The Role of NBDB in the Book Publishing Industry


By: Atty. Dominador D. Buhain
Chairman, NBDB


(Speech Delivered During the 1st Mindanao Printers Congress on February 23-24, 2001 at the VIP Hotel, Cagayan De Oro City)


Officers of the Mindanao Printers/Book Publishers Federation ;
My fellow book publishers, printers and sellers, my friends, Ladies and Gentlemen


May I express at the outset my appreciation and gratitude to the officers and members of Mindanao Printers and Book Publishers Federation for inviting me to your First Congress with its very timely and most appropriate theme:




I must admit that I am prompted by mixed emotions.
It is with joy to vote the enthusiastic and enterprising leadership of the publishers and printers of Mindanao in the economic recovery of the land of promise. Your thrusts and efforts complement those of the present administration. With the new Vice President coming from Mindanao, with some important positions in the cabinet entrusted to prominent sons of Mindanao, with the initiative of the Arroyo presidency to build lasting peace in this big island, and with renewal vigor of NGOs like your Federation, we can now engender fresh hopes that Mindanao with a population of 717 million and an area of 106 thousand square kilometers, and teeming with natural resources shall eventually become a land of fulfillment.


Be that as it may, I feel somewhat uneasy to address this body. I have been forewarned that there is a mounting expectation for a speedier development of book publishing and of book related economic activities in Mindanao. It is an expectation the realization of which rests heavily on the shoulders of the officers of the National Book Development Board, The Department of Education and the private stakeholders in this region.


The role of NBDB to my mind, is to lay down a desirable climate and infrastructure geared towards development.


Our latest data would show that 95% of book publishing industry activities occur in the National Capital Region. The balance of 5% is shared by the other 15 administrative regions. It is easy to conclude therefore that there is a very little economic activity related to book publishing that is taking place in the regions outside Metro Manila.


Growth can only be achieved if our people are informed, if we develop good authors, if we train and sharpen the skills of book personnel in the regions in order to create production capability, if we generate interest in reading, if we make the product affordable and accessible to the readers through a proliferation of bookstores in the urban centers, if we expand the market- or better yet- if we bring this market to the regions and if we remove barriers to the growth and development. These are the minimum essentials to development of the book industry in the regions.


The Book Board, therefore, has created awareness in the mind of concerned stakeholders to participate and get actively involved in any of the economic phases of the book publishing. We have been to regions to inform the writers, publishers and businessmen of the stakes involved in the book industry. We do hope that if the 15 other regions can be converted into centers of book production, then the mandate of the National Book Development Board which is to enhance the continuing development of book publishing in the country would have been partially accomplished.


The production of a book starts with writing of the manuscripts. A book is saleable when it is readable and it is readable because there is quality in it. It is vital therefore that our good writers be trained to become good authors. We have introduced and conducting training for writers and authors in the different regions at no cost to the participants. Our efforts are hamstrung by our very limited fund.


Though we have our Php 5 million budget for training released very soon to enable us to conduct more intensive seminars and workshops.
We are aware that as affordable price of a book contribute to its saleability. Cheaper cost of book production is greatly a result of competent effective book personnel. In view of the fact that there are very few knowledgeable workers of the publishing industry in the regions, on account of centralized activity in Metro Manila, we shall soon embark on a continuing skills development of potential manpower for the book industry- a skills development programs that shall include computer typesetting and machine editing, book design, illustration, camera work, printing machine operation, and others. We are sure that this industry cannot thrive in the region unless there are adequate and competent workers. This is one organizational infrastructure that we shall establish in every region given enough budgetary support by Congress.


The book publishing industry is like the other business. Its major stakeholders, like the authors, publishers, printers and sellers would dare venture into it only if there is a return on their investments. From a practical and pragmatical viewpoint therefore, your entry into this industry can be dictated by certain factors, the most important of which is a market presence or that the regions has buyers.


We have established linkages and working relationships with a number of Gos and NGO’s which are deeply involved in generating reading interest. These organization, like Reading Association of the Philippines, the Magbasa Kita Foundation, the Literacy and Book Readership Organization (or LIBRO for short), the National Library, the DECS Non-formal Education Center, the Rotary Clubs and other well meaning organizations are spearheading a national readership movement at the use of their very limited fiscal resources. A wide readership base translates into an expanded market for books and other reading materials.


The book industry is also studying for eventual establishment of provincial bookstore to make the book accessible to the readers in the regions. At present, bookstores exists in the highly urbanized and better developed population centers. We are currently developing in coordination with the Book Development Association of the Philippines on the establishment of bookstores in the provinces to determine the stakes involved. We have commenced a 3-day seminar on book marketing and bookstore operations and including advertising and promotion as a prelude to the operationalization of this concept. Seminars of this nature shall soon be conducted in Visayas and Mindanao


The Florence Agreement to which the Philippine is a signatory provided for free flow of information. As a consequence, books freely enter the foreign market sans the payment of duties and taxes. As a way of expanding the market for books published in Mindanao, there should be sincere effort to write books that shall cross borders and not solely confined to local reading interest. We have sponsored book fairs locally for these are effective means of showcasing our products. Likewise, we have supported the participation of the Philippines in international book fairs in order to provide exposure to our local products. These are meant to create the mandate for our books so that our authors can look forward to a just return on their writing endeavors.


The fastest and surest approach to creating the market opportunities in the regions is, of course the decentralization of production activities necessitated by the decentralization of procurement activities. The market in the region has to be provided; otherwise, who will write books and who will publish books if there is no intended market. To our mind, a ready market in the region can be created if we, meaning government, will adopt procurement policies for its textbooks require rents that will be beneficial to the regions or at least level the playing field so that the regional publishers can be competitively enter the scene.


A concrete example of a beneficial move is by allowing the regional authors to write their own textbooks and for publishers and printers in the regions to produce their textbooks. We are not saying that ____ is to be limited to textbook alone. But we are espousing is providing the initial market for the regions. Textbooks are compulsory reading materials. Hence, our public educational system can be tapped to provide the economic opportunity by changing its procurement policies.


The public and private schools account for about 85% of our market for books. The non-textbooks, like fiction, romance and other leisure reading materials approximate 15% of total domestic market. The regions in Mindanao have combined enrollment of 4million student in basic public education are enrolled and 420,000 students of basic education are enrolled in the private schools. These students, if fully equipped with their textbook needs, can generate an annual book market of 1.5 billion.


It is our commitment at NBDB to formulate policies that would eliminate barriers to the development of the industry. But, in the realm of things, NBDB only do so much. The instant market creation is not within our group. It lies solely in DECS territory. We have developed a National Book Policy that shall provide equal opportunities to all. But, until such time the opportunity is actually decentralized and devolved to the regions, our policy remains as a dream.


We know that the private stakeholders in the Mindanao regions can perform a very effective and forceful manner of democratizing economic opportunities without antagonizing government agencies or functionaries. The people of Mindanao demand for peace. Our brothers and sisters in Mindanao deserve prosperity. You are taking the challenge and making the change towards economic recovery. You deserve no less than be given every right and every freedom to share in the charting of the future of Mindanaoans and in shaping of the minds of the students and pupils of this vast island.


My friends, join us in our advocacy for changes. Let us inform our policy makers in Congress and the high echelons of government. It us time to unchain ourselves from old habits and ineffective policies that we may provide the better future that we all justify and richly deserve.


Thank you and good day.

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