Following is an excerpt from....
Emerging Trends in Philippine Publishing
By: Ms. Karina A. Bolasco
ROMANCE PAPERBACKSNext to textbooks, the biggest seller in the country today is the romance paperback or romance pocketbook.
This genre, popular anywhere in the world, is your usual boy-meets-girl (rich boy meets poor girl or whatever other variations possible) story, an almost endless relay of obstacles (the more fantastic and overwhelming, the better for the story) and finally a happy ending (Twists and turns become incredible and forced to reach the prerequisite happy ending). It's soap on print, the same kind that fills up television primetime.
From what once was dominated by the original publisher Books for Pleasure of the biggest selling Valentine romances, the market now has several players, most of them breakaway groups from Valentine. The upcoming and most aggressive, now taking the lead, is Precious Pages, run and owned by a young entrepreneur whose first exposure was in the movie business.
Romances sell 20,000 copies per title every month, and at an average release of 20 titles, they can generate a monthly gross of P14 million.
Romance paperbacks statistically have won over a large part of the comics readership. In fact, comics publishers themselves, in the mid 90s, began to reissue their serialized stories into thin novelettes selling from P10-P20 depending on number of pages. They took out the art and expanded the speech balloons. These are still in the market today but not as successful as the romance paperbacks.
Romance paperbacks, in defense against accusations of being escapist and therefore just a waste of precious trees, teeter between moralism and realism. There are lines that are obviously didactic and teach values and others that are to a high degree socially realistic but still hew closely to the formula.
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