Publishing Trend Inclusive of Suggestions on How to Market Korean Books in the Philippines

Publishing Trend Inclusive of Suggestions

on How to Market Korean Books

in the Philippines



Presented by:


President, Philippine Educational Publishers

Association (PEPA)

(On the occasion of the 2005 Seoul  International Bookfair,

 Seoul,  Korea, June 4, 2005)





The statistics on the International Standard Book Number  (ISBN) can be a way of monitoring how many books were published  as every book that comes out in the world is being assigned an ISBN.


Below is the growth of the titles in the Philippines from the time RA 8047 or the Book Publishing Industry Development Act was passed into law in June 1995 as gathered from the National Library.

 Year  Issued ISBN
 1996  3,770
 1997  5,093
 1998  4,326
 1999  4,803
 2000  5,083
 2001  5,663
 2002  5,193
 2003  5,570
 2004  5,139


Hereunder are other pertinent  information related to the publishing industry in the country as gathered from the National Book Development Board (NBDB):


As of

As of

 Book Publishers  86  104  18
 Book Printer  36  42  6
 Book Importer  20  16  (4)
 Retail Bookseller/ Supplier  39  36  (3)
 Wholesale Bookseller/ Supplier  48  51  3
 Importer of Non-Print  1  4  3
 Information Materials


A. General Profile


Book publishers in the Philippines today number the above-cited figures of varying capabilities, with textbook publishing as the mainstay of the industry. About  seventy percent (70 %) of this output are school textbooks and general references; about twenty three percent (23 %) are monographs, tracts and miscellaneous publications such as indices, atlases, almanacs; about four percent (4%) are literary works; and the rest, about three percent (3%) are scholarly books published by the universities and research institutions.


Book sales of both local and foreign titles account for only  fifteen (15)  to  twenty (20) percent of total store sales of National Book Store, the country’s largest book retailer which has about eighty (80) stores. REX Book Store, Inc., another bookstore chain has about twenty (20) branches nationwide.


B. Public School Textbooks


With the advent of the government textbook project, funded from a World Bank education development loan, private publishers have developed all basic textbooks for the public elementary and secondary schools and have printed and distributed close to 45 million copies of pupils’ texts and teachers’ manuals during the last six years.


C. Private School Textbooks


Printruns for the private schools range from 50,000 to 80,000 per title.


D. Lifespan of a Textbook


In both public and private schools, the lifespan of a textbook program is five years–the same edition may be used for five successive years.


E. College Textbooks


Publication of college textbooks, which has been adversely affected by rampant photocopying among students because of prohibitive prices of foreign (imported) titles, may be revived with the enforcement of the new copyright law. Leading publishers are now commissioning experts in various fields of study to develop locally written college textbooks.


F. Romance Paperbacks and Pocketbooks


Next to textbooks, romance paperbacks or pocketbooks are bestsellers in the country. About 20,000 copies per title are sold every month. Each month an average of 20 titles are released. Romance novelettes have won over a large portion of the comics readership.


G. Coffeetable Books


They have made their appearance in recent years, mainly catering to rich collectors and tourists. They deal mainly with specific facets of cultural interests such as old streets, indigenous architecture, art, historical vignettes.

H. Philippine Literature


Philippine literature has been one of the main staples of the local publishing industry.  Local novels and poetry, written in English, have received critical acclaim abroad.

I. Children’s Books


There is now a growing market for children’s books in our country where about 22 million are children aged 12 years down.





From 1981 to 1991, only six percent of the total output of leading Philippine publishers was written in Filipino. And this partiality to publishing works written in English is still the trend.



The country’s printing and publishing industry faces a multitude of opportunities and threats brought about by social, technological, economic, and politico-legal developments both here and abroad.



The increasing number of students from the primary to tertiary levels assures constant demand for textbooks, which constitutes the biggest share of the book market in the Philippines. This is an opportunity for private publishers now that the Department of Education has opened up its textbook program to them.



Freedom of the press could be an opportunity for the Philippines to attract international publishers to establish their presence in the country. This is illustrated by the case of Hong Kong, which enjoys a high degree of press freedom, therefore attracting publishers (especially those involved in publishing newspapers and news magazines) to set up their regional centers there.



Printed matters like religious books, pocketbooks, magazines, etc. produced in the Philippines have markets in countries with a large number of overseas Filipinos such as in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, etc. There is also a potential market in North America which has a large Filipino-American population eager to reestablish their links with the Philippines.



While the National Book Development Board (NBDB), the governing body created under Republic Act 8047 to implement the rules and regulations for the privatization of book publishing for public schools, may have been successful in transferring the development, publishing and distribution of textbooks from the Department of Education (DepEd) to the private publishers, it however encountered difficulties in market development.



