On Sunday, book organizations of the Baltic states, representing book authors, publishers, and other professionals, from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, issued an open letter to the Bologna, London and Frankfurt book fairs to show support for Ukraine by severing contacts with institutions of the Russian Federation. The letter was signed by the Lithuanian Culture Institute, the Latvian Literature/the International Writers and Translators House, the Estonian Literature Centre, the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian sections of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), and the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre.
Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, issued a statement today, saying: “The organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair strongly condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine ordered by President Putin. Against the backdrop of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, a violation of international law, the Frankfurt Book Fair is suspending cooperation with the Russian state institutions in charge of organizing the Russian collective stand at Frankfurter Buchmesse. The Frankfurt Book Fair assures the Ukrainian publishers’ associations of its full support.”
For its part, the Bologna Children's Book Fair posted on the Publishers Without Borders Facebook page: "BCBF, Bolognabookplus and BLTF are following current events in Ukraine very closely and extend sympathy and support to everyone affected in our industry. As always, our mission is to build bridges between cultures and people, within peaceful and harmonious conditions. Along with all those in the global book industry, our thoughts are with the publishers, writers, and all those who work with books, in Ukraine, and also our book industry colleagues in Russia, who find themselves in a difficult and painful position today."
International Publishers Association Responds
Today, José Borghino, secretary general of the International Publishers Association, published a letter responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and request from the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association's request for support.
Borghino wrote, "We condemn this criminal Russian invasion in the strongest possible terms. The IPA was founded with the intention of supporting peace. Our first President, Georges Masson, stated at our inaugural Congress in 1896 that ‘the first International Publishers Congress … is one of many gatherings whose purpose is to multiply peaceful relations between nations, in encouraging the visible tendency of peoples to join more and more through a community of interests.’ Nothing in the intervening 125 years has changed that stance."
Bodour Al Qasimi, current IPA president, added, ‘The IPA stands in solidarity with publishers in peril all around the world and, especially at this moment, with our member in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association. We are following developments and discussing how IPA can be of most assistance to our member. In times of peace, books have a powerful uniting force. In times of conflict, books are even more important in fostering hope, supporting reconciliation, and cementing peace.’
Initiatives to help
With many Ukrainian publishers unable to communicate, TAULT - The Tompkins Agency for Ukrainian Literature in Translation - is currently collecting English-language catalogs of Ukrainian presses to post on its website. If you have access to a computer, please email catalogs to firstname.lastname@example.org
And in solidarity with Ukraine, there is a social media movement asking publishers worldwide to post pictures of Ukrainian titles they have translated and published.
Numerous publishers in neighboring countries of Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia are offering to pick up refugees at the border and assist them in finding shelter and support. You can find postings about this at the Publishers Without Borders Facebook page.
The Ukrainian Library Association has also called on libraries in Europe and around the world to combat disinformation. The European Union is considering putting a ban on RT -- Russia Today -- the state-sponsored English-language media service, which is also available on U.S. television networks.