publishing

How Ukrainian publishers work during the war 

12.08.2022

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How have publishers adapted to the conditions of the war and how difficult is it to publish books today? Who was forced to leave the warehouses with millions of publications, and who evacuated them from the shelling? Employees of which publishing houses became volunteers, and who joined the Armed Forces and volunteer battalions?

And finally, what percentage of businesses suffered from Russian troops, whether sales declined during the war, and what do publishers offer? All these questions will be covered in the research by Chytomo.

Who took part in the study?

An online survey of book market players was held from March 26 to April 8, 2022. 81 publishers from all over Ukraine, both small to large, have participated in it. However, we understand that not all publishers were able to answer the questions due to various circumstances.

How do publishing houses in Ukraine work during the war?

According to the survey, 39% of publishers did not close during the war, 51.2% changed their performance model (i.e. work part-time, online or offline), but 9.8% were unable to continue their activities.

“The team of Creative Women Publishing is back on track with all their projects. Despite the fact that the publishing house’s employees are geographically dispersed (some stay in Ukraine and others are abroad), everyone keeps in touch,” reported Creative Women Publishing.

 

Such publishers as Bilka, Bookraine Publishing House, Kalamar, Knygolav, Nash Format, Bukrek, Compas, Anetta Antonenko Publishing House, Yakaboo Publishing, Staryi Lev Publishing House , Choven, Rodovid, Abuk carry out their activities to the full.

 

Those publishers that have partially resumed their activity, as well as those who made no pause, say that they prepare e-books, and most employees work remotely.

 

“The editorial office members work from different parts of Ukraine as well as from abroad. There are no problems with this, because we managed to practice the online format during the lockdown. The vast majority of our freelancers also continue to work at translations to perform literary and scientific editing. We have made adjustments to thematic planning and are actively working with those books that will be useful and interesting  during the war and in the postwar period. And, of course, we are completing projects that were being prepared for the Book Arsenal and are in the final stages. Among the new vectors of work is the preparation of foreign catalogs, participation in the Literature for Export programs and taking up the UPBA initiatives in selling the rights.  We also plan to prepare e-versions of our recent books,” Nash Format publishing house told Chytomo.

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Many publishers keep working with projects they took on before a full-scale invasion, organizing performances, meetings, purchase or sale of book rights.

 

“We are looking for ways to financially support Meridian Czernowitz’s authors. Namely, we organize our authors’ reading in front of the German-speaking audiences (mostly online). In particular, we already have an agreement with the Vienna University of Applied Arts for a series of public talks and literary events with our authors,” comments for Chytomo Yevheniia Lopata, a representative of Meridian Czernowitz publishing house. 

 

Physical bookstores in Ukrainian cities, mostly in western ones, are also resuming operations. Staryi Lev Publishing House Bookstores and Cafes operate in Lviv, but do not operate in Kyiv, Odesa and Dnipro. Physical bookstores of the KSD Bookclub are also open. 

 

Among the publishers who keep working only partly, most prepare books for publication and establish international activities.

 

“Our team came to an agreement with a Polish printing house to publish our books for Ukrainian refugees. They are distributed free of charge to children who are currently in Poland. The same will soon be done in the Czech Republic,” the Ranok publishing house says.

 

Meanwhile some publishers note that shellings made is almost impossible to sell anything.  That is true for Blym-Blym, KLIO, ЇZHAK.

 

Such publishers as Smoloskyp, Mamino, Oleksandr Savchuk, DIPA, Abrykos, BOOKSHA, Osnova Publishing Group and 4mamas Publishing House have now ceased operations.

Who moved and who managed to stay?

54.9% of publishing houses did not change their location in Ukraine. 35,4% of publishing houses partially moved to other cities, – 7.3% fully moved to other cities, and only 2.4% of publishers operate abroad

“We are in a relatively safe city — Chernivtsi, so we have not stopped working and keep doing it to the full,” they say in the Publishing House XXI.

 

Thus, Yakaboo transported a million Ukrainian books from its warehouse in Kyiv to Western Ukraine. But IST publishing still needs to evacuate books from Kyiv and Kharkiv, as well as IZHAK and ACCA do.

