What is the raison d'etre of a book publisher? What are the ethics of book publishing? What is the importance of book publishing to a developing society? In a superb talk titled What Is A Publisher To Do?, Karina Bolasco, a Filipino publisher, dwells on these isses and provokes much thought, very relevant in the Indian context too. She was speaking at the Congress of the International Publishers Association, Berlin (June 21-24 2004). The transcript of the talk is provided below.
What Is A Publisher To Do? by Karina Bolasco
Guten morgen, Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
This is my first time in Berlin but not in Germany as I have been to Frankfurt a good number of times. I have such warm memories of Germans because I was educated in Manila in the 70s by Benedictine nuns, half of whom were still German, In fact, I stayed in their dormitory for four years and remember them distinctly for their firmness and steadfastness, for their sense of equality and discipline. And for being chased back into the dormitory by a German Shepherd every time we were still on pay phones past curfew.
As must be true for most of us, this same education I suspect has helped me decide on a host of moral issues I am confronted with daily, small and big. Those of us involved in the trafficking of ideas, whether in education or media communications, suddenly realize that there really are no small decisions because of the way a teaching method or learning treatise, a film or documentary, an investigative report, or a book impacts on the consciousness of a public. Books have even more power in a perennially developing country like ours where the textbook is still the dominant and sometimes only educational tool, the teacher’s bible she will never doubt or question, much less argue with. Books, coming from traditions of religion and scholarship, have fixity and authority.