme called Duzi Bugs and an exciting high school study guide series called Ace it!
We also sell educational charts, puzzles, toys and games and a range of supplementary resources such as dictionaries and atlases.
Most of our core CAPS materials are also available as E-Books.
What is your price point for customers?
We’ve always believed in developing quality learning materials at a competitive price. Generally speaking we offer our learning materials at a much lower price than many of the international companies that we compete with. Our products are just as good as theirs (we think ours might even be better) but significantly cheaper.
The prices of our core CAPS materials all appear on the National Department of Education’s approved catalogue. We’re able to offer our materials at such competitive prices because we keep our overheads low and we try and be reasonable with regards to the profits we make. We’ve been in business for a long time and we believe in charging a fair price for a quality product.
Tell us about some of your top customers?
This is such a difficult question to answer because we sell to almost all of the 25,000 public schools in South Africa. Because we’ve been in Pietermaritzburg throughout our existence we have a particular affinity towards schools in our home town. As you may know Pietermaritzburg and the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is home to some of the most prestigious schools in South Africa. Having said that we sell to schools throughout our country, whether it’s in Atteridgeville or Zeerust or anywhere else.
Do you provide product training for teachers?
Yes, we do a large number of training workshops each year in collaboration with some of the teacher unions such as SADTU and NAPTOSA. In 2016 we launched our professional development training arm called the Shuters Academy. The Shuters Academy offers a range of workshops where teachers can earn professional development points. The offering is quite extensive so it’s always best to visit our website for more info.
We are registered as a training provider with both the ETDP SETA and SACE.
Is your product range relevant to the SA market?
Unlike some of our competitors we don’t take content from elsewhere and adapt it for the local curriculum. All of our materials are written from scratch for the local curriculum. We employ local editors, proof readers, project managers, typesetters and designers. Most of our authors come from a local teaching background. We also do all of our printing in South Africa.
Do you have any resources available during lockdown?
Yes, I think we were one of the first publishing companies to respond to the crisis that the Covid-19 Pandemic presented to the basic education sector. On 26 March 2020 we launched a campaign to offer a selected range of E-Books for free to learners, teachers and parents across the country. These include study guides, readers, practice books and quick reference guides. We allowed anyone who wants to access these materials a free license until 31 December 2020. All people need to do is visit our website, create a profile through a simple registration process and download our EduReader application. They will then be able to download the free E-Books we have made available. These free resources can be viewed online here.
What is at the top of your company’s wish-list?
The Covid-19 Pandemic has caused so much change and disruption that I think our priorities are very different from what they were a year ago. We just want to remain a sustainable business that continues to offer meaningful employment to hundreds of South Africans and contribute to the economy. In order to do that we need schools and education departments to keep on supporting us.
Longer term, we are very keen for the Department of Basic Education to refine the CAPS curriculum and offer publishers an opportunity to develop updated materials. We hope that this will also give an opportunity for more emphasis to be placed on supporting local publishers like ourselves
Where do you see your company in 5 years?
We hope that by then the Department of Basic Education would have called for the development of new core learning materials and that we have positioned ourselves as the market leader. We would like to see our titles in every classroom and every home throughout South Africa.
We also hope to expand our range of digital learning materials and to grow our professional development training division.
It’s quite funny that people often get confused about how to pronounce our company name. You pronounce both words in our company the same (so, it would sound as if you are saying Shooter and Shooter): ˈʃuːtə ænd ˈʃuːtə ˈpʌblɪʃəz
But on a more serious note, I would just like to appeal to teachers to support local publishers as much as they can. Unfortunately the local textbook market is still dominated by a handful of internationally owned companies which leaves limited opportunities for the locally owned companies. I would like to ask teachers to research the companies that they buy from so that they know which ones are truly local and which are not. President Ramaphosa has often cited the need for South Africans to support local companies. I wish that teachers will do the same when they prescribe textbooks to their learners.
Shuter & Shooter Publishers is proud to be 100% South African, 100% black-owned and a Level 1 BBBEE company.
Visit them online here.