Russia will be the market focus and guest of honor at the 2011 London Book Fair. The decision was based on Russian publishing’s rapid growth in the past two decades and on the success of the Russian Pavilion and Russian Literature Week, which were held in conjunction with LBF 2009. According to a report from Russia’s Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications (a Russian governmental agency responsible for developing the media, publishing and printing industry in Russia), there are more than 5,700 publishers in Russia, producing around 123,000 new and revised titles each year.

The idea behind LBF’s market focus initiative is to provide British and international publishers the opportunity to network with their foreign counterparts. The 2011 fair will recognize Russian authors who have established themselves internationally, such as Vladimir Makanin, Ludmila Ulitskaya and Dmitry Bykov. Tying in to the market focus, the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications and the Russkiy Mir Fund are launching a program of grants to British publishers for translation of Russian literature into English. Fair organizers will run a series of events and industry debates in the runup to the fair, with the support of the British Council, Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications and Academia Rossica.

Alistair Burtenshaw, group exhibition director for LBF, said, “Market focus influence is growing significantly year-on-year, and this is an exciting opportunity to maximize links with a country that has an immensely strong literary history, but has also transformed itself over the past two decades into a thriving consumer-driven market.” Vladimir Grigoriev, deputy head of the Agency for Press and Mass Communications, said he hopes Russia’s presence at LBF “will be instrumental in developing cooperation between our two countries in the field of literature and publishing.”

The 2009 market focus was India; in 2010 it will be South Africa.