December 2010, No. 28
Editors: Vera Ebels, Christina Zorich
Infocarte at Gaudeamus
During its launch by the Romanian Cultural Institute in March this year, Infocarte.ro, the Romanian Books in Print online catalogue, supported by the Austrian Erste Stiftung, was offered a free stand at Gaudeamus, the annual book fair organized by Radio Romania in November in Bucharest.
The 17th edition of the Gaudeamus International Book Fair, held from the 18th until the 22nd of November, was visited by more than 103.000 people. Gaudeamus, like its rival Bookfest held each June in Bucharest, and its peers in other Central and East European cities, is in fact a huge book market for the public. The fairs offer publishers a chance to sell both new titles and backlists. This year, books were sold at discounts higher than ever, reflecting the situation on the Romanian book market. Many people postpone buying books until the book fair. The situation is even worse now in the current crisis, which is rather bad in Romania. In its five-day run, Gaudeamus reported sales of about 1 million books worth 4,7 million Euros. According to expert estimates, Romanian publishers make a considerable part of their annual turnover during book fairs. This year, for the first time, major booksellers had stands at the book fair.
Gaudeamus took place, as usual, at the spacious Romexpo Central Rotonda, with 14.000 square meters available for the 380 exhibitors. Publishers staged more than 500 book launches. At the entrance, visitors could seek information about the publishers’ stands from the “Info Gaudeamus” team, who also handed out the Gaudeamus newspaper, printed in 10.000 copies daily.
Right next to the Info Gaudeamus stand, the Infocarte Catalogue of Romanian Books in Print had its own stand at the top of the stairs leading to the centre of the fair ground. Hundreds of visitors came to consult the Infocarte team, which showed them on the Infocarte.ro website the titles they were seeking and referred them to the publisher or to the Gaudeamus stand. And vice versa, the Gaudeamus staff referred visitors to Infocarte. Such information was never before available at a Romanian book fairs. As the Gaudeamus newspaper noted in its editorial on the last day of the book fair, “The Infocarte stand proved to be a powerful instrument for visitors”, who wanted to know which publisher issued the titles they were looking for or where they could find books on certain topics or by certain authors. The infocarte.ro website also offers images of the covers, making it even easier for the public to locate books. Thus, Infocarte is doing a great service to publishers, authors, and the public alike, which, after all, is its aim.
By Florentina Hojbota, Infocarte, Deputy Editor-in-Chief
photos by Alexandru Vinţ
On the 23rd of April 2010, the dream came true for booklovers all over Slovenia. The Mayor of Ljubljana hoisted the flag bearing the proud title “Ljubljana – World Book Capital 2010”. The year brought noteworthy initiatives based on ideas from authors, publishers, booksellers, translators, librarians, critics, and policy makers dealing with books in Slovenia.
Books for everybody is a project aimed at changing Slovenian book-buying habits. For a decade now, the Slovenian book market has grown to 6.000 titles published per year (half of them on sale), with a problematic ratio between the number of books borrowed from libraries and the number of books bought per capita: in 2009, 15 books borrowed against 2 to3 bought! With a population of two million, publishers and, even more, booksellers are in constant financial straits.
The aim of the Books for Eeverybody is to persuade the public to buy books rather than borrow them and thus emphasize their ownership of the book. Twenty-one book titles of some of the best national and foreign authors for various age groups were chosen in a public tender. With strong financial support from the municipality, the books were printed in 8.000 copies; they are sold not only in bookshops, but also in libraries and museums, at retail price everywhere exactly € 3.
At the country’s biggest literary festival, Fabula, authors such as Herta Müller, Jonathan Franzen, Slavoj Žižek, and Boris Pahor addressed large audiences for the first time. The events put the books and their writers on the front pages of all newspapers and magazines.
Slovenia has developed a rich paperback market in the last several years, with prices around € 10 a copy as compared to the average price of € 24 for a book (traditionally, books are hardcover in Slovenia). The principles of the fixed price sales are being applied to the project, and booksellers, who were reluctant at first, have joined in.
However, booksellers complain that customers do not understand that the low price is a gift from the City of Ljubljana and think that the retail prices of other books, printed only in the usual run of 700 copies and thus far more expensive, are a fraud. This is a problem that can have far-reaching negative effects.
