DAVAO CITY—The Malaysian founder of the world’s biggest traveling book sale has found a “reading culture” among Filipinos that he said he has not seen in his country.
All that needs to be done, said Andrew Yap, founder of Big Bad Wolf (BBW) is put books in the hands of Filipinos.
Yap, who is also BBW managing director, said the appetite for reading by Filipinos impressed him more than the hunger for reading he saw among Indonesians, which he said was driven mainly by Indonesians’ desire to learn English.
Yap said if books could be made affordable and accessible to as many Filipinos as possible, there’s no telling how much the Philippines could grow.
“Everywhere we go, Filipinos are avid readers,” said Yap. He said it was something “we haven’t seen in developing countries.”
“The Filipinos have this—huge readership,” he said.
“It would make it easier for the country to grow if you could put books in people’s hands,” Yap said. “The nation will change very quickly,” he added as book lovers swarmed Azuela Cove’s Enderun Tent here for the second BBW event in the city that runs from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2.
He said Malaysia, where he came from, had been a more developed country but it had no readership like the Philippines’.
“I came from Malaysia, which is more developed but we don’t have a reading culture,” said the BBW founder.
“But here, when you have a reading culture, all you need is to make books accessible and affordable,” he added.
He said, though, that Indonesia remained to be BBW’ biggest market simply because of the bigger population and the hunger to learn English.
“You see, right now, English has never been more so important to the world as it is today,” said Yap.
“It is the international language, the language of business so if we don’t have English you’ll (be left behind),” he said.
“Indonesians know this,” he added.
He said children’s books are enjoying good sales in Indonesia but in the Philippines, the market is more mature.
Works of fiction, he said, are enjoying brisk sales among Filipinos but “basically, every genre is doing very well here.”
“The market is like a First World country market,” Yap said. “It has a very mature readership,” he said.
Yap said BBW had been swamped by requests to bring the book event to other Philippine cities, like Cagayan de Oro and Bacolod.
Aside from Manila, Cebu and Davao, BBW had already gone to cities in the provinces of Pampanga and Iloilo.
The book sale event here had been done simultaneously with a BBW event in Taiwan, Yap said. Germelina Lacorte