 

As a result of the shelling, the offices and warehouses of some publishing houses were damaged. “Ranok”, “BOOKSHA”, “Tezy”, “Zhorzh”, “ASSA”, “Folio”, “Blym-Blym”, Zhupansky publishing house, “Vikhola”, “Molfar” , “PEGAS”, “Chas Majstriv”, “Parasoli”, the publishing group “Osnova”, the publishing house “4mamas” and others are on the list. They constitute 22% of the publishers who took part in the survey. Most of the damaged premises are in Kharkiv. 78% of respondents say their offices are intact. 

 

Were your premises damaged in the war?

  • 22% of publishing houses’ premises have their offices and warehouses damaged. 
  • 78% of publishing houses have their premises intact. 

 

​​“It is not possible to sell books, as the rented warehouse is currently closed, and there are no employees left in Kyiv,” they report in CLIO publishing house.

 

As for the publishing houses that work from abroad or whose teams work from there, they are: Smaki,  Compas, Smoloskyp, Creative Women Publishing, NK-Bogdan, Komora, Mamino, “Laboratoriia”, Nebo BookLab Publishing, Bookraine Publishing House, Kalamar, Dukh i Litera, Shkola, and others.

What about publishers’ profits, salaries and networking abroad?

  • 95.1% of publishers said that during the month of the war sales fell dramatically. 
  • 3.7% report that sales decreased, but not significantly, and only 1.2% report sale increase 

 

Accordingly, among publishers, 17.1% have the opportunity to pay wages fully during the war,  54.9% manage to pay it partially, and almost a third (28%) do not have the opportunity to pay wages.

 

Regarding foreign relations, 24.6% of publishers have established cooperation with international partners, 51% – plan to do so, 24.4% – do not know how to establish cooperation and to enter the international market.

“Since the first days of the full-scale war, we have been communicating with our foreign authors encouraging them to support Ukraine in their social media. Moreover, Ryan Holiday, the author of the Keep calm. Daily instructions for solving problems, donated about $ 15,000 to Ukraine,” the Nash Format publishing house says.

 

In particular, it should be noted that the publishing house “Chas Majstriv” opened a branch of the publishing house in Krakow, Poland. Rodovid Publishing House is working with international colleagues Toronto press, Getty Publications concerning the rights to translate their publications in 2022-2023.

 

Larysa Denysenko’s book Maya and Her Mothers (Майя та її мами) will be published by the British publishing house Bonnier Books, and the proceeds will be donated to UNICEF to support Ukrainian children suffering from the Russian invasion. The British publishing house Pushkin Press will also publish Markian Kamysh’s book Designland or a Walk in the Zone (Оформляндія або прогулянка в Зону) by Nora-Druk publishing house. Polish publishing house Wydawnictwo KEW will print Daughter (Доця) by Tamara Gorikha Zernia from the publishing house Bilka, and the book by Romany Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv The War That Changed Rondo (Війна, що змінила Рондо) by the Stary Lev Publishing House will be issued by three international publishing houses.

 

Also, the team of Ranok Publishing House, with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science, the Institute of Education Content Modernization and partners from the European Educational Publishing Group, is actively working to make Ukrainian textbooks available free of charge to all students in Europe. Currently, you can download textbooks at no cost or access interactive materials for little money in Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Sweden.

 

“We have signed several agreements with foreign partners for digital content production as well as for the printing of our books abroad. More than 5,000 books were shipped free of charge as charitable assistance to our internally displaced compatriots,” Chytomo was told at XXI Publishing House.

 

In addition, most publishers prepare catalogs of rights or update existing ones for foreign publishers.

The editorial team: who had to leave, and who volunteers on the front line?

According to the publishers, 43.9% of publishing teams remained in Ukraine, some members of 47.6% of teams moved abroad, and teams of 8.5% of publishing houses left altogether.

86.6% of publishers have employees who volunteer and 30.5% have employees in combat positions.

 

“Since the beginning of the war, we have established a headquarters with our authors to coordinate the settlement of temporarily displaced artists in Bukovyna and Zakarpattia. Every day we welcome people from other cities of Ukraine, mostly Kharkiv and Kyiv region. The families of our team members help to transport humanitarian aid from Romania to Chernivtsi, where it is sorted and transferred to Ukraine,” commented for Chytomo Yevheniia Lopata, a representative of Meridian Czernowitz publishing house.  

 

Thus, Nash Format, Stary Lev Publishing House, Bilka, ASSA, TUT, Smaki, NAIRI, Komora, Vikhola, Laboratoriia, Dukh i Litera and others are actively involved in volunteering.

 

“Our Kateryna Kalytko and Artem Chekh are serving in the territorial defense squads of Vinnytsia and Kyiv, and Serhiy Zhadan is engaged in humanitarian volunteering in Kharkiv,” Yevheniia Lopata, the editor of Meridian Czernowitz, said.

 

“The main volunteer activity is carried out by the founder of the publishing house Bohdan Kordoba — together with the team he is engaged in the purchase of equipment and necessary supplies for the Armed Forces. Our artists draw posters about this war, and funds from their sales and related products are transferred to support the Armed Forces,” UA Comix reports.

 

Iryna Bilotserkivska, co-founder of Bilka Publishing House, together with the publishing house’s staff, is actively involved in the 450 volunteer formation. On their site you can leave an application for help if you belong to a battalion, or donate funds that will allow volunteers to buy the necessary things for the military.

 

“Since the first days of the war together with the Rotary Club Kharkiv Nadiya we have been administering a volunteer logistics company in Kharkiv (a warehouse, 20 cars with volunteer drivers, a call center). Every day, about 2,000 people (elderly people, families with low-income, families with children) receive food, hygiene products, and medicine from us,”  explained ASSA to Chytomo.

 

Also, employees of some publishing houses were in danger or suffered losses due to the war:

 

“Unfortunately, we do not have information about many of modern Greek textbooks’ authors who are now in Mariupol. They have not been in touch since March 2, and they are not on the evacuees lists,” Bukrek publishing house said.

 

“One of our artists has barely survived in Irpen, but she managed to escape from the shelling unscathed, and now she is safe,” said Bookraine Publishing House to Chytomo.

 

But we still have losses. Mykola Kravchenko, the founder of the Orientir publishing house, died on March 14 as a result of the shelling. One of the Plomin publishing house’s translators, a historian and a publicist Serhiy Zaikovsky “Deimos” was also killed during a counteroffensive by the Ukrainian army.

 

Ranok Publishing House reports that one of the authors of the book On Rights and Responsibilities: Your Handbook of Citizenship («Про права та обов’язки: твій довідник з громадянства»), Dmitry Yevdokymov, has died. As a result of Russian aggression, the poet and writer Yuri Ruf, whose books were published by the Zalizny Tato publishing house has also perished.

What do publishers offer Ukrainians today?

Publishers continue to issue new items. IST Publishing has published three books during the war:

 

“3 books were published in March: Conversations about Architecture («Розмови про архітектуру») was published in Ukraine, English version of the book Pavlo Makov. Fountain of depletion. High Water («Павло Маков. Фонтан виснаження. Висока вода») for the Ukrainian pavilion at the Venice Biennale was published in the Netherlands, and Ukrainian version of the book was issued in Lithuania,” told IST Publishing Chytomo

 

Also, the publishing house of Anetta Antonenko, Knygolav, and Folio started saling books online for UAH 1.

 

“We opened access to children’s and some adult audiobooks during active hostilities. We received a record number of free content downloads,” the Abuk audio publishing house told Chytomo.

 

Svichado, Nash Format, Staryi Lev Publishing House, Vivat, Rodovid, Astrolabia, Yakaboo Publishing, NK-Bogdan also offer free access to the selected books.

According to publishers, how can the state support the publishing industry today?

Most publishers responded that the state’s actions should focus on presenting Ukrainian culture abroad, as this would help build a positive image of Ukraine and increase trust. We should not forget about investments in book publishing, search and organization of cultural grants, promotion of the sale of Ukrainian authors’ rights, and search for wholesale suppliers.

 

  • Foreign financing

“We need to apply to European institutions: the International Renaissance Foundation, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development with a request to allocate funding to support the field of book publishing in Ukraine. We should look for other foreign funds and associations (and create an appropriate base) who would become potential customers purchasing books from Ukrainian publishers and distributing them among IDPs abroad,” the Kalamar publishing house said.

 

 This view is supported by many publishers. Similar things were stated at the publishing houses Zhorzh, Abuk, Nash Format, Bookraine Publishing House, Zhupansky Publishing House and others.