Another issue is the new situation facing librarians who, after all, are not trained to sell books. Thus, Books for Everybody is fraught with contradictions. But the hope is that at least all the books will have been sold within a year.
Via a public tender, the Municipality of Ljubljana launched the biweekly publication as a cultural supplement to a daily newspaper. There has been a need for such a publication for many years. In April, the first issue of Pogledi (in English Insights), linked to the leading Slovenian daily Delo, appeared. Indeed, Pogledi has already found its place and developed a loyal readership.
Within the LWBC programme, but also for the last three consecutive years, the project Ljubljana Reads annually provides each three-old year child in Ljubljana with the free gift of a publicly chosen picture book, as well as another picture book for each first year pupil in all the city’s elementary schools. This year an additional book will be given to teenagers by the Slovenian Book Agency. The gift is meant to stimulate children to love and read books. In addition, Beaver Bor, the mascot of Ljubljana’s reading children, regularly invites them to the Variety theatre shows and to story-telling meetings around Ljubljana. And a new specialized bookshop for children’s literature, run by and named after the publisher Kres, has opened in premises adjacent to the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre.
Ljubljana has a new House of Literature, named after Primož Trubar, the first author known to have written in Slovenian. It provides space for literary events, festivals, readings, book launches, and workshops, and it hosts a book club. Events are frequent and well promoted on their portal. Within months it has become obvious that Ljubljana needed a space to connect with authors and their books and to initiate fresh discussions about literature, cultural topics, and books in general.
The year will culminate with the biggest book industry and book policy meeting in 2011: the World Book Summit in Ljubljana on 31 March and 1st April. Experts from all fields in the Slovenian book trade have decided to discuss two themes: Book Globalisation and Reading in the Digital Era, and Publishing Books in Smaller Language Markets and Translating Books from Minor National Languages into World Languages (see www.wbs2011.si for more information). Those interested can apply for the early bird registration by the end of January to come to the City of Ljubljana – World Book Capital 2010.
By Tanja Tuma
Since 2003, liberal arts students at the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University in Prague have had the opportunity to enrol in Vladimir Pistorius‘s seminar „Publishing Practice“. Dr Pistorius has decades of experience in editing and publishing, not least as a publisher of dissident samizdat works in the 1970‘s and 1980‘s under an imprint called “Krameriova expedice”, renowned for the high quality of its titles but also for their graphic design and lay-out (among the 130 titles are books by Havel, Singer, Orwell, Mandelstam, Tsvetayeva, Milosz, or Herbert). After the demise of communism, he worked as the director of a large publishing house and later led a small quality literary press. A few years ago, he established his own publishing house.
The seminar, which devotes one semester to theory and the other to practise, is accompanied by a guide appropriately titled How To Make a Book written by Pistorius, and by a series called Scholares, consisting of books published by his students in the course of the seminar.
The aim of the seminar is to prepare students for professional work in publishing houses. It is attended each year by six to twelve students, who work together in groups of two to three. Each group takes care of the complete publishing process of a book, with an annual production of 3 to 4 books. Pistorius and his colleague select the manuscripts and supervise the editions for the Scholares series. The students are required to acquaint themselves thoroughly with the manuscript, to edit it, do the financial calculations, secure ISBN, take care of copyrights, the pre-press process, work with the printer, proof-read, prepare and organize the promotion, and the authors’ copies. Not surprisingly, quite a number of students found jobs at various publishing houses.
Until 2009, the covers and typography of books published in the Scholares imprint were designed by students at graphics academies; in 2010 the typography was taken over by professional graphic designers. The books are produced with a minimal budget.
The Scholares books are published by a professional publishing house which provides all the necessary services: finance, supervision of the production process, invoicing, storage, promotion, distribution, and sales. Any revenues go into the Scholares fund for the next year.
The editors of the series strive to select new titles from the field of literature and literary studies, titles that have never before been published in Czech, including translations such as a collection of Mark Twain’s stories. Other noteworthy titles include the first publication of a samizdat almanach from 1956, Life is Everywhere (reminding one of Kundera’s Life is Elsewhere), with works by the young Josef Škvorecký, Jiří Kolář, and Václav Havel, or Baroque Theatre in Europe by the dissident literary scholar Václav Černý.
So far, 26 books have been published in the Scholares series, and a translation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Benefits of Alcoholism is due to come out in January 2011. The stories of Twain and Bulgakov have been translated – for the first time into Czech – by students during a translation seminar.
