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16.10.2006

How the Ukrainian State has regulated its book market


As the Ukrainian Book Portal www.UABOOKS.info has reminded, "Publishing business is a very profitable business". The only thing that is needed is active development of the industry through the dialogue between its parties. To encourage this the on-line conference on the subject of Whether the State is Capable of Regulating the Book Market in Ukraine was held under the auspices of business web portal www.VlasnaSprava.info and the Information agency "Interfax-Ukraine".

Oleksandr Afonin, the President of the Ukrainian Association of book publishers and distributors, announced that the Ukrainian State can possibly regulate anything. But is it worth it? Maybe an effective cooperation is a better choice?

The most significant ways of the cooperation of the State and publishers must be financing of the industry and administrative organizational activities. Financial aid can be performed not only by budget funding of individual subjects, but with improvement of the credit facility as a whole. Currently publishers and printers are unable to pay high rates on their credits, and book stores dont have anything to put as a security deposit for a credit loan. We need to adopt foreign experience and let the book to be a sufficient credit insurance item, as it is in European countries; thus, let our book publishers earn money on their own initiative de-jure.

Mykola Senchenko, the director of the Book chamber of Ukraine, announced interesting numbers. As the matter of fact, The 1930s turn out to be the most favorable period for Ukrainian book publishing. At that time the statistics were at a level of 3.1 books per capita in Ukraine. Nowadays this index is at about 0.5 books per capita level. Senchenko reminded that many books do not make their way from a publisher to book stores due to absence of developed nationwide distribution system. But there is a solution at least to this problem. "100 thousand books" Ukrainian book project that has started last summer under support of the MATRA Program of the Foreign Office of the Netherlands became a real "lifesaver" in current situation. Participants of this project (Central and Eastern European Book Project, International Renaissance Foundation and Ukrainian Companies DC "Sammit-Knyha" and "Dzherela M") incurred obligations to create 16 regional distribution centers for real high-quality Ukrainian literature during 3 years. Rivne and Zaporizhya became first cities where book centers selling Ukrainian book at publishers' prices has opened. Mykola Senchenko also stressed out the problem of limited editions: more than 37% of all books published during the last year had less than 500 printed copies each.

Ukrainian publishers have problems with statistics, too. Unarguably the reader is a very important part of the book market. Demand for book products and the books sociology must be deeply researched; obviously, it is too expensive to do for a single publisher. Nevertheless, long-term full-scale research of Ukrainian book market has finally started as a part of Ukrainian book project.

Unfortunately, financing of book publishing by the State has no significant results yet. So what is the main goal of the State? Is it just publishing books for the fact itself and for accomplishing cultural and social plans, or is it cultural and aesthetical education of the population and publishing book that society would be willing to buy? Oleksandr Afonin reminded that the book is a tool for morale education of the population; it raises its intellectual level and unites the nation. These are the main purposes of the book, not the State, which tries to regulate, dictate and create "the list of literature to be published and read" when it needs to stimulate and encourage the population to read Ukrainian books.

To figure out the way to do it we need to apply to international experiences. For example, in Iraq separate system of "book cards" is created for school and college students. Using such card a student can buy a book in a bookstore that he or she thinks is going to be useful for them, not the one the State wants them to buy. Oleksandr Afonin called it an "effective allocating investment support of the reader".

There are some other noticeable examples, too. The situation with expansion of our market by a cheap Russian book is very similar to the situation in Canada. Mykola Senchenko reminded, that this country managed to overcome the book crisis by introducing "The book publishing industry development Program" in 1972, despite the "aggressive" competitor in this field of industry, the USA, just across the border. Main points of that program were: financial aid to distributors of national book products and to businessmen advertising and marketing Canadian books, and financing and promoting Canadian books and authors on the world market.

Ihor Stepurin, the president of the "Summit-Book" distribution company, remains rather optimistic regarding relations with the Russian book market. By the way, this company is one of the suppliers for Ukrainian libraries for the last five years. He states, that five years ago libraries were requesting about 80% Russian-published books, and only 20% Ukrainian ones; nowadays, 60%of the ordered literature is Ukrainian, and only 40% is imported from the neighboring countries. Ihor Stepurin thinks that a direct way for the State to help the industry is to create large distribution warehouses. Additional actions can be taken by the Department of Education. According to current standards, two things are taken into consideration while checking and confirming the accreditation level of higher education institutions: the material and technical base and the library base.

At the end of the conference Oleksandr Afonin reminded that the book industry is an attractive and profitable business where spiritual and economical parts are indivisible. The hope for development of the competitive Ukrainian book market is gradually becoming reality. The last major event is creation of the web portal UABooks.info which is believed to become a full-scale professional on-line resource for the readers, publishers and distributors.

The material is prepared by Zhenya Shydlovska.

The topic is Urgent! Important! Well-Timed! To continue the topic an interview with Vitaliy Lukyanenko, Legal advisor of the First vice Prime-minister of Ukraine, the Minister of Finance of Ukraine, is planned in the nearest future.

You can view the full report on the conference on www.UABooks.info and www.VlasnaSprava.info websites: http://uabooks.info/ua/news/tribune/?pid=1314 (in Ukrainian only).

Ukrainian Book Portal
Business Technology Development Centre

Tel. 380-44-492-1588
Email: info@UABooks.info
Web: www.UABooks.info


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  Expert's Column  
The president of the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association, the head chairman of the expert committee of Ukrainian National Council of culture and spirituality at the Presidents Office

Oleksandr Afonin

Highly respected Viktor Andriyovich! Ukrainian Association of book publishers and distributors addresses you with a question that needs your immediate personal intervention, because, as the experience shows, this problem can totally overcome your Decree About some measures for development of book publishing business in Ukraine (March 21, 2006) and lead to a serious crisis in one of the branches of publishing business book trade, which is in very critical condition already.




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