The toll of the war on Ukrainian publishers
An online survey of the Ukrainian book market conducted by Anastasiia Zagorui on behalf of the Ukrainian specialized publication Chytomo was conducted from March 26 to April 8. Eighty-one publishers took part in the survey, which examines how the publishing community has adapted to wartime conditions; Of these, 10% said they were forced to stop their activities, including 4mamas Publishing House, Abrykos, Booksha, DIPA, Mamino, Oleksandr Savchuk, Osnova Publishing Group and Smoloskyp. Others, like Blym-Blym, Ïzhak, and Klio, were seriously compromised. The majority of publishers, 51%, continue to publish but have changed their operating models, taking measures such as reducing their working hours. Thirty-nine percent of publishers had not changed models at the time of the survey.
In a comment, the Creative Women Publishing team said that despite the war, they are back on track with all of their projects. “Despite the fact that the publishing house’s employees are geographically dispersed – some remained in Ukraine and others abroad – everyone remains in contact,” Creative Women reported.
Many publishers responded that they were continuing to work as normal but allowing displaced employees to work remotely and accelerating e-book production. Publishing house Nash Format said Chytomo that members of its editorial department work in different regions of Ukraine and abroad, and that the vast majority of its freelancers, including translators, continue to work. The publisher focuses on titles that will be of particular interest during the war and in the post-war period.
Many publishers continue to work on projects they started before the invasion, including hosting readings and events. “We are looking for ways to financially support our authors,” said Yevheniia Lopata of the Meridian Czernowitz cultural festival. “Namely, we organize readings of our authors in front of a German-speaking audience, mainly online. We already have an agreement with the University of Applied Arts in Vienna for a series of public lectures and literary events with our authors”
Representatives of Ranok Publishing, based in Kharkiv, which was heavily bombed by the Russian army, said Chytomo, “Our team has reached an agreement with a Polish printing company to publish our books for Ukrainian refugees. They are distributed free of charge to children who are currently in Poland. The same will soon be done in the Czech Republic.
Some physical bookstores in Ukrainian cities, mainly in the west of the country, said Chytomo they resumed their activities. Bookstores and cafes of the Staryi Lev publishing house operated in Lviv, but not in Kyiv, Odessa or Dnipro. The KSD Bookclub stores were also open.
Of the publishers surveyed, 55% did not move, 36% partially moved to Ukraine, 7% moved entirely to Ukraine, and 2% moved abroad.
The Yakaboo publishing house has transported one million Ukrainian books from its warehouse in Kyiv to western Ukraine. But several other publishers, including ACCA, IST and Ïzhak, have stuck millions of book copies in warehouses in Kyiv and Kharkiv. “It is not possible to sell books, because the rented warehouse is currently closed and there are no more employees in Kyiv,” said representatives of the Clio publishing house. Chytomo.
The war reduced sales, with 95% of publishers reporting that sales dropped dramatically in the first month of the war. As a result, 17% of publishers were still paying full salary, 55% were paying reduced salaries, and 28% had been unable to pay employees at all.
Looking for overseas support
As for working with international partners, 24.6% of publishers have established cooperation with publishers abroad, 51% plan to do so, and 24.4% say they do not know how to enter the international market. Part of this cooperation took the form of support on social media. “From the early days of the full-scale war, we communicated with our foreign writers and encouraged them to support Ukraine on their social media,” Nash format representatives reported. “Additionally, author Ryan Holiday donated approximately $15,000 to Ukraine.” One publisher, Chas Majstriv, opened a branch in Krakow, Poland. Rodovid Publishing House works with colleagues in Canada.
Among recent deals for Ukrainian titles, that of Larysa Denysenko Maya and her mothers will be published by British company Bonnier Books, with proceeds going to UNICEF to support Ukrainian children. UK publisher Pushkin Press will publish Designland, or a walk in the area by Markian Kamysh; The Polish Wydawnictwo KEW will publish the girl by Tamara Gorikha Zernia; and Romany Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv The war that changed Rondo will be issued by three international houses.
In addition, the team of Ranok Publishing House – with the support of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science, the Ukrainian Institute for Modernization of Educational Content and European Publishing Group partners educational – actively worked to make Ukrainian textbooks freely available. to all students in Europe.
