In solidarity with Ukrainian publishers…

All About Book Publishing reached out to two publishers in Ukraine to know more about the Ukrainian book market before and during the Russia-Ukraine war. Excerpts.

Julia Orlova

Yuliia Orlova is CEO of “Vivat” (Factor Group), which is one of the three largest publishers in Ukraine. The publishing house is located in the city of Kharkiv, which is on the border with Russia and has been shelled by artillery and missiles from the first day of the full-scale invasion until today. “Vivat” publishing house was founded after merging of two Ukrainian publishing houses “Pelican” and “Argument-print” on August 20, 2013. Today, it is a part of “Factor” group of companies. The main focus of publisher`s activities are non-fiction, fiction, literature for children and teenagers.

Sergiy Kleimenov is CEO of Knigolove Publishing House, which was established in 2016. Within the Ukrainian market, Knigolove is widely known as a publisher of bestsellers for children and adults, both translated and Ukrainian.

Ukraine book market…

Sergiy Kleimenov“The size of our market is nearly 130 thousand dollars a year. It is published by the Ukrainian Book Institute. Before the war in Ukraine, there were nearly 200 bookstores and four book marketplaces (Yakaboo, Knyharnia Ye, Nash Format, BookOpt). The main book events in Ukraine are Book Arsenal in Kyiv and Bookforum in Lviv. In 2019, the Book Arsenal was recognized as the best literary festival of the year at the International Publishing Industry Excellence Awards organized by the London Book Fair,” tells Kleimenov.

“According to experts, the annual turnover of the book market in Ukraine is $100 million. Only 43% of Ukrainians read regularly. One of the key features of Ukrainian book market is that 80% of it consists of translated literature. At the same time, all high-quality local non-fiction is in great demand. Libraries are also truly needful for Ukrainians, as people cannot buy new books in large quantities due to their financial situation,” adds Orlova.

On popular genres…

“We publish feel-good and heart-touching fiction; psychology and sociology; health and wellness; lifestyle; cookbooks; and children’s titles (fiction, nonfiction, interactive and educational books). Among our translated titles are books by Fredrick Backman, Heather Morris, Edith Eger, Colson Whitehead and others. We cooperate with prominent Ukrainian authors and celebrities. We published a book War for Reality by Dmytro Kuleba, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, about information warfare. We collaborated with Yevhen Klopotenko, one of the most famous culinary experts in Ukraine. Irena Karpa is one of our star-authors. Her books about life are bestsellers in Ukraine. Our children’s books are our pride. We create them with the help of famous writers, psychologists, and illustrators. These interactive educational picture books help children grow up and discover the world. Our mission is to create books for people who want to change themselves and the world around them for the better.Ukrainians also like our books because of their quality, very good design, paper, covers and other elements,” tells Kleimenov. “Oleksandr Avramenko’s first book, 100 Express Lessons in Ukrainian had sold more than 10,000 copies in just one month. Oleksandr is a very famous teacher of Ukrainian. He is a professor who has his own TV show. It’s our evergreen project,” he adds.

“Our most popular genre of sales is fantasy. Our readers love Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses sagas. Holly Black with her bestselling Folk of the Air series is also popular in the genre. Running second to fantasy is children books and the third most popular category is non-fiction fem literature. This is definitely a book that took not only women’s issues to a new level, but also discussions in society, Invisible Women written by Perez Caroline Criado, as well as Maye Musk’s book A Woman Makes a Plan,” tells Orlova.

“Each year Vivat publishes 400 new books on average. Almost all of our books were in Ukrainian, with the exception of 3 percent in Russian. However, from the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we completely decided to abandon the idea of producing books in Russian. In addition, we will no longer print books by Russian authors, nor will we cooperate with organizations affiliated with Russian business,” tells Orlova.

Reaching readers through online bookstores…

“Our online store offers readers a wide range of books. We offer books not only of Vivat Publishing House, but also books of all Ukrainian publishing houses. We are very careful with the selection of books, which will be presented on the site, so that each reader has a chance to find something to his or her liking. In addition, we try to offer our readers the most interesting novelty products. In our online store you can always find interesting promotions, as well as selections of books for all tastes. The latest one is our certificates for books. Now anyone can buy a certificate for a certain amount of money and not to make a mistake in choosing the “wrong” book. It is also a great opportunity to support our publishing house financially, because with the beginning of the war we are experiencing some difficulties with profit earning,” tells Orlova.

