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P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY®

Special Report 2011

Publishing in RUSSIA
A young and aggressive market focused on
more cross-cultural exchanges and
closer ties with the global publishing community
Publishing in Russia 2011

are concentrated in two cities: Moscow


Broadening its presence abroad while and St. Petersburg. One can easily meet
85% of the industry players just in Mos-
transforming its domestic infrastructure cow and take an 80-minute plane ride or
a three-and-a-half-hour fast train to St.
Petersburg to see the rest. No multiple
city–hopping itineraries required.
In Russia, a print run tends to cover

The Dynamic Russian the whole lifespan of a title and indicates


the success of a title (or author). Publish-
ers usually do not keep any inventory,

Book Market preferring instead to push all onto


shelves. Reprinting is a new concept now
that print run has come down and pub-
lishing has become more demand-based.
Here is a country where cloth-bound
By Teri Tan children’s books are more common than
those in paperback. There lies the snob
appeal, as paperbacks are perceived to
Talk about transformation. In a span of 20 years, the Russian cater for the lower-income brackets.
These unique characteristics have pro-
book market has made a 180-degree shift, from state-owned duced some challenges along with oppor-
publishing and distribution to privately held (except for a few tunities within the industry. And no one
knows better, or can offer clearer observa-
exceptions) and increasingly client driven. Every component tions, than the insiders.
of its book market was created overnight, after state-owned Andrew Nurnberg, of the eponymous
rights agency (the first to set up shop in
publishing and the infrastructure supporting distribution and Moscow), says, “Smaller publishers have
retailing collapsed. been having a tough time trying to keep
ahead of the game, not least

S
because the large companies
uch transformation have deep pockets when it comes
has resulted in sev- to author advances. Yet some of
eral characteristics these publishers, by virtue of
unique to the mar- having a smaller output, have
ket. For instance, been able to invest time, energy,
one will find huge and marketing resources to good
publishing conglomerates pro- effect. For example, they have
ducing a staggering number of begun to invite international
publications in a single day. authors to Russia for promo-
Eksmo and AST, the two behe- tional tours. The quality of their
moths that control nearly 45% translations is improving, as are
of the market, have published jacket designs and overall pro-
more than 600 titles per month duction. But the Russian pub-
in recent years—something lishing industry is suffering
On display at Moscow Dom Knigi are translated titles including
that is unheard of in the rest of from poor distribution—in fact,
COVER PHOTO © ISTOCKPHOTO / MIKIE 11

Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Mary Higgins Clark’s I


the world. Heard That Song Before, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Jack
some distributors even got into
Big publishers have also Kerouac’s On the Road, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed. financial difficulties—as well as
integrated vertical chains that from high production costs and
may include wholesaling, bricks-and- vices and online distribution. These ser- low retail prices. Russian readers, how-
mortar bookselling, online retailing, and vices are in turn offered to smaller pub- ever, have been privileged to be able to
digital content aggregation. Growth in lishers. buy cheap books, and it is a true pleasure
the e-book segment, meanwhile, has It is also worth noting that, for a coun- to see bookshops filled with readers pur-
some branching out into digitization ser- try so vast, publishing and distribution chasing five or six books at a time.”
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M 1
Publishing in Russia 2011

Sergey Kondratov, publishing veteran I believe, should be commensurate with sellers hit millions of copies, while for-
and chairman of Terra Publishing, the quality of a book. There is a definite eign titles make up less than 13% of all
laments the limited range of works by need for some adjustment in the e-book titles published in 2010, we fully
contemporary Russian authors and market.” expect to see increased rights activity
poets. He also says, “There are few pro- In view of the need to close the loop- with the West and Asia in the near
fessional houses capable of producing holes, encourage reading, and promote future,” adds v-p Alexandra Shipetina
high-quality titles. Currently, many Russian literature abroad, several organi- (also v-p of Centrepolygraph), who will
publishers are focusing on the children’s zations have been hard at work to push be traveling to the Beijing Interna-
segment, but many titles are hastily put that agenda. tional Book Fair this August with
together, duplicated and offered in doz- The most important and aggressive is other RBU delegates, and working on
ens of versions, and there are few illus- the Federal Agency of Press and Mass events for the 2012 BookExpo Amer-
trated editions for teenage readers.” Communications (FAPMC). It is respon- ica. Meanwhile, government funds for
(Incidentally, professionalism in pub- sible for implementing new technolo- reading promotions and antipiracy
lishing is the goal of the Printing Arts gies, promoting reading, and providing campaigns are on their way to RBU.
department of Moscow State University. a regulatory framework for the industry. The seven-year-old Mikhail Prokho-
The rector, Professor Alexander Tsy- Its goals are also to promote Russian lit- rov Foundation is a privately funded
ganenko, launched the country’s first erature and forge closer links with the organization aggressively promoting
master’s degree in publishing in partner- rest of the publishing world. Deputy contemporary Russian literature and
ship with Oxford Brookes University head Vladimir Grigoriev, one of the thought to the world. Irina Prokho-
last year.) founders of the prestigious Russian Big rova, cofounder and chairperson of the
E-books and online bookstores, Kon- Book Prize, is a key driver in the cam- expert board (as well as publisher/edi-
dratov adds, “are the modern facets of the paign to put Russia on the global pub- tor of NLO, or New Literary Observer),
book industry, and both have been hap- lishing map because, as he has said, says, “Our Transcript program is an
pening in Russia for quite some time. “Russian literature should know no international grant competition, in
But despite this fervor for digital titles, boundaries.” which we provide translation sup-
libraries—no matter how technologi- Next comes the Russian Book Union port—in any foreign language—for
cally advanced—should continue to (RBU). It represents the whole book Russian fiction and nonfiction titles.”
stock print books.” Victor Fedorov, pres- community, encompassing the publish- Among the 31 authors supported by
ident of the Russian State Library—the ing, printing, library, and educational Transcript last year were Victor Zhi-
third largest in the world with 43 mil- sectors. Keeping its 200 full (and 1,500 vov (Languages and Culture in Russia in
lion items—shares that sentiment. He associate) members abreast of develop- the 18th Century), V. Voinovich (The
and his team have continued to archive ments pertinent to the industry is the Displaced Person), and Leo Klein (The
print titles and expand the collection organization’s main focus. Less known Phenomenon of Soviet Archaeology). Tran-
while digitizing selected collections and but no less important is RBU’s relief pro- script, launched two years ago with a
working with Google Books. gram to help provincial bookstores cope budget of $400,000 annually, accepts
Foreign publishers’ reluctance to with high rents and competition from applications year-round. So far, more
include digital rights in the contract is a retail chains that are selling more profit- than 530 have been processed, of
problem faced by many, not least CEO able goods. Last year, which 102 have been
Arkady Vitrouk of Azbooka-Atticus, RBU, with support from granted. “Selections are
where translations have enjoyed big suc- FAPMC, managed to per- made four times a year
cess. “This arises primarily because for- suade the customs depart- with the final decision
eign publishers find it very difficult to ment to maintain tax based on four main crite-
set the price for digital rights for our relief on imported paper ria: total rights fee and
market. Consequently, many titles meant for the book pub- translation cost, quality
quickly became available in digital for- lishing industry. of translation, impor-
mat through pirate Web sites after we Promotion of Russian tance of the author or
release the print edition. It is ironic literature abroad is not title, and publisher’s
because this confirms that the demand yet on RBU’s agenda, but reputation.”
for e-books is there, and unless we offer a it is working on more The foundation also
reasonably priced supply, we cannot events to promote coop- established the NOSE
stop—or at least reduce—digital piracy.” eration between Russia (New Prose) literary prize
At the same time, he bemoans the low and the international Alexandra Shipetina, v-p of the in honor of 19th-century
e-book prices in the Russian market. “In publishing community. Russian Book Union (as well novelist Nikolai Gogol on
a way, it destroys good content. Pricing, “Since our national best- as v-p of Centrepolygraph) the 200th anniversary of
2 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
Debut books are published by GLAS, a continuing series of
contemporary Russian writing in English translation, the most
comprehensive English-language source on Russian letters today.
www.glas.msk.su
Ordering information:
UK: Centr al Books/Inpress www.inpressbooks.co.uk
USA: Consortium Book Sales and Distribution www.cbsd.com
orderentry@perseusbooks.com
Publishing in Russia 2011

