For now the Philippines book market is depressed by the Pandemic and it seems neither domestic nor foreign digital players are ready to rise to this exciting publishing prospect.
While some parts of the world are seeing the return of in-person live book fairs and literary festivals, other parts continue to play safe and are sticking to virtual editions. Among them the Manila International Book Fair, the biggest annual literary event in the Philippines, which first went digital in 2020, and this year runs online from September 30 through October 4.
Regulars here at TNPS will know the Manila fair is one of the key events in the SE Asia literary calendar, and also a key English-language market much ignored by western publishers.
This year, as last, the virtual effort has been at best satisfactory, but not inspiring, with a focus on selling books rather than engaging with readers, with the action, such as it has been, focussed on Facebook, while sadly the MIBF twitter feed has been completely neglected this year, and the MIBF Instagram account is little more than a book sale promo.
And that’s to have missed an opportunity, at a time when more and more people around the world are heading online to sate their bookish desires.
Not least right there in the Philippines, which has 91 million people online – twelve million more than Germany!
That’s an exciting opportunity for publishers within the country and beyond, to sell print books online and of course to reach consumers with digital books, and the thinking here at TNPS is that the Philippines will be a target market for Storytel in the next year or so, as part of its Asia-Pacific Hub project.
But for now the Philippines book market is depressed by the Pandemic and it seems neither domestic nor foreign digital players are ready to rise to this exciting publishing prospect.