This meme is hosted by the official Filipino Reader Conference site to promote the 1st ever Filipino Reader Con on September 14th.
How hard or easy is it to be a book lover in the Philippines? What are some of your frustrations as a Filipino reader? And what are the positive aspects of being a reader in the Philippines?
Being a book lover in the Philippines used to be very difficult. Yes, even more difficult than it is now. Trying to find books a few years ago, especially if they’re published in the US or Europe, used to be a chore. But with the advent of technology, it’s getting easier to buy books online and have them shipped here, and I know a lot of people who do take advantage of this when they can’t find the books they’re looking for in local stores.
My problem is I don’t have the capability to buy books online, so it’s more frustrating for me than most. I have to wait for the local stores to get the books or to wait weeks for the stores to order the books for me. It’s fortunate that stores do have better selections nowadays, so I have yet to be too frustrated to have to resort to asking a relative or friend to buy something online for me. Yet. 😛 Also, the almighty Local Tax imposed on imported books scare me. And corrupt customs officials scare me even more.
Availability issues are especially true for me when it comes to obscure science fiction and fantasy titles. My only consolation is a certain store tries very hard to maintain a good selection for this genre. (Thank you, Store-That-I-Shall-Not-Name-But-You-Probably-Know-Which for carrying Sanderson titles!)
Sometimes when stores do have what I’m looking for in stock, they would only have one format available, so I either have to shell out too much for a hardbound copy of something I only wanted a paperback of, or to settle for a paperback of something I wanted a hardbound copy of. When I’m really unlucky, they would only have a box set in stock. Then sometimes when they do stock a hard-to-find title, I look at the price tag and find out I can’t afford it.
I can’t entirely blame the stores, though. (Look at what happened to Borders, and that’s a book store giant!) Books are not the foremost form of entertainment in this country, so they have to ensure that their business is viable and that most of their stocks are titles that are sure to sell. I’m still glad we have more options now, but the local stores’ ability to balance availability, variety and affordability seems to still be a hit-and-miss affair.
I came up with a personal strategy to cope with problems that I experience and to ensure that I can somehow get my hands on most of the books I want. I maintain a priority list of old and upcoming releases that I must purchase, either because they’re part of a collection or something that I just have to read as soon as possible. These are the books that I pester the book stores’ customer service personnel about or that I tend to ask fellow readers for “sightings in the wild” for.
I also have a list of books that I would like to read sometime, but are not priorities. These are books that I wouldn’t mind scrounging around in book bargain bins for or wouldn’t mind just borrowing from someone. These are also the books that make me wish the Philippines can afford to put up and maintain many good public libraries, but that’s too much to hope for right now.
I recently learned from friends who have traveled abroad that books are still generally cheaper here, and that’s a relief. It’s also great that local stores are starting to become more adventurous with their marketing strategies, what with the recent series of author events, which benefit both the store and the readers.