his birth. The abbreviation is also the sica, which is focused on a springboard for con-
name of Gogol’s most famous novella. promoting cultural and temporary Russian litera-
Last year’s winner, Vladimir Sorokin (for intellectual links between ture to reach a new level
Snowstorm), has long been considered a Russia and the English- of popularity.”
leading contemporary Russian writer. speaking world. “After The government is
He has two other books available in Eng- three successful years of also stepping up its
lish: The Queue and Ice. presenting Russian efforts in copyright pro-
As for the foundation’s focus on the authors at the Books from tection. One area of con-
Krasnoyarsk region, Prokhorova Russia stand at London tention is the issue of
explains, “This region is often called Book Fair and BEA, Aca- Svetlana Adjoubei, director of public domain. One
‘miniature Russia,’ because its economic, demia Rossica and the Academia Rossica landmark case occurred
demographic, and sociocultural charac- Russian Federal Agency last June when AST was
teristics are highly representative of the for Mass Communication have ordered to compensate Terra Publish-
whole country. Launching our activities launched a two-year programme,” says ing 7.6 billion rubles ($250 million).
there is in line with our regional/local Academia director Svetlana Adjoubei, The author at the center of the legal
approach. In the past three years, by “promoting contemporary Russia lit- wrangle is a Russian household name:
leveraging our Krasnoyarsk know-how, erature in the English-speaking world. sci-fi novelist Alexander Belyaev.
we have rapidly expanded our activities Beginning with the Russia Market Though the author died in 1942, his
to the Ural, far eastern, and central Focus at the London Book Fair, the works (under the Berne Convention’s
regions. We are set to introduce more programme continues with the Global stipulation of life plus 70 years) have
contemporary Russian voices to readers Market Forum: Russia at the 2012 not entered the public domain. Terra
around the world.” Book Expo America.” This programme obtained permission from the author’s
Another organization—a fixture at is supported by the launch of the trans- daughter to produce 630 sets of a six-
major book events—is Academia Ros- lation grants provided by the Russkiy volume deluxe edition priced at
Mir Foundation and coordinated by $3,800. AST, using post-Berne terms

Two friends. One Jar. Academia Rossica.


“Our organization facilitates rela-
(life plus 50 years), published 30,000
copies of the author’s collected works
The Universe’s DNA. tionships between writers, literary on the premise that the content is in
What could possibly agents, publishers and translators,” the public domain. AST is appealing
go wrong? Adjoubei continues. “The translation
grant, for instance, is another way of
the judgment.
Challenges and loopholes aside, there
encouraging publishers to translate is one message from many industry play-
Russian works. Information about ers for their overseas counterparts, either
Russian writers and agents, sample clearly communicated or subtly con-
translations, and a selection of Russian veyed to PW during our visit for this
titles in various languages will be report: given the new face of the Russian
available from the Russian stand. book industry, it is high time for the
“British and American readers mostly world to move on from Tolstoy, Dos-
know 19th-century classic Russian writ- toyevski, and Chekhov (no offense
ers, maybe a handful of those from the intended) to newer, fresher voices.
20th century, but at most one or two As such, visiting the St. Petersburg
contemporary writers. Our aim is to Book Fair (in April), Moscow Book Fair
present the range of contemporary Rus- (August), and Non/Fiction Fair (Decem-
FINDERS KEEPERS sian literature, including detective sto-
ries, thrillers, sci-fi, biographies, and
ber) or stopping at the Russian book
stand at the 2011 London Book Fair or
A novel by Russ Colchamiro historical fiction. This is a unique oppor- 2012 Book Expo America should be on
“A strong debut from a very tunity for the English-speaking world to the itinerary of any publisher or rights
imaginative writer.” —Publishers Weekly meet such bestselling novelists as Boris agency wanting a better understanding
Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/eRIGUs Akunin, Polina Dashkova, Dmitry of the Russian publishing industry and
Glukhovsky, Sergei Kostin, Sergey its players.
3 Finger Prints: http://bit.ly/9HzqQT Lukyanenko, and Anna Storabinets who Now let us start our journey to
3 Finger Prints Publishing 2010 are shaping Russia’s contemporary cul- uncover new collaborators, authors,
Paperback $13.99 USA ture. We hope that our programme at and opportunities in the largest coun-
(301p) ISBN: 978-0-9794801-4-0 the London Book Fair and BEA will be try in the world.  ■

4 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
RUSS_1/6V.indd 1 2/10/11 2:17 PM
Publishing in Russia 2011

Kundera, Richard Yates, Isabel Allende,


Exploring opportunities in rights exports Mario Vargas Llosa, Marc Levy, Cecelia
Ahern, Ben Elton, Lemony Snicket, Tove
and e-books while busy adding Jansson, and many others. It publishes
about 1,200 titles per year, and in 2010
translations to originals translations accounted for nearly 44% of
its catalogue.
The high percentage of translations,

A Young (and Very


explains Maxim Kryutchenko, founder
of Azbooka, is because “we are eager to
provide Russian readers with a wide

Ambitious) Group of range of foreign titles. When this com-


pany was founded, the intention was to
get Russian readers acquainted with

Publishers world literature, both classic and con-


temporary. But through the years, we
also have built up a strong Russian lit-
erature base—again both classic and con-
By Teri Tan temporary. There are several contempo-
rary Russian authors whom we are hon-
ored to represent and publish, and we use
every opportunity to produce more orig-
The current crop of Russian publishers is collectively on the inals. For instance, we have sold millions
young side, many of them born shortly before the dissolution of copies of works by Sergey Dovlatov,
Joseph Brodsky, and Vladimir Nabo-
of the Soviet Union in 1991. Then, teething problems were kov—authors who have been translated
many and the growth path rocky at times. But today these into English and are doing very well in
other countries. But it is quite difficult
publishers produce nearly 120,000 new titles per year, placing to uncover new Russian authors with
Russia firmly in the #4 slot in global ranking (after China, high overseas potential.”
CEO Arkady Vitrouk shares Kryu-
U.S., and U.K.) in terms of output. tchenko’s opinion of contemporary orig-