By Vera Ebels
In November 2010, CEEBP awarded ten grants, out of which nine for books, and one for a Belarussian monthly. Seven of the grants for books were awarded for West – East translations, one for an East – East translation, and one for an original work. Four of the grants for books are titles in the humanities, four in belles lettres, and one is an autobiography.
- Nora Berend, At the Gate of Christendom: Jews, Muslims and ‘Pagans’ in Medieval Hungary, c.1000 – c.1300, English – Hungarian translation by Beatrix F. Romhányi, Argumentum, Budapest
- Joseph Brodsky, Essays, English & Russian – Bulgarian translation by Milena Lilova, Fakel, Sofia
- David Grossman, Isha Borachat Me’besurah (To the End of the Land), Hebrew – Serbian translation by David Albahari, Arhipelag, Beograd
- Miljenko Jergović, Inšallah Madona, inšallah, Croatian – Belarusian translation by Siarhej Šupa, Kolas, Minsk
- Wolfgang Leonhard, Die Revolution entläßt ihre Kinder, German – Polish translation by Ewa Czerwiakowski, Karta, Warszawa
- Leonid Marakov, Minsk, Sovietskaya Street (original publication), Smalltalk, Minsk
- Stefano Petrungaro, Pietre e fucili. La protesta sociale nelle campagne croate di fine Ottocento, Italian – Croatian translation by Jasna Rešić, Srednja Europa, Zagreb
- Marcel Proust, Contre Sainte-Beuve, suivi de Nouveaux Mélanges, French-Bulgarian translation by Yulian Zhiliev, Ergo, Sofia
- John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, English – Romanian translation by Horia Tarnoveanu, A.I.Cuza University Press, Iaşi
- Arche – political and cultural monthly, Minsk.
Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind, translated from English into Serbian by Adriana Zaharijević and Aleksandra Bajazetov: Život duha, Alexandria Press, Center for Gender Studies & Službeni glasnik, Beograd 2010
Judith Butler, Gender Trouble, translated from English into Serbian by Adriana Zaharijević: Nevolja s rodom. Feminizam i subverzija identiteta, Karpos, Loznica 2010
Bora Ćosić, Put na Aljasku (Road to Alaska), translated from Serbian into Bulgarian by Paola Ivanova: P’tyat k’m Alyaska, Paradox, Sofia 2010
John Felstiner, Paul Celan. Poet, Survivor, Jew, translated from English into Polish by Maciej Tomal and Małgorzata Tomal: Paul Celan. Poeta, ocalony, Żyd, Austeria, Kraków 2010
Miljenko Jergović, Freelander, translated from Bosnian into Polish by Magdalena Petryńska: Freelander, Pogranicze / Borderland, Sejny 2010
Monika Maron, Stille Zeile Sechs, translated from German into Belarusian by Vasil Siomucha: Vulica chihaja, shesc, Kovcheg, Minsk 2010
Andrea Pető, Rajk Júlia (Feminizmus és történelem), translated from Hungarian into Bulgarian by Radosveta Delcheva and Petr Petrov: Julia Rajk, Altera – Delta, Sofia 2010
Nadège Ragaru, Le temps feuilleté des changements. Essais sur la Bulgarie post-socialiste, translated from French into Bulgarian by Stilyan Deyanov: Prepletenite vremena na nastoiasheto. Bulgaria 20 godini sled 89-ta, Critique & Humanism, Sofia 2010
Ian G. Simmons, Global Environmental History: 10,000 BC to AD 2000, translated from English into Croatian by Damjan Lalović: Globalna povijest okoliša. Od 10 000. pr. Kr. do 2000. n. Kr., Disput, Zagreb 2010
Georges Vigarello, Histoire du viol du XVIe au XXe siècle, translated from French into Polish by Anna Leyk: Historia gwałtu od XVI do XX wieku, Wydawnictwo Aletheia, Warszawa 2010
Max Weber, Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus. Die protestantischen Sekten und der Geist des Kapitalismus, translated from German into Polish by Piotr Mizinski and Bogdan Baran: Etyka protestantcka a duch kapitalizm. Protestanckie “sekten” a duch kapitalizmu, Aletheia, Warszawa 2010
- Allianz Cultural Foundation, Munich
- ERSTE Stiftung, Vienna
- Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, The Netherlands
- Matra program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands