Russia's crimes

The constant shelling of Kharkiv leads to major backlog for Ukrainian books-in-print


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Kharkiv publishing houses have been negatively affected by the attacks on the city. Attacks have damaged the power supply causing significant printing delays. This has led to increased printing costs and a rise in retail book prices. Here’s what Kharkiv publishing houses representatives told Chytomo.


Victor Kruglov, Director of Ranok Publishing House stated that production facilities in Kharkiv had no power for almost a week. “Well, printing houses could try to work at night when the power is off, but the curfew imposes restrictions which means delays in printing will be proportional to the power outage. I know printing houses are negotiating to purchase powerful generators, but this will have a corresponding impact on the price of printing services. A 500-kW generator consumes 90 liters of fuel per hour, which is UAH 3 million of additional costs per month for a one-shift operation,” he added.


Ranok publishing house hasn’t changed itspublishing plans so far, but if the attacks continue, they will be forced to reduce the quantity of titles and increase the planned retail prices.


The work of printing houses carries on. Some of them have purchased powerful generators in advance, but none can cover all the necessary electricity consumption.



“Some processes (preparing files for printing) are online. Without electricity in urban areas, the pace of many processes is slowed,” says Victor Kruglov.



According to him, Kharkiv printers and publishers will be able to return to normal operation only after the end of the Russian-Ukrainian war.


“Our publishing house works with 14 printing houses located in Kharkiv and Kyiv for the most part. Currently there are no facilities in the West of Ukraine that could technologically and quantitatively cover the needs of Ukrainian publishers. It is very difficult to transport equipment, it is expensive. It is even more difficult to find qualified personnel. No matter what, I think that Kharkiv will remain the center of the Ukrainian printing industry,” says Victor Kruglov. He added that protecting the airspace over the city is crucial.


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Nargis Gafurova, Krokus Publishing House director, said that the time for printing has increased significantly. Previously, it took three weeks to produce a print run, now it takes 1.5-2 months. She says that before the recent massive attacks, Kharkiv printing operations fulfilled orders on time, sometimes even ahead of the deadline.


According to the publisher, the Unisoft book factory plans to deliver the print run of two book titles that are currently in print to the publisher without delay at the end of May.



“There’s no electricity, so we work from home when there is internet and power supply. We are lucky: after the shelling, one of the Internet providers granted access to WiFi for everyone. I have EcoFlow, and I can recharge my laptop. We got used to it. It is hard, of course, but you can survive it all. Krokus is a small publishing house with a small backlog of books, and it is easier for us than for others,” Gafurova summarized.



Oleksandr Krasovytskyi, Director of Folio Publishing House said that only a number of the city’s printing shops are currently operating due to the lack of a power supply Out of the three Kharkiv printing shops where Folio prints books, two work partially or at night, and one has not yet resumed its work. Several books will be released a week or two later than planned. Some book titles will be released one or two months later, including books that Folio was preparing for the “Knyzhkova Kraina” book festival in Kyiv in April.



“Our publishing house operates from a half-destroyed office, with computers in a secured room. People work from home: both from Kharkiv and abroad. For part of the working day, the electricity and mobile phone service in the area where the publishing house is located are cut off. Of course, it is difficult, but we continue to work,” said the director.



According to him, with the intensification of Russian attacks, it has become increasingly difficult to plan the issue of books in 2024.


Yulia Orlova, director of Vivat Publishing House, spoke about significant delays in printing as well. According to her, the time required for printing is about thirty days. Now, it takes up to two months.



“Publishers understand everything. We all understand that there is a big problem in the energy sector, especially in Kharkiv. There is also a lack of qualified personnel, and the delay of book paper at the Polish border. I would like our readers to understand the situation. Publishers and printing houses are doing their best,” she says.



Vivat changed its publishing plans due to the attacks. Sometimes they print smaller editions than necessary to increase the quantity of titles, sometimes they deliberately change the books that will be published. “Sometimes we are forced to avoid colored book edges or other interesting technological solutions because we realize now is not the right time for that. Unfortunately, such decisions affect both publishing houses and the market as a whole. Readers do not receive everything they want quickly, and publishing houses are made to reduce their productivity a bit,” said the publishing house director.


According to her, the return to the usual pace of printing depends on external factors: the absence of constant attacks on Kharkiv, the quality of energy supply, and the speed of paper supply.


For now, the publishing house continues to print books in Kharkiv: logistics costs additionally increase the retail price of a book, and the publishing house is also committed to supporting local printing houses.


Larysa Bobrovnikova, director of Chytarium publishing house, said there were no delays because the publishing house had delivered the copies before the last massive shelling of Kharkiv.



“There are no delays now, but I don’t know what will happen in May. We are in touch with the printing shops,” she added.



As reported, on March 20, Russia launched an X-35 anti-ship missile at the industrial area of Kharkiv, where the printing house is located.



Main image: Vivat



Translation: Iryna Saviuk
Editing: John Gordon Sennett, Sr