Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books bookstore chain in Miami, has launched HUBB — Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers — to support the literary community in the war torn nation. Kaplan has also recruited several literary friends to assist in the effort, including translator and novelist Askold Melnyczuk from the University of Massachusetts, Boston; novelist Jane Unrue of Harvard’s Scholars and Artists at Risk Program; poet and memoirist Christopher Merrill, director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program; and poet and memoirist Carolyn Forche. The fundraiser aims to assist some of the 3,000 industry professionals—publishers, booksellers, authors, printers, distributors—who saw sales plummet, their business disrupted and employees forced to flee after the Russian invasion.

"When I heard just how devastating this war has been to it’s very rich literary community and then spoke directly to a writer and a bookseller/publisher on my podcast--me in Miami--they in Ukraine, I felt like supporting them was an undeniable undertaking that needed to happen," Kaplan said. "In consultation with Askold, we hatched this effort, now joined by Chris, Jane, Carolyn and others who have come through with financial support. We’re just beginning, but I feel a groundswell beginning and I know we can make a difference in so many brave souls‘ lives as they try to keep books and literature alive until the ravages of war are reversed."

Melnyczuk explained the origins of the project. "Last April I invited my friend, the poet Marjana Savka, publisher of Old Lion Books in Lviv, to join me on Mitchell’s podcast," he said. "Marjana also runs a string of eight bookstores around the country. After Marjana’s appearance on the podcast, we were contacted by Oleksandr Afonin, president of the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association, who was able to describe the situation of those who work in various aspects of Ukrainian book culture."

HUBB is working with the Coral Gables Foundation in Florida to transfer the first grant of $10,000 to the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association. "Our priorities are first to offer aid to individuals in the book industry who find themselves in financial need—because all available funds are being diverted to support the war effort, the state is able to provide only nominal unemployment subsidies, sometimes as low as $65/month—targeted support to bookstores and publishing enterprises damaged during the war; and to help restock the shelves of libraries damaged of destroyed during the war," Melnyczuk said.

HUBB has received support from several bookstore and booksellers. These include Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass.; Bookends and Beginnings in Evanston, Ill.; and the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge, Mass.