ON THE 52nd FRANKFURT BOOKFAIR
(October 18-23, 2000)
My attendance at the Frankfurt Book Fair was not primarily to oversee the Philippine booth but to attend the yearly meetings of the International Publishers Association (IPA) in my capacity as Chairman of the National Book Development Board (NBDB) and President of Philippine Educational Publishers Association (PEPA).
Though the Philippine booth expanded doubly its size to accommodate varied titles, the presence of an eligible person to attend the booth was wanting due to the last minute denial of NBDB’s financial assistance for a private sector representative to man the booth on account of strict accounting procedure.
Mrs. Sonia Santiago who was financed by Rex Book Store to attend to other concerns could not be present all the time. The Book Exporter Association of the Philippines (BEAP) President Mr. Ramon Rocha could not be there also because of other commitments.
Luckily we were able to request Mrs. Mariflo Kantuser (sister of Mrs. Carol Javier) to oversee the booth, despite the absence of adequate remuneration. It could have been more fruitful and effective if the publishers themselves or at the least somebody knowledgeable had given attention to the booth.
In my intermittent visits at the booth, I noticed that there is a market for books written purely in Filipino or in another language with Filipino translation— above the category of Filipino romance novelettes. An order from a bookselling outfit from Denmark had been made for several titles on display and I am optimistic that there would be a recurrence of these orders at a greater scale, if we shall be able to satisfy promptly and adequately their requirements.
There is likewise a market for textbooks. The two (2) textbooks on display from Rex Book Store were chosen by a Belgian book distributor for evaluation with a view of being adopted by the BOTSWANA schools. We were advised to send twelve (12) copies each of the chosen textbooks not later than December 12, 2000.
There may be truth to the observation that we can not immediately ascertain the demand of a market place and that we should as much as possible democratize or liberalize the sending of display materials in all categories to untested bookfairs like Frankfurt Bookfair before giving rigid guidelines on the matter.
With respect to sizes of booths of the other participants within the Asia Pacific area, Malaysia has thirteen (13) booths, Thailand has ten (10) booths, Singapore has ten (10) booths, India has (20) booths, South Korea has twelve (12) booths, Japan has twenty (20) booths, China has thirty (30) booths.
All of them were beautifully designed to reflect their respective cultures. The Philippines was without ornamentation though it may had been compensated by the colorful designs of the Philippine publications. Moreover, the above-cited countries took turns in providing hospitable acts such as free merienda, lunch or dinner to promote goodwill.
The Philippine booth had adopted the Spartan and stiff approach. Poland incidentally was given exclusive honor during the book fair. It is hope that in the immediate future our country should likewise be given the same prominence.
In the course of my interaction with Malaysia, the chief representative made mention that a convention on book publishing in Kuala Lumpur maybe held during the middle of November and that they were considering inviting the Philippines. The chief representative told me that while the government through its National Book Council is spending for the booths, individual publishers defray the costs of attending the book fair. After verification, it was unearthed that a similar situation exists in the above-cited countries.
In connection with my attendance at the IPA meetings, some of the topics that have been discussed are as follows:
The balancing of rights between copyright protection and fair are difficult to achieve under the digital environment wherein exact or even better copies of the original can be reproduced;
Majority of the member-countries which include Japan, South Korea, Germany, Argentina, Austria, etc. still prefer the fixed price maintenance scheme as it is more beneficial to the book publishers, book sellers and other book related activities in view of its orderliness;
Reading habit and training had been emphasized;
Committees related to book publishing for the following regions had been activated;
South East Asia Pacific Area;
South Asian Countries;
D.1. Though the Philippines and its neighboring countries fall under the broader classifications mentioned above, a question is posed on whether there should be a particular representation from the Asean countries which hopefully the Philippines should spearhead.
In the light of the fact that almost 45% of the world book publishers are engaged in educational publishing, a collaborative discussion on the subject matter with the view of helping the developing countries, shall be held in Madrid this June 2001. (through my intervention).
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) through the International Publishers Association (IPA) is requesting for a well-known writer from each country (like Nick Joaquin of the Philippines) to espouse on the importance of copyright protection to enhance creativity.
F.1 Enclosed is the mechanics of the project which includes also on the last page the listings of writers that had already been suggested.
For your information.
DOMINADOR D. BUHAIN
Chairman, Committee on