Ukrainian publishers are turning to Polish and Lithuanian partners to print and distribute books for the more than three million Ukrainian refugees that have fled the war in their country. Ranok, Urbino, and VSL, among the most prominent Ukrainian houses, and have already begun printing in Poland, while the Ukrainian Book institute is working with smaller Ukrainian houses to collect print ready files to send to printers abroad. The Institute has already acquired files for some 15 titles, including several new books. “We decided to start with the booklets for the youngest children. Those booklets have 22-48 pages, are easy to print, and will focus on stories – like fairy tales – that will be suitable to comfort children,” said Yurri Marchenko, reading specialist at the Ukrainian Book Institute. The goal is to print at least 500 to 1,000 copies of each title.
Numerous challenges remain before books will be able to be distributed, the least of which is a lack of money, paper and free time at printing presses. Still, Marchenko remains optimistic. “We keep writing letters to the publishing houses, we address our Polish friends and colleagues, and the snowball grows,” said Marchenko. I have just received a letter from Andrzej Zabrowarny, the director of the Pracownia Wydawncza [a Polish publishing company with a strong history of publishing Ukrainian translation]. They agreed to start working with two books, and by March 25 we will have 500 copies of each.” In addition, Flintas, a children’s publishing house in Lithuania, has agreed to start printing and distributing books as well.
Over the next few weeks the Institute is working to find volunteers to help distribute the new books at train stations and refugee centers. In addition, they are looking for more publishing partners in different European countries to help with printing books, ideally at their own expense, in support of the Ukrainian refugees.
“These are all near term goals,” said Marchenko. “The next stage will be to figure out how to provide schools and libraries in those countries that are housing Ukrainian refugees with books, when the need arises.”
The organizers say they will be taking meetings at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair with those who are interested in helping. You can also reach Marchenko directly at firstname.lastname@example.org., or reach out to the Institute’s coordinators in Poland, Natalia Sawicki at email@example.com and Andrew Zabrowarnie at pracownia@akant.Home.pl.
Free Digital Distribution
StreetLib, the Milan-based e-book and audiobook production and distribution company, has offered to provide free services to Ukrainian publishers and writers for five years. In an open letter, Carlo Carrenho, director of international development at StreetLib, said that the need for Ukrainian books was urgent and it was time for the global publishing community to do its part to help. He invited other partners to collaborate with StreetLib and to volunteer their services as well.
StreetLib's open letter reads as follows:
Dear Ukrainian publishers and independent writers,
My name is Carlo Carrenho and I am the head of international business development at StreetLib. StreetLib is an Italian digital content aggregator with a catalogue of more than 400,00 titles among e-books, audiobooks and POD titles. We have over 1,500 publishers on board and we distribute to more than 70 digital retailers. Our content is multilingual and we try to work on a global scale.
As part of my job, I recently traveled to Warsaw, Poland, where I could witness how the war is affecting the Ukrainian people. The StreetLib team was really touched after I share what I saw and we decided to do something to help. The obvious idea was to offer free distribution to Ukrainian publishers and independent writers. So we created the Ukrainian Ebook Project, where we offer our distribution services for free and also our StreetLib Write tool free of charge for a period of at least five years.
At this moment, we are starting with eBooks in ePub format, because this was easier and faster to set up. But we are open to talk about other formats as well. It is important to say that the contract is non-binding and non-exclusive. Our goal here is simply to help. We are also encouraging other companies to do the same, and I would be happy more players engaged.
I have heard of many publishers distributing their content for free to the readers, and this is also a possibility. We are event talking about this idea with a global retailer. However, it is up to you if and how much you want to charge for your content.
If you are interested in this, please simple feel out this form below:
Alternatively, you can contact me directly through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or Whatsapp/Viper at +46 72 546 0924. I will be personally engaged in this project.
We stand together with Ukraine.