The National Book Development Council of Singapore (The Book Council) is a non-profit, charitable organisation committed to addressing the needs of publishers, book suppliers, and libraries, as well as the reading and writing communities. Founded in 1969, the Book Council has been setting the stage for a vibrant literary arts community in Singapore for the past four decades.

The Book Council initiated the Festival of Books and Book Fairs in 1969, and with Reed Exhibitions launched the International Library Expo (ILE) in 1998. Since 1990 the Council has been organising the prestigious Singapore Literature Prize. In January 2006, the Singapore Writers Centre (SWC) was set up with the support of the National Arts Council. SWC has been providing consultation services to aspiring writers by answering their queries on writing and publishing and directing them to the relevant channels.

The Book Council has now set its sights on energising publishers, writers and related professionals with the objective of developing Singapore into an International centre for writers and publishers of Asian Content.

Why and How the Book Council was formed

The term book development was coined by UNESCO to cover the myriad range of people, processes and skills which go into the making and reading of a book. At the start, the writer conceives and writes the book; the illustrator, book designer and editor add their contribution before the work goes to the printer who produces the physical object; the publisher provides the capital and the expertise for all these stages and is also responsible for the marketing and promotion of the book through advertisements, book reviews and other means. The book is distributed mainly through the bookseller who sells it in his bookshop or to institutional buyers such as libraries and schools in order that it reaches its final destination – the individual reader.

UNESCO promotion of National Book Development Councils

In the mid – 1960s, UNESCO held a series of regional meetings in Asia, Africa, the Arab States and Latin America to assess long-term book needs and assist in working out national policies and strategies to overcome the book hunger in these areas. It was at these meetings that UNESCO also encouraged the formation of National Book Development Councils which could play a key role in promoting and coordinating all areas of book development activity in harmony with overall national development.

Inauguration of the National Book Development Council of Singapore

Educationalists, publishers, printers, book sellers, librarians and authors together with the government officials from the Ministries of Education and Culture, met for the first time in November 1966 to discuss the problem of book development in Singapore.

A major outcome was a recommendation urging the Ministry of Culture to take the lead in establishing a National Book Development Council. Another was the formation of the Singapore Book Publishers’ Association (SBPA) in May 1968. Headed by Donald Moore, it started with 12 members and increased its membership to 29 in its first year.

The Council was finally registered as a non-profit society on 19 December 1968 and formally inaugurated on 13 February 1969 by then the Ministry for Culture, Mr Jek Yeun Thong, with 12 members representing government and non-government educational, cultural, publishing, printing, library and bookselling associations and institutions. Its place of business was designated as National Library. Thus the Council was born with official government blessing and given government support through ad hoc grants for specific projects.

Our New Vision

To establish and develop Singapore as the Asian Centre for Publishing and the Literary Arts.

Our New Mission

The Council’s mission is to lead the community of professional – writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, librarians and booksellers – towards our new vision with programmes to bring them together to network, share, cooperate, train and undertake research.

Our Objectives

The Council has two broad objectives:

Our Logo

The ‘Y’ lines of the new logo symbolise an open book both in print and in electronic format. The rainbow colours represent the colours and imagination of the reading, writing and publishing experience as well as the new directions and the renewed dynamism of the council.

NAC Major Grant

NBDCS is a recipient of the National Arts Council's Major Grant for the period from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2016.