Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bad news for bookworms...

If there was one good thing about living in the Philippines, it was the fact that we had access to all sorts of books at reasonable prices. I've never felt the need to buy a book abroad because I could always count on them making it to our shores at a price that is more suited to my budget and our economy.

Well, it looks like the end of the road for this good thing. Apparently, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight had become so successful that it got the Philippine customs' attention. A customs examiner named Rene Agulan demanded that duty be paid on it. The importer paid the tax, which paved the way for imported books to be held at customs and frenzied booksellers negotiating for their release.

This goes against the Florence Agreement, a UN treaty which the Philippines signed in 1952, guaranteeing the free flow of "educational, scientific, and cultural" materials between countries and declaring that imported books should be duty-free.

Of course, in the Philippines, where what matters most is lining one's pockets with money, the people in power don't really care about encouraging our people to read. What's important is the potential revenue they're going to get with this latest gold mine.

What's going to happen next? Maybe we'll get less books. Maybe book prices will skyrocket. Maybe buying books abroad and then putting them in your suitcase will constitute smuggling -- it is now a taxable item after all. The situation doesn't look good.

Anyways, it's just sad that it has to come to this. For the full details, read The Great Book Blockade of 2009 here - http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/manila/1dispatch6.html

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