A Turkish publisher views…
Nazl?Berivan Ak of April Publishing House shares her views on the Istanbul Fellowship Programme 2019.
AABP: How did you get to know about the Istanbul Fellowship Programme.
Nazl?Berivan Ak: As a publisher I have been working quite close with two publishers’ associations in Turkey and have been following their events. When they made the announcement for the fellowship programme, I informed my international publisher friends and colleagues to be a part of it and made my application too.
AABP: Your views as to how the Fellowship has progressed over the last 4 years.
Nazl?Berivan Ak: The Istanbul Fellowship Programme is growing fast and successful, every year we have more international publishers, agents, writers and NGOs to be a part of the programme. In the first years, our guests were mostly interested in selling their rights but especially in 2019, this changed and now I see more and more publishers who are interested in buying rights, interested in Turkish literature and festivals we are working on here.
AABP: Your objectives for the Fellowship programme? And were they met?
Nazl?Berivan Ak: My main objective was to present my Turkish writers, namely AlperCaniguz, Murat Mentes, Afsin Kum, and inform the international publishers about the new wave of Turkish literature, which earn their success from their local roots and universal themes. I am happy that I had the chance to share their texts and missions with the fellows and good news, I have had the chance to sign four contracts, including the German rights for Afsin Kum’s novel.
AABP: What were the positives of the programme? And the positive outcome for you?
Nazl?Berivan Ak: ?stanbul Fellowship Programme not only gave us the opportunity to have meetings all day long but also gave the time to spend time in ?stanbul, show our beauties, local and historical places. By the end of the programme, I had the chance of not only having good network but also good friends.
AABP: What is the importance of the Fellowship Programme for you as a publisher?
Nazl?Berivan Ak: Learning more about international book world, sharing experiences and creating new ideas for publishing, promoting and translating.
AABP: What are the challenges you face in publishing?
Nazl?Berivan Ak: It’s quite a complicated issue though. We have a great crisis of paper nowadays in Turkey, we are trying to solve that problem. The other real challenge in English is the lingua franca and it is not easy to find the good publishers, editors who would read and publish our literature. But challenges give me more energy and courage and with programmes and fairs like ?stanbul, I feel more hopeful for the future of Turkish book industry and Turkish literature.
AABP: Do you think connecting on an International Platform such as this can help?
Nazl?Berivan Ak: For sure. As an example when I met with Pranav from Rajpal & Sons in the programme and learned more about his list, I was mesmerized, him in another part of the world and me in Turkey are having the same notion of literature, choosing similar works and promoting our books in different but same creative ways. Now I have a “fellow” from India, which makes me happy and proud.
AABP: What are the current trends in Turkey publishing world?
Nazl?Berivan Ak: Crime novel is becoming more and more popular here in Turkey, also interactive literature is the new trend (like choose-your-own-adventure books). We are not stuck with bestseller lists but creating our own. Our literature is spreading in the world which makes me think we need to be working harder to write new and fresh stories to introduce to the world.
AABP: A brief about the Turkish Book Market.
Nazl?Berivan Ak: Number of new book titles produced in Turkey increased to 10.82% in 2017. Turkey kept its 11th position in the world ranking with number of new books. Due to the harm caused in educational publishing by changes in exams, Turkish publishing sector size reduced from 2.1 billion USD to 1.6 billion USD and therefore, in terms of turnover, Turkey went down from the 11th rank to the 16th in the global publishing industry.
Nazl?Berivan Ak graduated from Faculty of Languages, History and Geography in Ankara University and she got her master’s degree of Latin and Ancient Greek at the same department. She continues her doctoral degree at the Department of History of Religions in Faculty of Theology. She is the editor of April Publishing since 2009. She translates works from Ancient Greek, Latin and English, she writes textual analysis for various newspapers and magazines.
April Publishing House is the Turkish publisher of Han Kang, Jodi Picoult, Scarlett Thomas, Akhil Sharma, John Perkins, Laura Hillenbrand, Kurt Vonnegut, Gretchen Rubin, Tibor Fischer, Cory Doctorow, Charles Soule, Adam Fawer and many other important names. They are also the publishers of the new age modern Turkish literature, namely AlperCan?güz, Murat Mente?, Murat Uyurkulak, Afsin Kum and other names, who are bestsellers and longsellers in Turkey. In the near future, they will be publishing Latitudes of Longing, by Shubhangi Swarup.