Hopefully in 2016 and beyond we will continue to see at least 10 Sama Books published a year. There still remains one major hurdle to overcome. Books in Sinama are a novelty, they are not the norm. You can’t go to a bookstore and find them. Rarely will you enter a Sama home that has one. This is also true in the schools where the Sama go to school.
The price of the books is also an issue. We sold books at the 1st International Conference on the Sama Dilaut. When I started to sell the books, one of the first responses I got was, “Ata’u Milikan angahinang sīn!” (Americans sure know how to make money.) What the commentator didn’t realize is that we were barely selling the books above the cost to produce them. This didn’t include the costs that we paid to illustrators, for the printing equipment, and only can provide a meager and inconsistent income for the Sama man who helps me with the printing. It certainly didn’t cover the amount it cost to travel to Tawi-Tawi for the chance to promote the books.
However, we are doing our best to provide a valuable product at a lower cost than the market standard. We are also making the pictures and text available for free online under a creative commons license so that others who want to download and print them are free to do so. We challenge others to make a higher quality product at a lower cost than ours and to make it available to the Sama. Of course we would appreciate to hear about the success of your efforts so that we know how many units are going out. For those interested in selling or distributing wholesale we could work with you on reducing the price even further. Let’s increase both the supply and the demand together.
What are the Sama Reactions to these Books? Will demand increase?
In my last post, Highlights from the 2015 Pagtimuk Paghinang Būk ma Sinama Workshop, I already mentioned the high participation rate and interest level that the books have received by elementary and kinder students. My general observation is that when a Sama picks up the book they read it from front cover to back cover. Often upon finishing the book or while reading it the immediate result is to start a discussion. For the stories including Sama folklore, often the reader will tell the version of the story that they know or have a followup story to share from the stories they learned from their parents.
The book, Omang, about hermit crabs, seems to be a pretty simple text. I am amazed at the resulting discussions about hermit crabs that the books has inspired by adults. I can only imagine that this results from years of childhood experience chasing after and playing with hermit crabs. Whatever the case is, the story is certainly captivating for both youth and adults.
At the 1st International Conference on the Sama Dilaut, we were able to sell out more than 60 books over a span of 3 days. A few NGOs and community workers bought multiple books at once as did a few teachers. I was pleased that many of the purchasers of the Sinama Big Books were Sama who bought one or two book because they wanted to share it with their kids.
These few anecdotes encourage me to keep exploring more avenues and venues to distribute these books among the Sama. The as of now novelty of having a book in the Sinama language in one’s home can hopefully become a normal occurrence. More Sinama books in more Sama homes will spark an interest in learning and will therefore be a welcome contribution to the education and advancement of Sama people in Philippine and Malaysian society.
How to get these Sinama Books
If you are interested in ordering any of these titles please get in touch through the comments section of this post, or by sending a private message to me here on Sinama.org or by messaging our Facebook page. Current shipping is being done by LBC which costs ₱175 to ship up to 20 books in one package. We are open to more cost effective shipping methods if you are aware of any. Payments for the books and shipping can be done by GCash, LBC, or bank transfer.
We would love to make these books available for sale at your bookstore or even your sari-sari store. Sama vendors of pearls, fish, or ukay-ukay could also sell them in the communities they live in as well as those they pass through as they sell their wares. We want to do whatever we can to increase the supply of these Sinama books to Sama people.
The followup post to this one explains about a proposed sponsorship program to make the books available for free to Sama schools with high populations of Sama students. It is called: Sinama Books for Sama Schools Book Sponsorship Program.
Also if you haven’t yet, read the posts: