Manila, Philippines – As the publishing industry contracted during the pandemic, the National Book Development Board (NBDB), the Philippines’ book authority, pivoted towards providing grants and subsidies to support creatives and publishers.
The year 2021 saw the highest recorded number of grants and domestic incentive programs in the 27 years of the agency’s existence, amounting to PHP 33,332,708.46. This includes implementing large-scale institutional reading and bulk-buy programs such as the Book Nook, and reading centers from Ifugao to Tawi-Tawi while supporting publishers through institutional purchases, as well as translation, publication, and creative grants along with professional training.
The Philippines suffers a 24 to 1 import-export disparity along with low functional literacy in many areas. Under the leadership of Chairman Dante Francis Ang II and Executive Director Charisse Aquino-Tugade along with the Board of Governors, the NBDB shifted directions and focused on the professionalization of the industry and changing the perception of Philippine books last year.
“It’s important for the country to have a strong and robust book publishing industry. Publishing is qualified to be part of the manufacturing sector. So, in terms of value added and economic contribution, developing the book industry is crucial to our advancement as a nation. We have good stories—I think what we lack are the developmental aspects. That’s where our work comes in—we have to help our policymakers introduce things that will be beneficial to the development of the industry. We have to lay the groundwork and help these publishers take off and sell their books here and abroad,” Chairman Ang notes.
“We shifted towards design-thinking and solutions-based programming. For the domestic market, we looked towards education and creating more access points for both the professional and the consumer. As for the international market, we now look towards content and books as export products,” shares Aquino-Tugade.
The shift worked. In 2021, the recorded number of ISBN or Intentional Standard Book Number increased by 45% from the year before to a total of 9,497. The last highest recorded ISBN was 8,419 in 2016.
Publishers ABC Educational Development Center Children’s Books, Adarna House, Anvil Publishing, Inc., Ateneo de Naga University Press, Avenida Publishing House, ElziStyle, Ilaw ng Tahanan Publishing, Inc., Kawangis Publishing Co., Lampara Publishing House, Inc., Isang Balangay Media Productions, Sherma Benosa, Saniata Publications, St. Matthew’s Publishing Corporation, and Tawid Publications were recipients to the 2021 Translation Subsidy Grant Program alone.
“The NBDB also offers Publication Grant to publishers and individuals with completed manuscripts and press-ready work. We can infuse funds to support you with the production,” Aquino-Tugade continues.
The National Book Development Trust Fund (NBDTF) recently concluded its second public consultation on May 24, 2022. “We are finalizing our revamp of the Manuscript Grant, also known as the National Book Development Trust Fund. Rather than a centralized board of advisors without publisher input, we democratize literary hubs around the regions and ensure that manuscripts accepted go straight to production. Our stories need to be told. Our next call for submission starts the third quarter of 2022,” says Aquino-Tugade.
This year, NBDB continues to build more reading centers across the country as well as establish the Book Institute of the Philippines with the Book Development Association of the Philippines, which will professionalize the local publishing industry.
Philippine content has reached new heights in the past years—Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo’s ‘Trese’ is being streamed on Netflix as an animated series, while the works of Tori Tadiar, Eliza Victoria, and Mervin Malonzo were picked up by Disney Books and Tuttle Publishing for a massive, global audience.
For more information on the National Book Development Board’s grants, programs, and incentives, please visit: www.booksphilippines.gov.ph or contact email@example.com.
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