N
inals: “Russians are only now beginning
o one sums up the industry of banned titles. Unfortunately, new writ- to review what happened during the per-
today better than Natasha ers had little chance of being noticed in estroika period—a painful time for
Perova, publisher and this influx. But since the 2000s, Russians many—and the emotions and sentiments
founder of GLAS: “Pulp fic- have started to take more interest in in books on this period may not carry
tion triumphs over literary internal affairs, and the wild capitalism easily across borders. Selling them, much
fiction—in Russia and else- ride offers a lot of content for fiction. The as I would like to, will be difficult.” Vit-
where. Tolstoy and Dostoyevski would time has finally come for new voices to be rouk is busy promoting several authors
have a tough time getting published heard. Those writing in the early 1990s
today—they might not even win the have managed to get their works pub-
Booker or other major prizes. While the lished in the early 2000s and are gradu-
current Russian publishing scene is a far ally becoming known here and abroad.”
cry from what it used to be during the Let’s get a closer look at the industry
Soviet era, it is nowhere as developed as through the operations of 14 publishers
in the West. The distribution system, for (in alphabetical order).
instance, collapsed with the demise of
state-owned publishing, and it hasn’t
been restored to this day. Azbooka-Atticus
“Back in the early 1990s, after censor- The third largest publisher in Russia
ship was lifted, people rushed to catch up with around 5% of the market, Azbooka-
with world literature, resulting in a Atticus holds exclusive rights to such
frenzy of translation and also publication authors as Janus Leon Wisniewski, Milan Arkady Vitrouk, CEO of Azbooka-Atticus

W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M 5
Publishing in Russia 2011

including Yevgeny Grishkovetz. “His


Top 15 publishers in 2010
titles invariably sell more than 100,000 (by title and number of copies)
copies each, and they have been trans- Rank Publisher Title output Rank Publisher Total no. of copies
lated into German, French, and Norwe- (in thousands)

gian. Japanese and English are next, I 1 Eksmo 9,663 1 Eksmo 78,804
hope.” At the upcoming London Book 2 AST 9,333 2 AST 72,255
3 Prosveshcheniye 1,646 3 Prosveshcheniye 48,791
Fair, he will present Leonid Parfenov, a
4 Azbooka-Atticus 1,481 4 Drofa 17,122
television personality and author of a 5 Rosman 1,146 5 Azbooka-Atticus 14,913
series of books on the Soviet Union, and 6 Drofa 1,115 6 Ekzamen 14,556
Denis Osokin, who is famed for short 7 OLMA Media Group 1,099 7 Rosman 12,317
stories. “One of Osokin’s stories, ‘Silent 8 Fenix 1,016 8 OLMA Media Group 10,632
Souls,’ was made into a movie that was 9 Ripol Classic 979 9 Ripol Classic 8,194
subsequently nominated for the Grand 10 Ekzamen 894 10 Ventana-Graf 6,916
Prix at the 2010 Venice Film Festival. 11 Veche 894 11 Mir Knigi 6,372
12 Centrepolygraph 732 12 Centrepolygraph 4,787
Academia Rossica is set to show the
13 Piter 622 13 Veche 3,973
movie prior to the book fair.” 14 Mir Knigi 587 14 Piter 3,061
In the children’s segment, Azbooka- 15 Ventana-Graf 455 15 Fenix 3,058
Atticus boasts names like writer Anton SOURCE: THE RUSSIAN BOOK UNION, 2011
Soya (famed for Emo Boy), illustrator
Anton Lomayev, and paper engineer of merchandise from Disney, Sanrio, Fox, Given that AST prints at least 60% of
Nikolai Nemzer. The present children’s Warner Brothers, Hasbro, Mattel, DC its titles at two wholly owned facilities,
book segment in Russia, says Vitrouk, Comics, and others. the plan is definitely achievable. “At the
“can be summarized in one word: prolif- According to president Oleg Bartenev, same time,” Bartenev continues, “con-
eration. Basically, every Russian pub- “There is an urgent need to work with our tent and design for print books must go
lisher—and that includes us—produces foreign publishing partners to obtain a notch—or a few notches—higher to
some children’s titles. Although the seg- digital rights for titles licensed to us. This compete with other media out there.
ment has not grown that much, the sup- is one way to reduce piracy of e-titles. Take fashion magazines as an example.
ply has certainly broadened a lot. Now Given that around 30% of published titles They didn’t die because of sophisticated
one can find children’s books for any will migrate to e-book format, it is critical televisions or the availability of fashion
taste, from Soviet classics to avant-garde to close loopholes that allow piracy to hap- channels. They get more design based
European picture books, creative pop- pen. For AST, the plan is to retain our and content oriented to compete. For the
ups and novelty titles. At the same time, market share—currently estimated at book industry, I would cite Dorling
consumers are becoming more picky, 20% of the industry—in the traditional Kindersley, one of our publishing part-
paying more attention to the content format while using more sophisticated ners, for setting the standards in merging
before making the purchase.” designs and printing methods to discour- content and creativity.” For the foresee-
age illegal scanning of our titles.” able future, AST (derived from the first
letter of three of the directors’ names:
AST Andrei, Sergei, Tatiana; Oleg and Igoz
From its humble beginning as a book- are the other directors) aims to cover
shop in 1990, AST has produced nearly every book segment. Its 800 editors,
33,000 titles within the span of 22 years. divided into 40 teams, also work with
It often vies with Eksmo for top billing big magazine brands such as National
as Russia’s biggest publisher. Around Geographic and DeAgostini.
30% of its list is translated, and it reads With more than 330 stores within its
like a who’s who of the fiction world: Ste- Bukva chain (“with plans to add 50 shops
phen King, Stephenie Meyer, John annually”), AST has also made huge
Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Nicholas injections (to the tune of $50 million)
Sparks, Paulo Coelho, and Wilbur Smith. into ailing retail giant Top Kniga. “They
Homegrown talents are not few either, account for 40% of our sales, and we sim-
and these include Boris Akunin, Pavel ply cannot afford to see such a vast dis-
Basinsky, Edward Radzinsky, Sergei tribution network collapse. It would be
Lukyanenko, Dmitry Glukhovsky, and catastrophic for the whole Russian book
Polina Dashkova. On the children’s side, industry.” Bartenev is also trying to read
various licenses have resulted in a range Oleg Bartenev, president of AST further into the nation’s changing demo-
6 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
We offer:
is an international grant competition – Full or partial payment of the rights;
launched in 2009 by the Mikhail – Full or partial financing of translation
Prokhorov Fund, a private charitable costs;
foundation, to promote contemporary – Partial support of printing costs
Russian literature and thought for non-fiction books.
throughout the world. For your information:
We provide translation support for: –The Transcript program supports
–Russian non-fiction (history, the translation from Russian into any
philosophy, political, social and foreign language;
cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, –Applications are accepted year round
interdisciplinary studies, etc.); and decision is made four times a year
–Russian fiction (prose, poetry (January 31, April 30, July 31,
and drama, including children’s and October 31);
literature). – Publishers may apply for a grant
before they have signed a contract
www.prokhorovfund.com with the rights holder.
Publishing in Russia 2011

