The pandemic has dramatically shaped the Philippine publishing industry, and health restrictions and limitations on holding and attending physical events have also hampered the book industry in the country.
Global publishing trends have shown a downward trend in 2021. In its Global Book Publishing report, IBIS World notes that the market size for the worldwide publishing industry has decreased faster than the global economy, and the sector has also shrunk compared to other manufacturing sectors. As of this writing, international book publishing ranks 32nd of 65 major sectors.
In the Philippines, mainstream publishers, backed by academic institutions, companies, and corporations, have restructured operations and have weathered the economic blows of the pandemic, as evidenced by the continuing production and distribution of print and electronic books.
Mainstream publishers have the general ability to fall back on more considerable capital and other resources, while independent publishers, authors, and other creatives cannot. Nevertheless, financial limitations are a huge burden, and the narrowing avenues for reaching intended audiences and distributing them cannot be ignored.
Amid the chaos, which necessarily involves both the public and private sectors, it is crucial for independent publishers, hand in hand with authors and other creators, to survey and analyze the changing landscape of literature and publishing in the Philippines. However, to “be indie” in the new regular poses additional, unforeseen difficulties that creatives and small publishers have not encountered before.
A special roundtable, How Indie Are You?, to be hosted by Karl Orit of the Cavite Young Writers Association (CYWA) and Criselda Santos of 8Letters Bookstore & Publishing will take place. This will be a two-hour discussion that will premiere on November 20, 2021 at 6:00 p.m., and can be viewed via TIPC-PH’s Facebook Page and YouTube channel.
Attending the roundtable discussion are MJ Cagumbay Tumamaca (Xi Zuq) of Aklat Alamid, Sarge Lacuesta of Good Intentions, Pia Perez of Southern Voices, Noel G. de Leon of Kasingkasing Press, Cindy Wong-Cortez of 8Letters, Christian De Jesus of UNGAZ PRESS, and Ronald Verzo of Balangay Books.
According to the organizers, people now miss attending physical events. Sometimes, even the smaller gatherings by independent presses are better because the people are closer, and there is a more intimate feeling when attending these events. However, the question remains—amidst the longing for a return to the previous normal and perhaps better conditions for everyone, how is independent publishing today? How are independent publishers coping with the reduction in sales and other issues that prevent normal operations? What is the book industry’s continuing role, and where is everyone situated in these difficult, transforming times? And is there a future waiting for creatives and independent publishers alike?
These hard-hitting questions aim to shed light on the material conditions of those who can’t help but be on the ground. The books we hold and cherish rarely reveal how they were made—and now, independent publishers and creatives are opening the well-worn doors of non-mainstream presses to show everyone exactly what they’ve been missing.