September 14, 2011 — more than the anticipation that mark this day as the 32nd Manila International Book Fair opened its door to the public at large was the excitement mounting when book enthusiasts all over Metro Manila, who opted to take a leave from the daily grind of the weekday, share and unite in one common cause: to celebrate readers and the love of reading here in the Philippines. Thus in droves they assembled together in SMX Mall of Asia, Meeting Room 2 to bear witness to the First Filipino Reader Conference.
The event lead off with a keynote address from Carl Javier, author of And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth, The Kobyashi Maru of Love, and, the recently released Geek Tragedies, published by UP Press; a blogger at Lumpen Culturati and (most of all) a reader where he talk about what a prosumer is, an emerging trend wherein the roles of being a consumer and producer overlaps brought by the growing and changing functions of writing, readership, and social networking.
It was then followed by a discussion on Putting up and Running up a Book Club — For the Fun of It! where I was one of the panelist (as a proxy for Kuya Doni Oliveros who can’t attend the event due to schedule conflicts) and was glad to share a thing or two about the subject based on my experiences as a co-moderator of The Filipino Group based on Goodreads, an online networking site for readers around the world. What I really enjoyed about the discussion was the things I learned both from Ms Gege Sugue of Flip Flipping Pages, a online book club since 2007 based on Shelfari, and Ms Tata Francisco of Ex Libris Philippines, an offline book club that also functions as an NGO supporting scholars studying in UP Diliman. More than what is already assumed, this led me to believe that we truly are a nation of readers — three book clubs with considerable amount of members is already proof of that!
After a short break, The Why and How of Book Blogging came next with Tarie Sabido of Asia in the Heart World on the Mind, Charles Tan of Bibliophile Stalker, Chachic Fernandez of Chachic’s Book Nook, Aldrin Calimlim of Fully Booked.Me, and Sasha Martinez of Shasha and the Silverfish as members of the panel. The discussion proved helpful and informative among attendees of the event who are planning to set up their own book blog concerning how the blog’s design/look must go hand in hand not only in attracting readers but as well as ensuring readability of the content; that networking is the name of the game and it will not hurt your pride if you put a link of your url out there in the blogosphere and get it known and as well as put up links in your blog directing others to blogs you frequent (and even those of friends) whose posts you enjoy reading; and more importantly content is king, the reason why a book blog exists and the cause for which readers/visitors to keep them on coming back and likewise to draw in new ones, too. Of all that’s said, I think what Charles Tan said (a variation of the famous John F. Kennedy quote) about asking not what the reader can do for you, but what what can you do for the reader instead, is one lesson that most struck me. I believe that’s one of the main point one must abide to both for those planning to make a blog and in maintaining one. It was also fun hearing the panelists’ various anecdotes on how they put up their individual blogs, and though blogging is a worthwhile, if not a self-gratifying activity, unfortunately it is “looked upon” as an unprofitable venture in our country whose potential as an emerging new media remains unexplored especially in promoting books, and literacy in general, by conservative publishers and entrenched practices of the book publishing industry. At the end their passion and dedication to what they do is surely contagious; they inspire me to do more in this dark, little alley, my sounding board.
Kudos to the organizers of the very first Filipino Reader Conference for it was in all ways a success! Congratulations to Ms Honeylein de Peralta for spearheading the event and the participation of others who made it all possible along with the support of their co-presenter and sponsors.
I am looking forward to the next Pinoy Reader Con next year! 🙂