Help out at home
Of the publishers surveyed, 86.6% have employees who volunteer for humanitarian efforts and 30.5% have employees serving in combat roles. “Since the beginning of the war, we have established a headquarters with our authors to coordinate the installation of temporarily displaced artists in Bukovina and Transcarpathia,” said Lopata of Meridian Czernowitz. Chytomo. “Every day we welcome people from other cities in Ukraine, mainly from Kharkiv and Kyiv regions. The families of our team members help transport humanitarian aid from Romania to Chernivtsi, where it is sorted and transferred to Ukraine. Other publishers help raise funds for displaced people and help with logistics efforts.
Several employees of Ukrainian publishers have disappeared or been killed. “Unfortunately, we have no information about many of our authors who are now in Mariupol,” said representatives of the Bukrek publishing house. “They have not been in contact since March 2 and they are not on the lists of evacuees.”
Among those who have died as a result of the war are Mykola Kravchenko, founder of the publisher Orientir, who was killed in a bombardment on March 14. Historian and publicist Serhiy “Deimos” Zaikovsky, one of the translators of the Plomin publishing house, was killed during a counter-offensive by the Ukrainian army. Dmitry Yevdokymov, one of the authors of Rights and Responsibilities: Your Guide to Citizenshipand author Yuri Ruf, whose books were published by the Zalizny Tato, were also killed.
Bringing culture to life
IST has published three new titles since the start of the war, and publishing houses Anetta Antonenko, Knygolav and Folio have started selling books online. Others offer free access to certain books.
Most editors said Chytomo that the actions of the Ukrainian government should focus on presenting Ukrainian culture abroad, to help build a positive image of the country. Additionally, publishers have said they would like the government to help the industry through cultural subsidies, tax benefits and help promoting the sale of foreign rights.
Some publishers said they put their hope in European institutions, such as the International Renaissance Foundation and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Others suggested contacting other international organizations that could distribute books overseas.
“We cannot lose these spheres and people, because it is of vital importance to be a cultural nation,” said representatives of the Zhorzh publisher. Chytomo. “Book publishing will not resurrect on its own; support and investment are needed.
One form of foreign support for Ukrainian publishers is the distribution of books to Ukrainian refugees and emigrants abroad: “Book purchases for temporarily displaced persons and Ukrainians abroad will enable the publishing industry to somehow keep afloat,” said representatives of the Bukrek publishing house. lodge.
Investing in e-books and libraries
The survey also revealed a consensus to support e-books and other innovations to provide Ukrainians with access to books in their native language, wherever they are. Representatives of Nebo BookLab Publishing said Chytomo, “Enriching the publishing portfolio with e-books for Ukrainians who have moved to read is also an option. We should communicate through bloggers etc. that the publishing house is still running and encourage people to buy books.
Anastasia Gulko, Head of Print at Laurus, said, “Now that it’s clear we need to keep going, we’ve focused on creating e-books. We have been planning this for a long time, but something was bothering us until there was no alternative. We have found partners thanks to whom we will be able to distribute e-books abroad, particularly in Poland. In addition, we continue what we started before the war, that is to say the systematization of our electronic archives and the publication of paper books. There are some projects that just have to wait for victory to be delivered. So we wait. »
Another area of agreement was the government’s importance in promoting library purchases, especially in areas affected by the invasion, and children’s books. “Direct funds to cover translation and printing costs, to support the library fund replenishment program, in which school libraries could also be included, especially in areas where Ukrainians were forced to relocate after a full-scale invasion – these are steps that must be taken,” Kalamar representatives said.
Of course, almost everyone in the Ukrainian publishing community said that the world should continue to boycott Russian businesses, ban them from participating in public events, and ban the sale of foreign rights to Russian books.
Komubuk representatives said Chytomo, “Defeat the enemy!” Close all paths to Russian literature. Stop the activities of all Russian publishing houses, subsidiaries and booksellers. This is how we move forward together towards our common victory.
A version of this article originally appeared in the 05/30/2022 issue of Weekly editors under the title: The toll of the war on Ukrainian publishers