Ukrainian book market grows fast but unsystematically – editors, writers

Ahead of the 24th Lviv Publishers’ Forum representatives of the Ukrainian book market speak about realities and perspectives of the Ukrainian publishing business at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

According to Kateryna Babkina, poet and writer, Ukrainian book market has been growing fast in the past five years. “Just a few years ago I was the one to say that we had no book market as an organized system of institutions. Now we do have it,” she said. “It is partially because less Russian books are coming to Ukraine. […] Now Ukrainian publishers can save some money and use it to buy the rights,” added Ivan Malkovych, poet and founder of the publishing house A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA. He noted that the number of new publishing houses in Ukraine is increasing. “These publishers are young, the way in which they present books is appealing, they are beautifully designed. The Ukrainian book fair is similar to the European or international ones,” Malkovych said. However Ukrainian market still has room for improvement. “Our country is big and our market is small. It is quite a sad disproportion,” emphasized Oksana Forostyna, director of Yakaboo Publishing.

According to Oleksandr Afonin, president of the Ukrainian Association of Publishers and Book Distributors, the number of translated literature has increased by 80 per cent in comparison to 2015. “They have been publishedmostly thanks to the translation grants provided by the institutions of the countries from which the rights are bought,” Kateryna Babkina said. Translations of Ukrainian literature start appearing. Babkina said that the Ukrainian-Canadian Foundation established a grant to translate Ukrainian books into Hebrew. The grant will be provided regularly. “It comes as Ukraine’s official support to Israeli translators and publishers,” Babkina said. Maria Shubchyk, project coordinator at the department “Information and Library” at the Goethe-Institut Ukraine added that there is a trend of experience exchange between international and local institutions that support publishers. “We can justly say that we have things to teach,” she added.

Oleksandr Afonin also said that the increase of money circulation in Ukraine in comparison to 2015 has not been considerable – $110-120 million. “No capital assets are present in the sector, publishing houses exist due to current assets,” he said. Fiction and books for children keep being the most demanded with Ukrainians. At the same time the market sees a new niche growing – non-fiction literature.

However, this development is not systematic. There is no nationwide development strategy in the publishing sector. “Today Ukraine has no publishing policy […] that would include credit and investment policy, and would treat book publishing as a tool for personal development seen from the state level,” Afonin emphasized. He added that in order to popularize books in Ukraine all stakeholders related to humanitarian policy including ministries and especially the newly established Book Institute need to take action.

The 24th Lviv Publishers’ Forum will take place on September 13-17. The detailed program is available on the website