ALL ABOUT BOOKS National Book Development Board Executive Director Charisse Aquino-Tugade being interviewed by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante Francis ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd on SMNI’s ‘Business and Politics’ aired Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. PHOTO BY JOHN GERARD SEGUIA
THE National Book Development Board (NBDB) urged the government to increase its support for the book publishing industry to improve literacy especially among youth by making more books available to them.
In an interview on SMNI’s “Business and Politics” hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd, NBDB Executive Director Charisse Aquino-Tugade said that providing subsidies and discounts to publishers enabled them to sell more books and explore e-commerce platforms.
Scores of bookstores temporarily or permanently closed shop during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the industry is on its way to making a comeback.
Aquino-Tugade said the NBDB logged the highest number of grants and incentives for creatives and publishers last year.
Book publishing also significantly increased, although she said they still “need to have the budget so that we can care for our private publishers.”
Having the government, specifically the Department of Education (DepEd), as an institutional buyer of locally published books will ensure the sustainability of the creative industry and democratize book procurement through the NBDB’s National Book Database, she said.
“We are invited to meetings and had consultations with DepEd specifically on projects like the supplementary learning resources. They have a list of books to provide to libraries and to DepEd-affiliated institutions which could be purchased and when [our research unit at NBDB] disaggregated the books, we noticed that many of the books were foreign — which was fine — but we had a discussion with DepEd, and we noted that we do have books of quality. It’s just a matter of connecting DepEd to the publishers,” she said.
Aquino-Tugade reiterated that books, as knowledge products, could deliver economic results since their content could be translated into various languages and adapted into movies, shows and theater, and produce merchandise from them.
Another major NBDB project is the setting up of Book Nooks that promote a culture of reading among the youth and their families.
Book Nooks have been established from Ifugao to Tawi-Tawi, where 1,500 books from Filipino authors and in local languages, as well as foreign books, are available.
“In many areas, specifically in Mindanao, there were reports that the literacy rate is not as high as in other areas in the Philippines. We go to these areas because some children are at risk and we want to be able to address that early on,” Aquino-Tugade said.
She said Book Nooks complement libraries and encourage children to borrow books and do community service instead of paying fees for the books.
The NBDB has partnered with various communities to organize a reading and storytelling space and to train community members for six months to sustainably manage Book Nooks that cater to the more than 5 million Filipinos.
Aquino-Tugade said the Book Nooks also give publishers a chance to give their books national exposure.
The board also aims to strengthen the book publishing industry through the Book Institute of the Philippines, an educational workshop that trains individuals on publishing techniques.
“In the Philippines, there is no such course. If we like quality, if we expect quality, we need to be able to train everyone about qualities like paper quality, book design, and copy editing,” Aquino-Tugade said.
Setting standards that people and government agencies can follow will attract private companies, and encourage people to buy quality books, she said.
With books having different formats, the NBDB is supporting amendments to the Book Publishing Industry Development Act to redefine what a book is and its digitalized iterations.
“Aside from the definition of the books, we also [support] strengthening our role in regards to procurement of books by government organizations such as DepEd and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI),” Aquino-Tugade said.
The NBDB is scheduled to participate in the Frankfurt Book Fair to showcase to foreign publishers what the Philippines can offer in culture and literature.
Creatives and publishers are also invited to register with the board for grants, incentives and training opportunities, and the public is encouraged to follow them on their social media sites for updates on their various and upcoming projects.
Ang is the NBDB chairman.