On Translations…

“All of our top sales today are foreign literature. Not many Ukrainians know foreign languages well enough to be able to read without translation. That is why we regularly buy the rights to foreign books, so that people have a chance to read books that are out of interest for them in their native language. We have a whole team of editors working on translations, who try to make the translated text as close to the original as possible, but at the same time take into account the cultural code of our society,” tells Orlova.

“We buy the rights to our books mainly in the USA, England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland. Our books have been sold to more than 25 countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Italy, Latvia, Germany, China, Poland, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Croatia, Georgia and Montenegro. In the future, we are ready to sell the rights to our books to any countries other than Russia,” tells Orlova.

“We translate from different languages like English, Swedish, Czech, Spanish, French, Polish and others,” adds Kleimenov. “We buy rights from USA, Great Britain, France, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Poland, Sweden.”

Other activities…

Vivat actively promotes Ukrainian books abroad through presentations and the sale of rights to Ukrainian editions. Vivat sells rights to books in 26 countries, including the United States of America, Germany, France, Great Britain, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Asian countries, etc. “Today the publishing house cooperates with a large number of world-renowned publishers, including Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Éditions Albin Michel and Macmillan Publishers. Vivat has also published the memoirs of Maye Musk, Golda Meir, John Bolton, Winston Churchill, and many other popular historical figures.We also take an active part in the cultural life of Ukraine, promoting reading in our region and country. For example, the publishing house organizes book festivals in stores, museums, galleries, in city streets, and donates books to local libraries,” tells Orlova.

Popular books that can be popular in India too…

“It’s a book Polly written by Vitaly Zapeka. The author wrote it while defending the Donbas in 2015. At that time on the front line, he got to know that his daughter was pregnant. Realizing that he might die in the war and his granddaughter would not have a grandfather, he wrote the book Polly for her. A book about how a little girl Polinka and her kind and loving grandfather are playing with one another,” tells Orlova.

“Another beautiful book is Fearless Stories by Kateryna Yegorushkina, who is a Ukrainian writer, poet, and psychologist. Kateryna is engaged in storytelling therapy, and this book is also therapeutic,” adds Orlova.

“The practicable nonfiction by Dmytro Kuleba about information warfare, adventure novels by Hlib Husev and Irena Karpa, travel-books ‘Ukraine’ and ‘These Amazing Ukrainians’, cookbooks by Yevhen Klopotenko, for children – Letters from the Post at the Lighthouse by Tania Postavna, Vet Lou by Alina Shtefan, The City is Me by Iryna Ozymok, and I’m Going to the Doctor’s Today by Svitlana Royz, are few of the books which will find audience in India as well” tells Kleimenov. “We want to ask people from the book industry in India just to review our books. We believe you will find interesting titles for your readers. In Ukraine, there are a lot of great illustrators and authors. They create very interesting and actual books. Your attention and support are very important to us,” tells Kleimenov.

Coping with the crisis…

“To cope with the crisis caused by the war, Vivat takes a number of measures to save the business. We are selling copyrights to foreign customers. Due to the growing number of refugees abroad, the demand for Ukrainian books has increased significantly. Ukrainians, and especially children, want to read books in their native language, even when they are far from their homeland. We have also become more active in foreign market, and soon will open our first office in Poland to distribute books there. Besides, we are adapting to modern conditions. Today, there is no working printing house in Kharkiv because of the constant bombardment, and over 50 of our new books are ready to be printed. To be able to print them, our team found a new print shop and warehouse in the west of the country,” tells Orlova.

On war in Ukraine…

“Ukraine is in great need of informational support right now. In addition to informational assistance, you can also help publishers financially, because all publishers in Ukraine have significantly reduced their income because of the war. You can do this by, for example, paying for the printing of some of their new books. Apart from direct financial support to the business, you will also help the cultural life of Ukrainians to continue to live and develop,” tells Orlova.

“This is time to be more united, to cooperate more and to contest less. People from the publishing industry in many countries support us today. Some print our books, some buy the rights to our books, and some sell our books. It is a chance for us to survive. This solidarity with Ukraine is much appreciated,” concludes Kleimenov.

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