The war in Ukraine has prompted many companies and institutions to stop working with Russian publishers and organizations. Publishers are canceling or not renewing contracts, while organizers have banned Russians from participating in international book fairs and there are a growing number of calls in different countries to ban imports of Russian books.

Today, Evgeny Kapyev, general director of Eksmo, issued an open letter asking the world to reconsider this ban on Russian books and interaction with Russian publishers.

Eksmo is the largest general trade publisher in Russia, publishing some 10,000 titles a year and is responsible for approximately 30% of total book sales annually. Eksmo is currently barred from operating in Ukraine, having been accused of distributing propaganda, a claim Eksmo says is the result of its titles having been pirated in 2014 and its trademark misused.

Here is Kapyev's letter unedited and in full:

Dear partners, colleagues, authors,

I know many of you personally for more than 15 years, and we’ve been together through thick and thin. I have already expressed my attitude to the current unjustifiable situation, and my sympathy goes to the victims.

I know that many of you are facing a hard moral dilemma whether to work with Russian publishers or not, and banning all relations with us seems to be the easiest way out. Yet, I would like to invite you to think of our mission: publishers’ mission, authors’ mission and the mission of literature in general. Is it just a business matter for you or is it above all a strive to make word a leading tool to achieve understanding, to help humanity ideas make it to the top of the world’s agenda? Even if publishing is considered just as a source for profit and nothing else, please keep in mind that the biggest part of taxes paid by publishers are used to support public welfare.

Should you decide that publishing is more than just moneymaking for you than I believe, it is necessary to ask yourself: what do my books bring to this world – “good” or “evil”? If the answer would be “Evil”, than all business with Russian publishers should definitely stop. In case you decide that your books stand for “Good” and yet cease all business with Russia, which means less good books will reach Russian readers, I am afraid the consequences might be bitter and mutual understanding between countries, cultures and nations might decrease even more.

Over the last 30 years the Russian book market has changed drastically. Nowadays a majority of publishing houses are privately owned. We have been creating this market, discovering the best authors, brilliant contemporary titles and introducing The Nobel, The Booker and The Pulitzer prizes winners to the multimillion readership in Russia. We made a lot of contemporary Russian authors heard internationally.

In the last 15 years together we have almost eliminated piracy – hardly this exists in print and no more than 3% of all e-books are pirated now – despite quite the contrary, awful situation we had seen in the past.

To our regret, we have to admit that only 50% of Russian population does read books, while the rest prefer internet and social networks and we put enormous efforts to move the second half to books.

We have helped our readers to develop a refined book taste, and they are now paying great attention to the quality of translations and topics raised, including diversity, ecology and sustainable growth, which are very popular topics among the Russian young adults now.

Let’s together think how we can help make our world a better place. It depends on all of us today what our tomorrow will look like: will we be building walls or bridges?