November 6, 2020, 10:00 a.m.

Mr. Wilmor Pacay III, Mr. Eugene Soyosa, Ms. KC Victoria, colleagues in public service, and stakeholders in the book publishing industry, good morning. On behalf of the National Book Development Board, welcome to today’s event, “Literary and Publishing Trade Conversations.”

We are delighted with the participation of authors, writers, artists, publishers, academicians, students, and fellow readers, including those watching the livestream on NBDB’s Facebook page. Thank you for your time and support for this event and the book publishing industry.

The NBDB, in partnership with the Primetrade Asia Inc., is holding the Literary and Publishing Trade Conversations or LitPub in conjunction with the Manila International Book Fair online this year. We have done so, because activities such as this help create conditions conducive for the development and production of books and promote reader well-being, which is the mandate of Republic Act 8047. As you know, that is the Book Publishing Industry Development Act, which created NBDB.

LitPub is a series of NBDB videos and discussions that celebrates literature and promotes best practices in the publishing trade through discourse on issues, opportunities, and trends in literature, book publishing, and readership.

From the numerous panel submissions of our stakeholders to the LitPub Conversations, the NBDB selected 10 panels to be featured this year. The panels are clustered into the following:

1. Podcasts and poetry audio and video;
2. Young adult and children’s literature;
3. Special topics about language, humor, and death; and
4. A guide to self-publishing, tips on editing and proofreading, and conversation about book communities.

Firstly, we would like to put a spotlight on digital books as this format has become more accessible in recent years, especially now that we are still under community quarantine. Based on the data processed by NBDB from the raw data of the National Library of the Philippines (NLP), the share of e-books to the total number of books produced by Philippine publishers significantly increased from 3% in 2010 to 25% in 2015. NBDB also estimates that the share of e-books will be from 27% to 31% in 2019.

Based also on the last readership survey conducted by NBDB, 23.98% of e-book readers are children, and 11.83% are adults. Those figures have been growing and was negligible in 2007. The same survey also reported that in 2017, 15.08% of children have listened to audiobooks outside of their schoolwork. We expect that this percentage of audiobook listeners increased further in 2018, a trend that likely continued up to the present.

Secondly, we would also like to highlight young adult and children’s literature. Among the genres that are popular with children and adults are picture books, storybooks for children, and short stories for children, consistently ranked in the top three favorite genres.

Thirdly, we would like to highlight special topics on language, humor, and death with respect to our current health situation. With the daily rise of death cases because of Covid-19, there is a need to talk about death as depicted in literature and elsewhere. Also, we have always used humor as a vehicle in coping with stressful situations and, more importantly, in re-numerating and understanding issues in social, political, and economic spheres, especially those that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Finally, the cluster of panels revolves around the publishing trade. This includes a guide to self-publishing, tips on editing and proofreading, and conversation about book communities. We have to focus on professional development in publishing to increase the publishing industry’s capability to produce more quality books.

As you have seen from the slides, the number of ISBNs issued by the NLP from January to August 2020 fell to its lowest level to 2,066 from the previous 6,666 in 2019. It may be reasonable to expect that the P6.19 billion book publishing industry will be negatively affected this year, although we do not have yet the current data on this. Regardless, we remain committed to help improve our country’s capability in producing high-quality books, even in these difficult times. The NBDB will continue to offer capacity building activities, including literary and publishing seminars to support our stakeholders.

Today, we will hear from esteemed literary professionals share their expertise and knowledge. We are honored to have the founders and hosts of the LIT Junction podcast: Messrs. Pacay and Soyosa, and Ms. Victoria.

Let me conclude here so that the program can get underway. NBDB wishes you all a productive day.