Filipino Book Bloggers (Part 2)
Early talk at the get-together went to local publishing, taking off from where someone started by sharing her experiences with publishers during the recently concluded Future Of The Book conference. In a nutshell, she was taken aback that many of the publishers were surprised at the existence of so many young readers who blog, that they, in fact, didn't know that this highly passionate and vocal segment of the reading market existed, or that they even kept in touch with each other via online social networks, email, or just plain following each others' blogs.
The general feeling is that local publishers just put out the books they want to put out without regard for what the reading market want to read. There is a heavy emphasis on certain categories of material locally, so much so that other categories (or genres, if you will, haha) are underserved, or even unserved. Publishing, someone else said, is a business, that much is clear, but if marketing as a part of business is also understanding and knowing the consumer, then the publishers could do a better job of learning more about this passionate segment of readers that are more than willing to read a more varied lineup of local books. How to learn about them? Well, since these readers are active online, it would do well for publishers to track and read their blogs, then to support them as a book group, to perhaps even give advanced reading copies of books they're interested in so that they can blog about them, which can serve as some sort of online advertising already. Even a negative review may actually help in learning just what local readers are after from local publishers.
The point is, publishers should keep track of readers, especially the young ones, and it's not as difficult to do as before thanks to the internet. In this way, they can learn about what their market likes and dislikes and then make their publishing decisions accordingly, and less of either a guessing game or of a single-type of release.
For balance, it was also pointed out that even if it is slow, there has indeed been a shift in the types of books being released. Even if the more common and expected types of fiction and non-fiction are still around, there are a slowly growing number of other categories of books written and released by local writers, ones that are, as another blogger said, more accessible to readers. The growing variety can only help in growing the total number of readers.
The implication I got from listening to all the talk is that though it is good to have a lot of the standard fare that we've been getting through the years, it's also good to have books from the other end of the spectrum, those that tend to be taken less seriously, as well as everything else inbetween. The bottom line is choice for the readers, a choice of titles in fiction and non-fiction that can cater to the varying tastes that are part of any market made up of disparate individuals. The eventual sharing and discussion of these books, and ergo, of these tastes, the likes and dislikes, can actually then serve to grow interest in all sorts of books, and thus, grow the reading market. A steady serving of the same thing over and over again can only lead to disinterest, maybe even stagnation.
What is certain is that there are readers out there who love books and reading with a passion, and would absorb what local publishers have to offer if only what was being offered matches their desired reading material.
Whoah, so much for the serious, heavy stuff. My own personal and fun experiences of the get-together soon.
Related links: Filipino Book Bloggers 1, 2, 3, 4.