graphics. “The 1 to 10 age group is esti- Eksmo


mated to be thrice the size of the 17 to Bookselling was how Oleg Novikov and
25 group. There is going to be tremen- Andrei Gredasov—currently CEO and
dous pressure on kindergartens and pri- editor-in-chief respectively—started
mary schools, and this represents a big Eksmo back in 1991. Since then, organic
opportunity for the children’s book and expansion and various acquisitions have
merchandise segment. But instilling the turned it into one of the largest book
reading habit in the young would require publishing and retail companies in Rus-
nationwide support and promotional sia. With 81 million copies printed per
effort—something the Russian Book year and around 10,000 titles in its cata-
Union and various governmental agen- logue, Eksmo has major stakes in differ-
cies are undertaking.” Dmitry Shipetin, chairman of Centrepoly- ent sectors of the book industry, includ-
graph ing retail (with nearly 200 stores through
the chains Bookvoed, Bibliosphera, and
Centrepolygraph of output in 2010, the company was Chitay-gorod) and an e-bookstore
This has been the Russian home of Har- founded by chairman Dmitry Shipetin in (LitRes). For a general trade publisher
lequin for the past 16 months. The pop- 1990. It remains until today a general that started with only one title (on his-
ularity of such Harlequin authors as trade publisher specializing in fiction, tory) in 1993, it accounted for 20% of
Nora Roberts, Tess Gerritsen, and Deb- memoirs, history, popular medicine, and the total Russian book sales last year; it
bie Macomber is making Centrepoly- self-help, and it has not been tempted to was 18% in 2009. “Acquisitions in the
graph’s latest publishing program a run- enter the children’s, educational, or busi- retail sector have allowed us to be the
away success. At least 172 Harlequin ness segments. With translations cur- biggest retail operator in Russia, and this
titles have been translated since the deal rently accounting for around 25% of its lays a strong foundation for our future
was sealed by v-p Alexandra Shipetina. catalogue, Centrepolygraph is known in expansion,” says Novikov, whose com-
“Laying the groundwork was tedious as Russia for introducing such authors as pany also owns publishing and retail
we had to relook at our whole operation Peter James, Ann Granger, James Had- concerns in Ukraine. The only Russian
prior to signing the agreement,” she says. ley Chase, and Vicki Myron. “I’m proud publishing company to run a mySAP
“We expanded our sales channels, put in to say that we started Russians reading ERP system to integrate the various divi-
a new editorial team, created a special translated thrillers and detective stories, sions in its vast operation, Eksmo cur-
Web site to promote the line, and ramped and now romance. We were also the first rently has eight regional distribution
up our marketing team for this.” to translate titles on famous politi- centers, both in Russia and outside—
Recently, the contract was amended to cians—local and foreign—such as Jung Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny
cover digital rights, and her team are Chang’s work on Mao Zedong. As for Novgorod, Samara, Ekaterinburg, Ros-
now busy working with LitRes, Russia’s original titles, we developed two unique tov-on-Don, and Kiev, Ukraine, and
biggest digital bookstore and content series of autobiographies—totaling 500 Almaty, Kazakhstan—and is working on
aggregator, to have the titles converted titles—of Russian and German soldiers expanding the network further into the
into e-books and prepared for downloads. of WWII,” says Shipetin, whose com- often neglected eastern regions of Russia.
“Names like Nora Roberts are highly pany is also famous for another original Blockbuster authors abound among
recognizable and enthusiastically series of more than 100 autobiographies Eksmo’s 8,000-odd names, with fiction
accepted by the market,” says Shipetina, in the history of Russia during the Com-
“but it needs more time to know new munist revolution and the fall of the
authors such as Macomber, for whom we monarchy in the early 20th century.
have to make additional promotional Asked to recommend authors that may
effort and learn to be patient. We are appeal to foreign publishers, Shipetin
translating one author at a time while reels off several names, including nonfic-
planning a focused marketing campaign tion author Valery Sinelnikov, whose You
to promote each one.” And to ensure the Must Love Your Illness has six million cop-
widest and most cost-effective distribu- ies in print, and fantasy authors Dmitry
tion of Harlequin titles, the company has Khvan, Roman Haer, and Igor Chuzin,
inked an exclusive deal with Russian whose works are published in the series
Post to make use of its 39,000-odd sales Our People Out There. “Contemporary
offices and 80 regional hubs to reach Russian authors remain largely unknown
readers in every corner of the nation. to foreign publishers and readers, and we
Ranked #12 in the industry in terms hope this situation will change soon.” Oleg Novikov, CEO of Eksmo

8 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
Publishing in Russia 2011

a range of books, a dedicated Web site Russian Language, Culture, and Translation.
and newsletters on soccer and national “With nearly 10 million Russian émigrés
players, well in advance of the 2018 in the U.S. and thousands of expatriates
World Cup in Russia. in Russia, this title is set to bridge cul-
Unlike many publishers, however, tural differences and bring people closer,”
Novikov does not view the Internet and Perova says. “Consortium has started dis-
digital publishing as threats: “These are tributing it in March, and we hope it will
additional opportunities to distribute our be a sleeper hit.”
publications and make them available to Her backlist of 50 titles (half of which
the masses outside major cities more are anthologies) includes Squaring the
affordably and conveniently.” But a Circle, a collection of Debut Prize win-
shrinking reading population, estimated ners. “This unique award for writers
at around 20% of the whole population under 25 is considered on par with the
for the past two years, is worrying, and Booker. We collaborate with Olga
Novikov, in a bid to reverse the trend, is Slavnikova—Debut Prize Foundation
Agent 013 by Daria Dontsova, one of the initiators and supporters of a director and Russian Booker Prize win-
the most published author in nationwide program to promote reading. ner—to provide glimpses of present-day
Russia Russia, its thoughts and its future direc-
tion. Aside from the English and Chinese
emerging as its strongest (and best- GLAS editions out in 2010, we also launched
known) segment. Foreign names in its Few publishing houses work harder than the French edition last February. Oth-
catalogue (of which 25% are translations) GLAS to promote works by contempo- ers—in German by Suhrkamp, Italian by
include Stieg Larsson, Danielle Steele, rary Russian authors. Winner of the Ros- Marco Tropea Editore, and Spanish by La
Haruki Murakami, Arturo Pérez- sica Prize for best translations in 2007 Otra Orilla—will be available within the
Reverte, Agatha Christie (since 2008), (for 7 Stories by Sigizmund Krzhizha- next 12 months.”
and Eoin Colfer. As for Russian authors, novsky) and again in 2009 (Iramifications One surprise hit at GLAS is The Diary
this is the house of Darya Dontsova, by Maria Galina), GLAS has just part- of a Soviet Schoolgirl, an Anne Frank–like
Tatyana Tolstaya, Tatiana Ustinova, Lud- nered with Consortium Books to distrib- diary that was accidentally discovered
mila Ulitskaya, Yuri Nikitin, and Viktor ute its titles to non-British Common- among KGB archives. “We published the
Pelevin. Dontsova, nicknamed the queen wealth countries. “We publish the best of abridged version, and it has since been
of detective stories, is the most published contemporary Russian fiction in English. translated into 20 languages. Another
author in Russia, with a total print run In fact, many authors appeared in English successful title is Arkady Babchenko’s A
of 122 million copies, while Ustinova for the first time with GLAS, and some Soldier’s War in Chechnya. We published
takes third place with around 30 million. were then picked up by overseas publish- his firsthand account as part of our War
“Some Eksmo authors, such as Dontsova, ers,” says founder/publisher Natasha & Peace collection, and now his book is
Ulitskaya and Pelevin, have had their Perova, who works with American and available in 15 languages, including Eng-
works successfully licensed to foreign British translators. She has just reprinted lish by Portobello–Grove Atlantic. It is
publishers, mostly European. But rights Michele Berdy’s The Russian Word’s Worth: amazing how those books that you didn’t
sales are tough going,” adds Novikov, A Humorous and Informative Guide to the pin much hope on unexpectedly do well.”
currently vice chairman of the Russian But successes from contemporary writers
Book Union and an expert considered by are far and few between. “Russian litera-
many as the spokesperson of the Russian ture is still deeply entrenched in the clas-
book industry. sics. Language and cultural barriers are
“The trends in the marketplace point further obstacles to translation of Russian
to growing interest in children’s books, works. On the other hand, English-
hobbies and crafts, cooking and popular speaking countries are notoriously self-
literature. And these are the areas that sufficient, and translated titles make up
Eksmo will focus on for the next two to only 3% of their publications. It’s time
three years.” Far-sighted Novikov, who for English-speaking people to realize
started a culinary magazine, Bread & how much they are missing,” says Perova,
Salt, two years ago, has developed a listing several Debut Prize winners, such
related Internet portal, which boasts as Alisa Ganieva (from Daghestan), Igor
more than two million visitors per Natasha Perova, founder and publisher of Savelyev (Bashkiria), Alexei Lukyanov
month. At the same time, he has launched GLAS (the Urals), and Irina Bogatyreva (Mos-
10 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
Discover Unknown Russia
with New Literary Observer //
New Literary Observer is the leading publishing house
in Russia focusing on humanities, contemporary art,
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tel/fax: +7 495 229 9103 // info@nlo.magazine.ru // www.nlobooks.ru


