DO FILIPINOS still read?

They still do, concluded book enthusiast and blogger Honey de Peralta in her informal study presented in Limbag Kapihan, a series of conferences discussing issues about the Philippine book publishing history, organized by the National Book Development Board (NBDB) last March 3 in the board’s office at Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

As per de Peralta’s survey, in 2013 Filipino readers read an average of 21.96 books per reader, 19.51 of which were for leisure reading. In the same year, Filipino readers bought an average of 15.7 books and spent an average of P276.23 on each book purchased.

Meanwhile, 88 percent of Filipino readers said they read books written by Filipino authors, reading an average of 6.2 books by local writers in 2013.

“If Filipinos who have online access read 19.51 leisure reading books per year and buy 15.7 books per year, then this means that they read a lot,” said de Peralta. “Therefore, if your book isn’t being bought, then it doesn’t mean that there are no Filipino readers; just that they’re not reading or buying you.”

Among her recommendations to the publishers were to find out the language readers prefer to read and where they get their books, as well as to construct a study on library perceptions and a more comprehensive e-reading survey.

De Peralta’s methodology made use of online survey, wherein there were 408 respondents, 65 percent of which were female. A total of 73 percent belonged to the 18-to-34-years age bracket, and 48 percent were employed full-time.

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Meanwhile, experts also highlighted the need for writers to consider not only their ideas but also those of the publishers and their own readers.

Award-winning writer Isagani Cruz shared his experiences as a writer, citing the need for numerous and constant revisions.

“Revise not according to your ideas, but the ideas of others,”

Joining Cruz in the panel was Ricky Lee who said that for people like him, writing is also a business.

“The usual situation of a writer [is when he finds out that] he has no money,” he said. He explained that writing was not an easy profession and shared how promotion played a key factor in the readership of his works. Like Cruz, he underscored the importance of considering the thoughts of his readers. “Writer ka. Businessman ka rin. I wanted to be heard, I wanted to be read, so I had to listen,” said Lee, emphasizing that the publishing industry is a competitive market.

While agreeing that there is a need to consider others’ inputs when writing, Angelo “Sarge” Lacuesta, a well-known writer and editor, underscored the importance of improving the writer’s craft.

“What I thought about first was my craft, not who I was talking to, not my audience, [and] not how many people would buy my books or my stories,” Lacuesta said. Josef Brian M. Ramil

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