Contrary to misconceptions that we don’t read, Filipinos actually love to read. In fact, a 2017 Readership Survey commissioned by the National Book Development Board (NBDB) shows that majority of Filipino respondents still read printed books.
“In my experience for more than 20 years, Filipinos read. It’s just that maybe that time, books are expensive. Now it has become digital, reading has become more accessible,” said Segundo “Jun” Matias Jr, company president and general manager of Precious Pages, the company that publishes the industry’s bestsellers, Precious Hearts Romances (PHR), during its Dito Ka Masaya Grand Fans Day 2019.
The survey continued that of the 1,200 adult respondents with ages 18 and above, 921 or 76.75% say they have read a printed book in the last 12 months, while 1,020 or 84.99% of youth respondent with ages six to 17 say they have read printed books in the same time period.
Of the genre of books, romance or love ranked fourth with 48.17 % of adult readers, while Bible is still the most read book at 72.25 %, followed by picture books and storybooks for children at 53 percent, and the short story for children at 52.08 %.
Treat to loyal readers
Every two years, PHR brings treat to its loyal readers. This year, Dito Ka Masaya Grand Fans Day 2019 was aimed at forging a stronger relationship with its community through fun activities, meet and greets, and exclusive performances held at The Space, JRich Building, Sto. Domingo Ave., Quezon City on March 30, 2019.
“Readers like engagements. They want to see the writers behind their favorite stories and characters. We used to hold it in the malls, but now we have a place. It’s more intimate – where writers can talk to their readers and vice versa,” said Matias.
During the media gathering, Precious Pages also launched 32 new and exciting titles for 2019 with genres ranging from romance, gothic romances to horror. It was graced by its famous authors such as Rose Tan, Sonia Francesca, Luna King, Vanessa, Lush Ericson, Sofia, and Wattpad-writers-turned-PHR-writers such as Jian, Ms. Buttterfly, C.D. De Guzman, Xavier John Ford, and Princess Cordova, who were very game in answering questions from the media.
Instead of a cul-de-sac, PHR has seen an opportunity. Wattpad, a popular online platform for authors, has provided an avenue for the discovery of promising talents in the country. With a similar purpose, PHR has birthed Booklat, another online literary outlet specifically targeting Gen Z and millennial readers who are familiar with the brand.
“We try to evolve and embrace change because we do not believe that it has to be ‘Jurassic’. We encourage our writers to write timeless and classic stories that even our generation today can still relate to,” Matias added.
PHR has searched wide over these platforms to find writers of quality stories – regardless of the number of their followers or readers. With its new writers, it has proven that PHR stands the test of time and is still on the game of pulling Filipino readers’ heartstring.
“PHR has introduced online writers from Wattpad two years ago. Of course, we screen them. We look for quality stories. We are not really more on the number of followers but on the quality of their stories,” he added.
From the company which started in 1981 with one book by now an award-winning director, Patricia Gil who introduced Matias to the pocketbook, Precious Pages is now publishing 40 to 50 titles a month.
For aspiring writers
Every year, PHR holds two-day brainstorming sessions for selected contract writers. On top of this, their creative group sits together to come up with plots that will be offered to willing writers. Sometimes, authors are commissioned to write them.
For aspiring Precious Pages authors, writing workshops are given for free. If you believe you can be part of something bigger or aspire to be the next bestselling Filipino romance author in the country, send your manuscript via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From here on, PHR guarantees that readers can only look forward to more good stories from their homegrown writers and online writers.