Publishing in Russia 2011

cow), as the upcoming voices of modern they grow while we expand our publish-
Russian literature. ing scope into new areas. For a start, as a
general partner in Kniguru—a new
award for YA and children’s books that
Meshcheryakov was launched last November—we will
Wo n d e r f u l t h i n g s h a p p e n e d a t publish the winning YA authors and take
Meshcheryakov: a former banking execu- it from there.”
tive became its founder and publisher,
and a biologist won the nation’s best New Literary Observer
book award. For Vadim Meshcheryakov,
children’s books in Russia used to be (NLO)
little segments in big publishing houses: NLO specializes in the study of Russian
“Commoditylike, they were available in culture in a global context. Last year, edi-
big quantities but low on quality. Book- Vadim Meshcheryakov, founder and publisher tor and publisher Irina Prokhorova pub-
stores, on the other hand, were very con- of Meshcheryakov lished 85 new books and 16 journals (six
servative in stocking them. As a former in NLO, six in NZ: Debates on Politics
banker with good knowledge of how New Zealand author Margaret Mahy, and Culture, and four in Fashion Theory:
business is done, I set up this publishing whose works have been published only in Dress, Body & Culture). This year, she
house six years ago to provide both quan- magazines. The demand for foreign con- plans to release 100 new books and is
tity and quality.” The latter is certainly temporary titles is stable but not high working on two special issues of the
in abundance when one thumbs through enough to generate bestsellers. Classics NLO journal devoted to one key ques-
Meshcheryakov’s catalogue. A particu- such as those by James M. Barry and tion: how to write the other history of
larly striking title is The Insects’ Letters by L e w i s C a r r o l l r e m a i n p o p u l a r. ” mankind: “It is about the transnational
biologist Olga Kuvykina. The 2010 Meshcheryakov publishes about 150 new history of an individual.”
Book of the Year, announced at the Mos- titles per year (“I won’t be embarrassed Prokhorova’s goals are to create new
cow International Book Fair, was also a by any of the front- or backlist titles; they trends in Russian human studies and
finalist in the Enlightener contest along- are all good”) and is focused on publish- contemporary fiction as well as to develop
side many noteworthy nonfiction books ing for the Russian market instead of NLO as a research center. “I’m launching
meant for adults. selling rights (“since we are truly a non- a new long-term project, a New Anthro-
Although translations take up only entity in the global publishing industry, pology of Culture, aimed at radically re-
10% of its list, Meshcheryakov offers and even more so when it comes to chil- evaluating current approaches to national
many works by top European illustrators dren’s books”). and world history. There will be a set of
(Arthur Rackham, Jon Bauer, Charles The dream of gathering all children’s special NLO journals and a series of
Robinson, and Mabel Lucy Atwell) and publishers under one roof while provid- workshops and seminars on this topic,
was the first to introduce Finnish author ing a genre-specific distribution network and these in turn will present us with
Mauri Kunnas and Italian writer Silvana prompted Meshcheryakov to set up Curi- content for a new series of books.”
de Mari to Russian children. “This year, osity Shop for Children’s Books last year. Last year, Prokhorova collaborated
we are planning to release two titles by “We have four stores now—in Moscow, with Gallimard to translate works by five
St. Petersburg, Rostov, and Nizhny French authors on the emerging new
Novgorod—representing around 40
publishers, and the plan is to set up shop
in 10 other cities with populations in
excess of one million this year. It’s a
three-pronged approach: creating new
markets for small and medium-sized
publishers, introducing regional book-
sellers to a varied range of children’s
titles, and making available such selec-
tions to children in every corner of Rus-
sia.” Meanwhile, his seven-month-old
online bookstore now offers 3,500 titles
The Insects’ Letter, winner of the in the Russian language.
2010 Book of the Year award YA titles are next on his to-do list. Irina Prokhorova, editor and publisher of
“We want our readers to stay with us as New Literary Observer (NLO)
12 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
ROSMAN Group is the full-cycle
children’s brands
promotion company
and provides
following services:
-Localization or
greenfield product
line development based
on a licensor’s style guide
-Content production
for Russian
major TV channels
-Promotional programs
-Countrywide distribution

ROSMAN Group is a licensee


of large international brands,
also develops and markets
its own brands.

