14 October 2020, 2:00 PM via Zoom

Mr. Thomas Nung Atasana, Ms.Beste Bal, Ms. Jayapriya Vasudevan, NBDB Governor, Ms. Mary Ann Ordinario, other colleagues in public service, stakeholders in the book publishing industry, friends, ladies and gentlemen … good afternoon.

On behalf of the National Book Development Board, welcome to this virtual seminar on Literary Rights Management and the Importance of Literary Agents. The NBDB in partnership with the Primetrade Asia Inc., is holding this event in conjunction with the virtual Frankfurter Buchmesse this year.

Before anything else, I would like to extend sympathies and well wishes to all those who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Just as the Philippines is experiencing a flattening of the curve, we hear news of a second wave threatening countries in the northern hemisphere, including Germany. But, with more challenges possibly lying ahead, I wish you all good health and a resilient spirit.

As few others have said, there may be a silver lining to the health crisis that compelled people to refrain from venturing outdoors. By spending more time indoors, perhaps people will rediscover some simple joys in life, such as reading. Or maybe people can carve out more time for it, and even make it part of the family’s daily routine in the new normal.

If this holds true, this wish be a watershed moment for many of you attending this event – writers, publishers and other industry stakeholders. NBDB’s data suggest such opportunities would be welcome in the Philippines. The NBDB reported, citing the Annual Survey of Philippine Business and Industry (ASPBI) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), that the economic contribution of the book publishing industry was P6.19 billion in 2016. This is a mere 0.043% of the Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Before the health crisis, the industry employed only around 3,600 workers nationwide, a small number given the country’s large employment pool, and most likely, it has not escaped the impact of Covid-19. An economic rebound from the pandemic will of course require all pistons firing, so to speak. But even without the pandemic, a greater contribution from this industry generates so many benefits to our society, particularly in the human capital development.

We at the NBDB hope to realize that aspiration, because this is precisely our reason for being. The National Book Development Board, created in 1995 after the enactment of Republic Act 8047, also known as the Book Publishing Industry Development Act. This law is a clear demonstration of the government’s attention to the important role of books in nation building. In fact, the NBDB’s vision is to be the leading catalyst for building a culture of reading and authorship, as well as to create an environment for the growth of the book publishing industry, to make it globally competitive.

At least for now, the Philippines is not yet competitive. It lags in terms of titles published, compared even to its neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This metric alone underscores the need for capacity-building activities, such as this seminar today. Rest assured that NBDB shall continue these kind of programs, no matter how long this health threat lingers.

In persisting to carry and do its work, even in the virtual form, the NBDB also hopes to generate more awareness, not just of the agency itself, but also of the various programs to develop and strengthen the Book Publishing Industry. In case you do not know yet, NBDB offers grants to writers, tax incentives to publishers, and other services to our industry stakeholders.

This seminar is one of the means the industry can realize greater distribution and accessibility to books. We want to equip our stakeholders with knowledge on literary rights management and therefore, help promote and sell their books in the international market. We want to promote greater trade and exchange of books and of culture in different countries.

The seminar will feature rights management concepts, best practices and red flags in rights selling and buying, best practices in querying, and the importance of literary agents.

Esteemed literary agents from different countries will impart their expertise and knowledge. We are honored to have and would like to recognize our three international speakers for this afternoon: Jayapriya Vasudevan of the Jacaranda Literary Agency in India, Beste Bal of Kovan Agency from Turkey, and Thomas Nung Atasana of Borobudur Agency, in Indonesia.

This online panel discussion will be moderated by Governor Mary Ann Ordinario, an award-winning children’s book author and the directress of the ABC Educational Development Center in Kidapawan City.

Last but not the least, thank you NBDB’s Policies and Program Division and others in the Secretariat for their excellent work in organizing this event.

To the participants, I hope, you will find today’s discussion helpful and meaningful to your careers. Your success will add pride and prestige to our nation.