The publishers, especially the smaller ones, have hardly recovered their investments in the development of textbooks they submitted to the DepEd for evaluation and approval. DepEd claims that the privatization brought about the adoption of multiple titles (various titles for a given subject for each level, both in elementary and secondary).



This is because all publishers are given the chance to develop and publish all titles that are at stake and are evaluated and approved by the DepEd if they pass the agency’s criteria. Hence, a classroom ends up with a supply of many titles for a given subject, but not necessarily attaining the 1:1 ratio of one book per student.



Faced with the dilemma of failing to solve the problem of lack of textbooks, DepEd decided to purchase the textbooks which schools still lacked thru a bidding process in the Central Office.  The subjects are determined by the different regional field offices, based on inventories submitted by their respective Supply Offices.



Presently, DepEd has come up with a new textbook policy, in consultation with NBDB:


  1. To provide a 1:1 ratio of textbook per pupil or student, by adopting a single title for a series of grades 1 to 6 or 1st year to 4th This is to avoid multiplicity of titles per subject per level, resulting to maximized expenditure for the government and savings from the yearly-allocated budget for textbook procurement.


  1. Quality of Textbook Ensured. DepEd shall purchase/provide only those textbooks that have passed the content evaluation and quality production standards of the agency. Thru this system, DepEd believes that the “cut and paste up” style done by other publishers will be discouraged. Only those research-based and seriously and professionally-done materials that are aligned to the set Philippine Elementary Learning Competencies (PELC) and Philippine Secondary Schools Learning Competencies (PSSLC) may pass the text. Furthermore, to ensure its effectivity and adaptivity, the textbooks to be purchased and expected to win the bid should have been tested and actually used and adapted in a classroom as an instructional material either by the private or public school.


  1. Conduct of Open Competitive Bidding. Textbooks by subject shall be purchased for the entire pupil/student population every five years. In subsequent years, DepEd shall only bid out reprinting of the same titles. Publishers of the winning titles shall retain copyright of the said title/s. DepEd, however, shall be given rights of the said title/s in the succeeding bidding, a royalty paid in exchange for the reprint right. To generate the necessary economies of scale of further bringing down prices, the bidding shall be conducted by zone.



Only 15% of the total elementary student population and 45% of the total high school population comprise the private school market. These are the areas where private publishers compete with one another.



It was acknowledged during the congressional debate that books used in the private schools are better off than those in the public schools based on the free market situation devoid of any governmental intervention similar to what is happening in the more progressive countries.



Notwithstanding the comparatively better scenario in the private schools, NBDB issued a directive entitled New Rule on the Cancellation of Registration of Publishers that Produce Poor Quality Textbooks (New Rule) which would virtually allow the NBDB to intervene in the private school market.





  1. Make representations with the Department of Education to offer Korean subjects to international schools in the Philippines whose families are assigned or will be assigned in Korea.
  1. Open dealership or establish distributorship arrangements with booksellers in the Philippines for Korean books.
  1. Commission Filipino writers to write for Korean book market and eventually publish and print them in the Philippines.
  1. Conduct contests relative to book reading or illustration/writing in coordination with Korean/Filipino community associations.
  1. Put up more advertisements and using tri-media on the availability of Korean books in the Philippines.
  1. Conduct Korean language classes free of charge to communities/schools using Korean books and other Korean instructional materials.
  1. Conduct seminar workshops on Korean language as a tool to enhance good relationship while staying in Korea.


  1. Book launch, book bazaars, etc.


  1. Join reading clubs, international bookfairs and conferences.


  1. Make representation with the Department of Education to offer foreign language subject in the regular course in colleges and universities as optional or compulsory subject for foreign students. (One is Korean language as elective).


  1. Establish mobile/floating reading centers where Korean books are carried.


  1. Sell licenses and buy copyrights.


  1. Donate Korean books to schools as a way for students to be exposed to Korean books and other reading materials in Korean.




With the new information and communication technology, the publishing industry are facing new challenges namely convergence, specialization and globalization. Publishers must respond to these challenges in order to seize the opportunities and to make the transition to the new economy. The demand for books, both printed and electronic, still looks promising  ahead and this is a strong reason for our existence and success.


By linking regional publishers together, developing skills and resources, and forging contacts with international organizations, we will be able to build a vigorous publishing industry in our region. We must be proactive and sensitive to changes and need to find a new lease of life and play our role in building the society and in bringing our countries closer together.



  1. Bookwatch (a publication of the National Book Development Board),  December 2004 issue
  1. Annual Report 2004 by the National Book Development Board        
  1. Annual Report 2004, Department of Education
  1. National Library

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