ROSMAN Group is a marketer


of children’s products.
-Book publishing
-Magazines for children
-Branded stationery
-Toys and games
-Collectible cards

ROSMAN Group Brands:


-Iron Man 2 (Marvel)
-Littlest Pet Shop (Hasbro)
-Fisher Price (Mattel)
-Dora the Explorer (Nickelodeon)
-Strawberry Shortcake (Cookie Jar)
-Beyblade (Hasbro)
-The Penguins of Madagascar
(Nickelodeon)
-Lego (Lego)
-My Melody (Sanrio)
-Tonka (Hasbro)
-Moxie (MGA)
-4ever Kids (MGA)
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
(Nickelodeon )
-Bella Sara (Hidden City)
-Masha & the Bear (Animakord)
-Disney Baby (Disney)
-Pop Pixie (Rainbow)

www.ROSMAN.ru
+7 (495) 933-70-70
Publishing in Russia 2011

concept of man based on recent discover- Qayyum’s Rubayat. “Culinary titles are
ies in natural and human sciences. The OLMA Media Group becoming trendy, and one of our cook-
special project was completed in time for Several major translations are set to boost books, Fast Cooking Recipes, has sales in
the Non/Fiction Book Fair in Moscow. OLMA’s sales this year (and to beat the excess of 400,000 copies.” Then there are
“French philosophy and literature previous gross of $60 million). George W. special titles dedicated to Moscow’s
exerted a tremendous influence on Rus- Bush’s Decision Points, Julia Child’s Master- 860th anniversary, audiobooks (under
sian thought and cultural identity when ing the Art of French Cooking, and a bestsell- the OLMA Bookster imprint), and orig-
the country was opening up to the world ing European children’s fantasy series inals by authors such as Anna Andri-
in the past. This joint effort—together Oksa Pollock are just some of the new anova and Natalia Nechayeva. “We are
with a series of roundtables involving the titles. “We are also planning to publish best known for high-quality full-color
authors—was most timely.” more of P.C. Cast and Erin Hunter as well illustrated encyclopedias such as The
Overall, 20% of NLO publications are as series by Cate Tiernan, Martin Cruz World People’s Great Encyclopedia, The
translations, including Robert Darn- Smith, Diane Mott Davidson, and Char- Slavic Encyclopedia, and Ten Centuries of
ton’s The Great Cat Massacre, Frances lotte Link,” says general director Dmitry Russian Literature.”
Yates’s Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Ivanov, who has bought many other titles, OLMA (coined from the name of its
Tradition and Donald Rayfield’s Stalin including an award-winning Spanish two founders, Olessa and Maxim) has
and His Hangmen. Originals such as series, but is keeping the names under around 150 staff in Moscow and will
Gasparov’s The Engaging Greece (70,000 wraps, especially since many are still in release 1,450 titles this year covering all
copies sold), Olga Vainshtein’s Dandy manuscript stage. “Translations will rep- genres. To date, 20 years since its incep-
(15,000 copies), the two-volume collec- resent at least 10% of our list this year, and tion, OLMA has published more than
tion Smells and Aromas in a Cultural Con- we are constantly looking out for the best 27,000 titles. Holding firm to its busi-
text (10,000 sets), prose by Bruskin and titles for our portfolio and our readers.” ness principle of zero investment in book-
Prigov, as well as poetry by Rodionov are On the other hand, rights sales of stores, it has opted to set up regional
among its bestsellers. Some have been works by Boris Akunin and Ernst Mul- offices—about 16 of them—to directly
translated into English (Alexei Miller’s dashev as well as various nonfiction and deliver products to retail shops and out-
The Romanov Empire and Nationalism and reference titles have been going on for lets instead of relying on wholesalers.
Marina Mogilner’s Homo Imperii), Japa- some time. Most of these go to eastern “Last year, the Russian book market
nese (Boris Akunin’s Writer and Suicide) European publishers. Back home, Alex- dropped by 20%—the same for the
and Korean (Mikhail Yamposky’s Lan- ander Bushkov, author of more than 80 2008–2009 period. For some, the rise of
guage-Body-Opportunity). Fiction, such as titles in various genres, is an OLMA e-books is worrying. But for me, the
Yuri Bujda’s The Prussian Bride and brand. “Bushkov’s fantasy and detective worst thing would be if people stopped
Vladimir Tuchkov’s Death Comes over the titles are very popular with Russian read- reading. So, whether it is e-books or print
Internet, is much more widely translated ers, and we have sold more than five mil- books, it does not matter to us. As a pub-
than nonfiction titles. lion copies of his books. We also sold lisher, we just want to see people continue
About 35% of NLO readership comes 420,000 copies of Boris Akunin’s Falcon reading in whichever format they like.”
from overseas markets. “Our journals are and Swallow.” Reference titles are another
subscribed by various foreign universi- OLMA specialty, with more than half a
ties with Slavic departments,” says million copies sold of its Great Painters Piter
Prokhorova. “We have Kubon & Sagner series, along with classics like Omar Competitor and collaborator are some-
and East View Publications to distribute times one and the same at St. Petersburg–
our journals in Europe and the U.S. We based academic publisher Piter. Last year,
also have a big online readership because president Vadim Usmanov set up iBooks
the journals are available on our Web .ru, a joint venture with BHV (his main
site. This free access has not affected our competitor in the computer book seg-
print subscription; in fact, it has signifi- ment) to sell e-books to universities. He
cantly increased the citation rate.” Natu- also collaborates with other academic
rally, Prokhorova is very enthusiastic publishers, namely Infra-M, Yurait, and
about e-books, especially for the aca- LAN, for the same purpose. “A year ago,
demic and educational segments. “I’m our Education Ministry mandated
looking for partners to turn our titles e-libraries at every university, and that
into e-books. I also hope that Amazon effectively changed our business stance
would be interested in distributing Rus- with respect to e-books. While the online
sian e-books in the near future.” Dmitry Ivanov, general director of OLMA store—which will offer about 2,500 titles
Media Group by the end of this year—has been success-
14 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
Publishing in Russia 2011

