At least once in our lives, we have held a book penned by the anonymous author Bob Ong. Perhaps ABNKKBSNPLAko?! or Bakit Baliktad Magbasa ng Libro ang mga Pilipino was your gateway to Bob Ong’s humorous body of work. Beyond the author, the one thing that made this literary phenomenon possible is publisher Visprint.
In a Reddit thread published yesterday, user dontrescueme shared a screenshot of poet and fictionist Edgar Calabia Samar about the forthcoming closure of Visprint. The title of the thread indicates the closure would happen in 2020.
Visprint confirmed the news in a Facebook post earlier today. Unlike what the Reddit thread indicated, however, the publishing house is closing in 2021. This leaves us two more years to support their existing catalog of books; Visprint will no longer publish new works.
In a Facebook post, writer Jerry Gracio, whose book Bagay Tayo was published by Visprint, recalled the history and impact of Visprint on our country’s publishing industry.
According to Gracio, Visprint started as a photocopying and mimeographing business along Recto Ave. in 1984. It was in 2001 when the business grew into a book publisher under the name Visual Print Enterprise, which was eventually changed to Visprint in 2009.
While Visprint is not a huge publishing house, Gracio considers Visprint a game-changer in the publishing industry.”Bilang publisher, nagsugal ang Visprint kay Bob Ong, o maari ring nagsugal si Bob Ong sa Visprint. At nanalo ang sugal na iyon. Umani si Bob Ong ng mga mambabasa. Nilawakan ng Visprint ang paglalathala at hinatak ang mga mambabasang una nang nagbasa kay Bob Ong patungo sa iba pa nating mga manunulat,” he wrote, citing writers like Eros Atalia, Bebang Siy, Jun Cruz Reyes, among others.
Visprint also played a role in empowering contemporary comics artist and writers like Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldismo (Trese), Carlo Vergara (Zsazsa Saturnnah), Mervin Malonzo (Tabi Po), and Manix Abrera (Kikomachine).
This is a sad news to both practitioners in the publishing industry and readers. Does this mean that we’re really seeing the rise of digital? Or does this mean our reading habits are shifting, too?
“Maaaring hindi nito nagapi si Goliath, pero ipinakita sa atin ng Visprint ang mga posibilidad kung paanong mababago, kahit paano, ang publishing landscape sa bansa, kapag tinayaan nito ang ating mga manunulat at manlilikha,” Gracio wrote.
Thank you for two decades of empowering writers and readers, Visprint. We’ll keep your books on our shelves.
Art by Marx Fidel