Critical situation in book publishing, requires systemic measures from the state

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KYIV. November 19 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The lack of state support programs for book publishing, the failure to implement the Strategy for the Development of Reading for 2021-2025, the lack of funding for the purchase of books for libraries and priority funding for the publication of textbooks and teaching materials, the lack of effective measures to combat piracy has caused the plight in the book publishing industry and culture, industry representatives said.
“The Ukrainian government regards the sphere of culture as something secondary, marginal, optional, which neither requires state support nor affects the state of society. In Ukraine, for more than 30 years of independence, we have tried to promote a program to support reading and books four times, but the Cabinet of Ministers has not approved, “said the President of the Council on Thursday. Ukrainian Association of Book Publishers and Distributors, Oleksandr Afonin, at a press conference at the Interfax-Ukraine agency.
He also noted that the Cabinet of Ministers now has the Strategy for the Development of Reading for 2021-2025 “untouched”, drawn up by the Ministry of Information Policy with the participation of experts, but after its presentation in April this year and the support of the Verkhovna Rada Profile Committee, it was not approved, which means that it does not receive specific funding.
In addition, he added, almost a year ago, the parliament registered bills n ° 5238 and n ° 5239, notably providing for the exemption of book publishers from the tax on returned during the crisis period, but their fate is also unknown.
Afonin also noted that the state budget for 2022 did not provide funds for the purchase of books to replenish library funds.
According to the chairman of the board of the National Association for Education Victoria Voytsytska, the publication by the Ministry of Education of textbooks and teaching aids is annually underfunded in Ukraine, in particular, for 2022 , only 40% of the 9th grade student needs are funded, and textbooks for children with special needs are not funded at all for printing braille textbooks (the need is 381 million dollars). UAH).
“Ukraine is also today a leader in the violation of intellectual property rights, especially literary content and counterfeit products, but we have not seen a single criminal case against piracy initiated by agents law enforcement, ”Afonin said.
The general manager of the Folio publishing house, Oleksandr Krasovytsky, noted that for many years book publishers talked about three main problems in the industry related to the state: the lack of library reform and government policy in the area of ​​libraries, electronic and paper piracy, and the presence of a white-gray-black market for books from the Russian Federation.
He noted that in the past two years another problem had been added: in Ukraine there were many sellers of Russian books made of pirated paper, printed “under the table” for sale in the markets, and estimated their share at 10-15% of the market.
“We understand that an average book printed in Russia costs 250 UAH in Ukraine, one printed in Ukraine costs 170-180 UAH and pirated – 60-80 UAH, that is, the reader will choose the one that is less This has already led to the closure of market segments that have gone to the level of pirates. And without the intervention of the police in the activities of these markets, nothing will work, “he said. .
Krasovytsky also noted the plight of bookstores in Ukraine.
According to him, if before the coronavirus crisis, the bookstore’s budget consisted of 60% of funds that are donated to publishers, 20% for salaries and 20% for rent, today, while a significant share of hard copy book sales went online, the amount that bookstore owners receive has fallen by about a third or even half, but the amount they spend on maintenance and salaries has remained.
“That is, it’s already 40% and 40%, or 30% and 30%, and there isn’t enough money to reimburse publishers. Stores close with debts, publishers shoulder the underpaid money, and the store problem is transferred to the publishing level – last year, 340 out of about 1,250 publishers went out of business, and that number will increase, ”he said.
According to him, in such a situation, the Ukrainian market can be absorbed by the Russians, who “will spare no expense for it”.
The general manager of the Ranok publishing house Viktor Kruhlov noted that many employees have already been transferred to part-time jobs in the publishing house, and there are publishing houses where 60 to 70 % of staff do not work.
“Last year, the number of draws fell by a third, and this year, compared to the crisis that already occurred last year, for 10 months we have had a 20% drop in draws. It is a catastrophic situation. If 30 years ago there were 3,000 bookstores in Ukraine, in 2019 – 250-300, then 52 bookstores were closed last year, “he said.
In addition, another negative factor is the rising prices of materials for books.
“This year the price of materials has started to increase: Ukrainian cardboard at the beginning of the year cost 18,000 UAH per ton, it is now 28,000 UAH per ton, then next year it is expected 35,000 to 40 thousand UAH per ton. Offset paper now costs 42 thousand UAH, and in the next one it will cost at least 50 thousand UAH. That is, the price of materials has already increased by 30-80%, and next year their price will double, which will affect the price and demand for books, ”Kruhlov said. .
Following the results of the press conference, its participants outlined the measures necessary to support book publishing, in particular to start the full implementation of the Strategy for the Development of Reading, to provide for the purchase of books in the areas to which it is planned to allocate 1000 UAH to speed up vaccination against COVID-19, to create the conditions for lending to industry subjects at a low interest rate (2-4%), to make a systematic purchase for libraries in volumes allowing an annual renewal of 5% of the library’s holdings.
Among the good initiatives, Kruhlov noted Bill No. 6287, registered in the Verkhovna Rada, which provides for reimbursement of rental costs for bookstores selling Ukrainian books (up to 20% of turnover) and gift certificates for the purchase of Ukrainian books at birth. and at the age of 14.


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