sell very well.) “We branched ness. Rights sales have picked up, with
out into nonfiction children’s titles going to the Baltic States, Bulgaria,
titles about two years ago, France, and Japan. How I Love America and
producing playbooks, educa- Paris, Moscow, Love by Misha Aznavour,
tional CD/DVD/interactive for instance, were sold to France.
titles, and parenting books. Ranked #9 in terms of output (979
We also broadened our pub- titles in 2010), Ripol specializes in fic-
lishing program to offer eco- tion, nonfiction, and children’s titles. Its
nomics and political journal- portfolio has broadened in recent years to
ism, besides strengthening include popular science and reference
our list in law, business, psy- and dictionaries. After celebrating the
chology, and medicine. These sale of its 150,000,000th book last year,
President Vadim Usmanov and general director Elena Nikol- new categories have proven general director Sergei Makarenkov and
skaya of Piter to be a good fit for us.” Best- his 250-strong team are ready to find
sellers in 2010 include Paul new authors—local and foreign—to
ful, sales from this channel represent Ekman’s Telling Lies (200,000 copies boost its 8,000-title catalogue and
barely 3% of our total business. One sold), Nikolay Starikov’s Crisi$: How to strengthen its 2,000-odd e-book list.
major challenge is that our universities, Create It (rights sold to Nova Zora of Bul- “But when it comes to translations, we
like many others around the globe, suffer garia, DPF of Slovenia, and Ukrainian are often not given the digital rights for
from a lack of government funding.” entrepreneur Tsirul Pavel), and Levin’s e-books. Or they are granted long after
Usmanov believes that e-books and Computer: Teach Yourself (11th edition). the print version has appeared. This does
multimedia titles are the future of the Five million copies of Levin’s titles have not help in terms of pushing e-book sales
publishing industry. But the online plat- been sold to date. Adds Usmanov, “Two or countering piracy,” says Makarenkov,
form is complex, adds general director years ago, at the start of the economic who also points out that poor Internet
Elena Nikolskaya: “There is no proper crisis, the plan was to survive the down- connectivity in the outer regions is a bar-
legislation in place to prevent piracy of turn. Today, the mission is to expand our rier to wider e-book distribution. For
e-books or uploaded print books. Free business in various segments, whether in print books, having nine bookshops in
downloading is rampant, especially e-book or print. We are highly adaptable Moscow and two “book supermarts” in
among students who want material from and proactive in this respect.” Voronezh and Kursk does help to bring
books that are usually very expensive and titles to readers.
are only available in hardcover.” Still, In the fiction market, Makarenkov has
there is no stopping Piter from venturing Ripol Classic witnessed dramatic changes: “There is an
beyond conventional publishing. Several At Ripol Classic, there is no bigger title emerging awareness of the importance of
months ago, it signed an agreement to in recent memory than Elizabeth Gil- promotion and positioning. So now we
put titles in Apple’s iBookstore and bert’s Eat, Pray, Love, which has sold have author tours, book signings, and
started participating in the Google more than 800,000 copies since its 2008 more targeted campaigns to coincide
Books project. launch. Other translated bestsellers in with the book launch. And, increasingly,
The past 20 years saw Piter, one of the 2010 include Cassandra Clare’s Mortal readers of fiction in Russia are women,
top three academic publishers in Russia, Instruments trilogy and Bernard Wer-
releasing around 8,000 titles (totaling 92 ber’s The Mirror of Cassandra. Werber, a
million copies in print run), 20% of French sci-fi novelist, is Ripol’s top
which are translations from mostly author in terms of sales, with two million
American publishers such as Pearson copies of his works printed and distrib-
Education, Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, uted in Russia.
Cengage Learning, and O’Reilly. It has Originals make up nearly 60% of
offices in 11 cities, including in Ukraine Ripol’s catalogue, and big authors include
and Belarus, and takes up nearly 60% of Andrei Yasrebov with his books in the
the Russian computer book market. Watching series, which together sold
However, the segment’s drastic drop— more than 150,000 copies in 2010, and
with nearly 50% contraction during the Victor Dragunsky with his Denis chil-
2008–2009 period—has prompted Piter dren’s series (60,000 copies). The last four
to find new businesses. (Today, however, months also saw Ripol selling 30,000
professional computer titles, especially copies of Olga Lucas’s trilogy and 25,000 Sergei Makarenkov, general director of Ripol
those by Alexander Levin, continue to of Sophia Catenina’s Will There Be Happi- Classic

W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M 15
Publishing in Russia 2011

which means we need well-designed cov- As such, the group has ventured
Top 10 authors in 2010
ers and better packaging to make books (adult titles) beyond publishing. It provides compre-
more appealing. Today, fiction blockbust- Rank Author
hensive marketing services for children’s
ers that sell above two million copies are 1 Darya Dontsova products, from localization/adaptation to
no longer just a dream. You can say that 2 Julia Shilova
complex nationwide multimedia promo-
modern Russians are no longer so serious, tional campaigns that involve content
3 Arthur Conan Doyle
with their nonfiction and literary tomes.” production for major TV channels. Ros-
4 Tatiana Ustinova
man is now the official distributor for
5 Tatiana Polyakova Hasbro, Mattel, and Giochi Preziosi. It
Rosman Group 6 Alexandra Marinina has licenses from Hasbro for Littlest Pet
This is Russia’s biggest children’s book 7 Alexandre Dumas Shop, Beyblade, and Tonka, and it works
publisher, ranked #5 in the publishing 8 Stephenie Meyer with Mattel, Disney Baby, and Cartoon
industry in terms of title output, with an 9 Boris Akunin
Network on publishing and merchandise
average of 1,300 titles per year. This is properties. It recently launched Bella-
10 Ekaterina Vilmont
also home to the young Hogwarts wiz- Sara in Russia. “Few Russian children are
SOURCE: THE RUSSIAN BOOK UNION, 2011
ard, with over 12 million copies of his allowed to use the Internet on their own
adventures sold so far. “We printed because parents are wary of undesirable
30,000 and 50,000 copies for the first Top 10 authors in 2010 online elements. So, we use BellaSara
(children’s books)
and second books respectively, and suc- magazine as the main brand carrier and
Rank Author
cess came only after the third book,” says roll out an extensive marketing program
1 Kornei Chukovsky
president Mikhail Markotkin. “No one to educate parents on the security of our
2 Vladimir Stepanov
believed that this series would be suc- online portal. This online/offline promo-
cessful here, and we certainly took a big 3 Agnia Barto tional campaign is essential for a success-
risk by leveraging our reputation to push 4 Irina Gurina ful product launch.”
a foreign—and totally untested— 5 Hans Christian Andersen Adds Markotkin, “Aside from the
author.” In the 1990s, the company 6 Samuil Marshak huge Russian market, our proximity to
depended on translations because of the 7 Charles Perrault neighboring countries such as Kazakh-
lack of local contemporary children’s 8 Alexander Volkov
stan and Ukraine, and our understanding
titles. “Our translations were then as of them, allows us to develop compre-
9 Nikolai Nosov
high as 90% of our entire list.” Today, hensive marketing plans that cover these
10 Grigory Oster
only about 25% of Rosman’s catalogue is regions for our overseas partners.”
translations, mostly YA titles such as SOURCE: THE RUSSIAN BOOK UNION, 2011

those by Pullman (whose Dark Materials


trilogy has sold one million copies), tional titles and fiction such as School for ROSSPEN
Paolini, Funke, Shan, and Stine. Preschoolers (12 million copies sold in ROSSPEN (or Russian Political Encyclo-
Originals are growing, especially pic- Russia), Kid’s Development (seven million), pedia Press) is the largest publisher of
ture books. Bestselling exports, however, and the series Novels for Girls (four mil- 20th-century archives of Russian and
come from original children’s educa- lion). These titles have been sold to 28 Soviet Union history. “We started with
European publishers including Svojtka the political history of the Soviet Union
(Slovenia), Zvaigzne (Latvia), Toper (Ser-
bia), Group 62 (Spain), and Fortuna Libri
(Czech Republic).
For Markotkin, the children’s segment
is one of the brightest spots in the cur-
rent Russian book industry. “We grew
significantly in recent years, not because
of natural market expansion but because
we took over the market shares of com-
panies that collapsed during the eco-
nomic crisis. Future growth, however,
has to come from beyond book sales. We
have to look into online games, TV pro-
Mikhail Markotkin, president of Rosman grams, and merchandise, all of which Andrei Sorokin, general director of
Group have huge market potential in Russia.” ROSSPEN
16 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
Publishing in Russia 2011

