In conjunction with the Publishing in Russia 2012 print report, PW will be adding a series of articles on the Russian book industry in the weeks leading up to the Read Russia 2012 Festival (running June 1-8 in New York City). Check back here weekly for each new report.
Read Russia 2012: Corpus Books on Cover Design
In the Soviet era, when distribution and publishing were state-owned operations, there was little need to distinguish one book or publisher from the next. Today, a vastly different picture has emerged: it is that of a fully privatized Russian book industry, a crumbled distribution network, and an increasingly competitive marketplace flooded with new titles. Limited shelf space and shorter shelf lives means books have to fight for consumer attention. Content by itself is no longer enough to sell a book. Design and presentation sells too.
The alliance, formally launched at the 2011 Non/Fiction Book Fair, is a barely six-month-old "self-organized initiative without proper funding, office or manager," according to Mikhail Kotomin, co-owner/publisher of Ad Marginem and one of the alliance's founders. "Even though we sometimes have no definite action plans and some members are not as active as we would like them to be, all Alliance members understand that something has to be done. You can say that the alliance is like the Occupy movement in that it is aimed at finding alternatives for the book industry in Russia through actions."
Meshcheryakov on Cooking and Children's Books: Publishing in Russia 2012
Winner of the inaugural English PEN Literature in Translation award in 2010 for Anna Politkovskaya's Putin's Russia (Harvill Press), Arch Tait has worked with many well-known Russian writers including Ludmila Ulitskaya, Vladimir Makanin, Victor Pelevin, Peter Aleshkovsky, Andrey Volos and Anatoly Kurchatkin. He was the UK editor of Glas New Russian Writing translation series from 1993 to 2000, and still translates for the Moscow-based publishing house.
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Cooking up a storm while chattering about children's books on TV may sound like a strange match. But Vadim Meshcheryakov, who loves to cook, thinks his "A Book Kitchen" idea makes perfect sense. "Cooking takes place in a convivial atmosphere, where friendly chats are most conducive. You can talk about anything—including books—while dishing up some good stuff to eat."
When it comes to publishing Russian translations, no one has done it longer—or more successfully—than Peter Mayer. During his tenure as chairman and CEO of Penguin, from 1978 to 1997, the publishing house launched a series of Russian classics that any budding bookworm should read from cover to cover or purchase for his or her library.
Publishing in Russia 2012: The Debut Prize and Young Russian authors
Launched in 2000, the Debut Prize is an independent literary award for authors under 35 years of age. It is supported by the Pokolenie Foundation, founded in 1996 by politician and philanthropist Andrei Skoch. So far, 73 works have won from the 50,000-plus entries received each year.
Read Russia 2012: Krasnoyarsk Fair: Reading Deep in Siberia
Perm, Russia's 14th most populous city, with around one million people (called Permyaks), is home to the two-year-old Piotrovsky Book Store. Named after the city's first bookseller, Yuseff Yulianovitch Piotrovsky of the 19th century, the store was the brainchild of four friends: a historian (Denis Korneevsky, director of Perm's inaugural book fair last year), a philosopher (Dmitriy Vyatkin), a philologist (Mikhail Maltsev), and a poet (Sergey Panin).
Publishing in Russia 2012: Vladimir Grigoriev on the Russian Book Market
When the first Krasnoyarsk Book Culture Fair was held in 2007, there were no overseas attendees in sight. In fact, there were only 63 local exhibitors, including 45 publishing houses. Still, 10,000 visitors attended the midwinter event, for which exhibitors trucked in nearly 10 metric tons of books.
Publishing in Russia 2012: The Rights Side of Business
Twelve years ago, Vladimir Grigoriev left Vagrius (the publishing house he founded in 1992) to join the Russian Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communication, or FAPMC. Much has changed in the country's book market since then. PW catches up with the dynamic deputy director and indefatigable champion of the Russian publishing industry for some insights and news.
Publishing in Russia 2012: The Agents’ Dozen
The rights industry in Russia has grown much more professional in the past five years, according to Julia Goumen of Banke, Goumen & Smirnova Literary Agency. "The interaction between publishers and agencies, as well as scouts, has improved tremendously as our publishing industry becomes better connected to the international book community. Previously, it could take up to a year for new trends, big titles, or major events to reach Russia. These days, Russian publishers are often among the first to acquire rights to major works of fiction."
Publishing In Russia 2012: Independent Children’s Book Publishers in Russia
No one knows Russian authors better than literary agencies. After all, they have been poring over these homegrown talents' works, promoting them, and negotiating and signing deals for them. So "PW" asks four agencies—Banke, Goumen & Smirnova; Elkost; FTM; and Galina Dursthoff (covered in "Publishing in Russia 2012: The Rights Side of Business")—to recommend 12 contemporary authors that might represent the new Russian voice.
Publishing in Russia 2012: Charting the Bestsellers
Children's book publishers in Russia come in different sizes and specializations. Rosman Group, publisher of Rowling, Pullman, Paolini, Funke, and Stine, is the biggest, ranked #7 in the Russian publishing industry. Meanwhile, small indie publishers, spurred by market demand for new authors, unusual topics and unique translations, have sprung up and are growing fast.
Gauging reader preferences and taking the pulse of the market is on every book industry player's must-do list. And this task of deciding what will work and what won't often involves analyzing bestseller lists.
PW'S Publishing in Russia Report 2012Publishing In Russia 2012: Publishers in a Changing Industry
Publishing In Russia 2012: Here Comes Pubmix.com
Despite the economic gloom, the number of titles produced annually in Russia continues to grow. The country is now #3 in terms of book production (approximately 125,000 new titles per year), after the U.S. and China. It also saw more than 20 million e-book downloads and some one million reading devices sold in 2011.
Publishing in Russia 2012: Shifting Retail Landscape
With Russia's online book market growing about 30% annually, more households having Internet access, and consumers becoming increasingly comfortable purchasing and paying online, it is logical to see print on-demand coming into play.
Back in 1990, there were nearly 8,500 bookshops in Russia. By 2009, however, the number had plunged to no more than 2,500, according to the Russian Book Union. Even Top Kniga, Russia’s largest book chain, had shrunk from 700 to 450 stores, and is now teetering on the brink of bankruptcy yet again.
Publishing In Russia 2012: Growing the Digital Side of the Business
Amazon.com is the model that most online bookstore entrepreneurs want to adopt (and, hopefully, replicate its success as well). But tweaking it to fit the Russian book industry—that is easier said than done.