 

“We can’t lose these spheres and people, because it is vitally important to be a cultural nation. The war has shown that culture and security work the same way as ecology: if you sort and your neighbor burns weed, your ecology is not ok. We need to talk about this so that there is world awareness. We need to actualize the value of history, to get closer to the general public. This time the book publishing will not resurrect on its own, help and investments are needed,” Zhorzh publishing house notes.

 

  • Assistance in purchasing books for Ukrainian immigrants 

One of the forms of foreign activity is the purchase and distribution of books for Ukrainians who are IDPs in other countries:

 

“Purchase of books for temporarily displaced persons and Ukrainians abroad will allow the book publishing industry to somehow stay afloat,” the Bukrek publishing house notes.

 

  • Assistance in establishing cooperation with independent bookstores around the world

Assistance in establishing communication is also important:

 

“We need to establish communication between publishers and independent bookstores and publishers abroad so that they could provise us financial support,” says Nebo BookLab Publishing.

 

  • Introduce tax relief for publishers

There were also proposals to change the legislation: to introduce tax benefits for publishers, as well as to fill Ukrainian legislation’s gaps concerning e-books and audiobooks.

 

“These are tax benefits for Ukrainian publishers selling digital and audiobooks through mobile applications on the AppStore and Google Play Market platforms (the introduction of VAT for these platforms in 2022 hit Ukrainian companies first). The gaps in the Ukrainian legislation concerning electronic and audiobooks, need to be filled. We should settle these concepts on the legislative level and regulate legal relations in the field. We also need to informatively promote the development of the market of electronic and audiobooks,” audio publishing house Abuk comments on the situation .

 

The publishing house of the Ukrainian Catholic University has a similar opinion on the provision of benefits: “Those who continue working and paying salaries should be given tax benefits. Obviously the state’s capabilities are limited due to the significant losses caused by the war, while all businesses need support. The main thing is that the economy works, and people have a salary and purchasing power. It would be good if, with the assistance of international organizations, we could purch​​ase books from the existing stocks of publishing houses to replenish library funds”.

 

  • Resolve e-book issues

It is also important to support e-books and innovations in book publishing, in particular because Ukrainians have access to books in their native language from anywhere in the world:

 

“Enrichment of the publishing portfolio with e-books so that Ukrainians who have moved could read is also an option. We should communicate through bloggers, etc., that the publishing house is still working and encourage people to buy books,” they believe at Nebo BookLab Publishing.

 

 As you can see, many Ukrainian publishers are working on e-books creation:

 

“Now that it’s clear that we need to keep going anyway, we’ve focused on creating e-books. We have been planning on that for a long time, but something kept bothering us, until there were no alternatives left. We have found partners through whom we will be able to distribute e-books abroad, in particular in Poland. Besides, we continue what we started before the war, that is our electronic archives systematization and paper books publishing. There are a few projects that only need to wait for the victory to be issued. So we are waiting,” says Anastasia Gulko, print manager at Laurus.

 

  • Preserve book purchases to libraries

Also they noted in the publishing houses “Nash Format”, “Kalamar”, Zhupansky publishing house that it is necessary to increase the purchase of books for libraries, especially in those regions affected by the full-scale invasion, as well as to promote the printing of children’s books.

 

“To direct funds to cover the costs of translation and printing, to support the program of library funds replenishment, into which school libraries could be also included, especially in those areas where Ukrainians were forced to relocate after a large-scale invasion — these are steps, that need to be taken,” they think in Kalamar publishing house. 

 

  • Continue to boycott russian publishers and writers

Of course, we must continue to boycott russian business and public events, ban the sale of translation licenses to russian publishers, and move together towards our common victory:

 

“Defeat the enemy! Close all all the ways for russian literature.  Stop the activities of all russina publishing houses subsidiaries and booksellers related to russia,” the Komubuk publishing house notes.

 

  • Invest in cultural institutions

Publishers suggest not to forget about the institutions that work on literary projects to preserve the cultural landscape.

 

“It is crucial to preserve the sphere of culture. It is clear that immediately after the end of the war it will be difficult to invest in culture on a large scale, but we have at least to prevent the death of cultural institutions, festivals, publishers, bookstores. This will be a significant contribution,” Meridian Czernowitz believe.