and Russia, and since then we have moved On record, our bestseller is Egor Gaidar’s
on to other branches of social science,” The Downfall of the Empire, which has sold
says general director Andrei Sorokin, more than 20,000 copies and is available
whose 40 staff members released 250 in English and French,” adds Sorokin,
titles last year. A historian by profession, who is planning to release several big
Sorokin initially planned ROSSPEN as a titles, including an encyclopedic series on
research institute. “It was only after the Russian Revolutionary Thought and the
total collapse of state-owned publishing continuation of the Library of Russia’s
in 1991 that I thought about establishing Social Thought to cover the whole 20th
this company as a publishing entity.” century. “Next year, on the 200th anni-
One of Sorokin’s biggest (and most versary of the 1812 Patriotic War, we
ambitious) projects took place in 2007 hope to release a three-volume encyclope-
when he collaborated with the Boris Yelt- dia with several partners, including the
sin President Centre Fund, the Russian State Historical Museum and the State Sergey Kondratov, founder and chairman of
State Archive, and a few other organiza- Hermitage, to commemorate the event.” Terra
tions to produce a massive 100-volume
series called the History of Stalinism. These two book clubs account for
More than 80 volumes have been released, Terra nearly 60% of Terra’s total sales. The
with around 50% translated from various This is a unique publishing company profit is pumped back into its general
languages including English, German, founded and chaired by Sergey Kondra- publishing division, where multivolume
Italian, and even Swedish. Nick Baron’s tov, a name known throughout Russian encyclopedias and various reference titles
Soviet Karelia: Politics, Planning, and Terror publishing and printing circles. Its core are produced. Among the titles are Ency-
in Stalin’s Russia was translated and added business is book clubs—but these are not clopedia of the Russian Revolution and Civil
to the series last month. So far, the His- your typical book clubs. Their names— War in Russia and Encyclopedia of Fascism
tory of Stalinism project has been short- Montplaisir and Marly, after the ancient and Anti-fascism—special titles that
listed for the IPA Freedom to Publish royal villas located near St. Petersburg— would appeal to international readers.
Prize twice—in 2009 and 2010. provide obvious hints of exclusivity. “But we have not sold any rights to over-
As to why a comprehensive and large- Montplaisir, established 11 years ago, has seas publishers yet,” says Kozhevnikov.
scale study of Stalin is crucial, he says, “It around 300 members who hail from the “We also have not planned to issue
is a fact, garnered from various socio- upper echelon of Russian society, includ- e-books in the near future, though we are
logical surveys, that more than 50% of ing politicians (presidents and ministers now seriously considering selling our
the population judge Stalin’s role in Rus- past and present) and billionaire busi- content to e-book aggregators.” Then
sian history to be positive, and the num- nessmen. there are thematic encyclopedias, such as
ber has grown in recent years. This series “Titles produced for Montplaisir the 15-volume Encyclopedia of Painting,
is aimed at overcoming the ideological members are deluxe collectibles of vin- which sells for around $350 and is among
and political legacy of the Soviet period, tage books,” says Grigory Kozhevnikov, the bestsellers. Given all these publish-
and uncovering the truth and facts. We Terra’s general director. Consider these: a ing activities, it is not surprising to note
believe that the creation of a modern type gilt-edged two-volume Baltic Fairy Tales that Terra printed its 10-billionth book
of civilization in Russia is only possible complete with gold and amber cover with Bertelsmann-Arvato back in 1996.
after we put the previous era into per- embellishments selling for $7,000 (and For a publishing house considered small
spective.” The series will be distributed only 20 sets available) or a four-volume in the Russian context and ranked nowhere
to 1,000 public and university libraries Emperor Alexander I with Swarovski crys- near the top 20 in terms of new titles or
once it is completed. tals and semiprecious stones forming the print run, Terra has a monopoly in the
Over the years, ROSSPEN has also won shape of a czar’s crown for $8,000. “Our deluxe/collectible editions segment with
several UNESCO prizes, including for bestsellers include the Legend of Sergius of its two book clubs, the most successful in
Russia Abroad: A Golden Book of Emigrants Radonezh, the 62-volume Grand Ency- the country. And now, its low-priced mul-
in 2007 and Essays in the History of Islamic clopedia, and the three-volume World of tivolume encyclopedias are setting the
Civilization in 2009. Last September, its Roerich.” In contrast, Marly Club, formed standards in the reference segment.
119-volume Library of Russia’s Social two years ago, serves a much wider mem-
Thought won the Book of the Year award. bership with titles that are priced much
“Scientific and research titles such as lower. It publishes one catalogue per Veche
those produced by ROSSPEN have lim- year, offering about 100 titles in total. History is at the heart of Veche. Whether
ited readership. We are happy when a Encyclopedia on Wines of the U.S.S.R., for it is historical novels or military history,
print run reaches 2,000 to 3,000 copies. instance, is one recent title from Marly. the publishing house has something to
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M 17
Leonid Igor
Igor Zimin
Zimin –– The
The Big
Big World
World of
of
Leonid Mlechin
Mlechin –– Cold
Cold War
War Imperial
Imperial Residences
Residences

Leonid Mlechin – KGB

David G. Chandler –
The Campaigns of Napoleon

Valerij Sinelnikov –
Mysteries of the Subconscious Roman Haer – Perfect Job
Eva
Eva Hornung
Hornung –– Dog
Dog Boy
Boy
Donald
Donald N.
N. Thompson
Thompson ––
The
The 12$
12$ Million
Million Stuffed
Stuffed Shark
Shark
Deon
Deon Meyer
Meyer –– Thirteen
Thirteen Hours
Hours

Ann Granger –
A Fine Place for Death

Peter James – Dead Like You

Vicki Myron – Dewey

Centrepolygraph Publishing House Man


2010
is one of the biggest publishers in Russia. Booker t,
Shortlis
n
732 titles were issued in 2010 with a total Russia
tion
publica
print run of 4 787 500 copies. in Ap il
r

The best books from Centrepolygraph are presented on a special exposition in the Presidential Library and
kept in the Personal Library of the Russian Patriarch.

Nora Roberts
Debbie Macomber
Tess Gerritsen
Susan Wiggs
Shannon Drake
Brenda Joyce
Maggie Shayne
Harlequin® Russia is a result of cooperation
between the world's leading publisher of women's
fiction Harlequin Enterprises Limited and the
Russian Publishing House Centrepolygraph
Publishing in Russia 2011

to offer readers an objective point of view Veche.” Each e-book currently retails at
on world history in various genres.” around 80 rubles ($2.80).
Veche’s editorial team released a series Recent years saw Veche adding trade
commemorating the 60th anniversary of titles to its portfolio, such as books on
WWII with a total print run of one mil- pets, hobbies, travel, medicine, and
lion copies a few months ago. It is set to health. “While our passion is for anything
become yet another bestseller. But for historical, we are also mindful of what our
now the distinction of being Veche best- readers would like to have on their book-
sellers belongs to three big series: 100 of shelf. And as a for-profit company, it
the Greats (on world history, told makes perfect sense to widen our publish-
through specific personalities, events, or ing program to cover different segments.”
cultural masterpieces), Military Adven-
tures (fictitious accounts), and Actual Other Players in the
Sergey Dmitriev, editor-in-chief of Veche History (in which historians, politicians,
and journalists, both native and foreign, Market Place
offer from its catalogue of well over discuss contemporary Russian history). It is impossible to cover all major players
10,000 titles. Editor-in-chief Sergey Among the many authors, novelist Val- in this article, but there are several names
Dmitriev, who recently bought Rory entin Pikul, whose war and naval his- that PW wants to mention briefly. In the
Clements’s Martyr and Revenger, says, torical novels have been adapted for the textbook segment—one that is seeing
“Translations represent 15% of our 2010 screen, emerges as its most popular. increased cooperation with American
list, and this figure is set to increase this Meanwhile, rights sales have started in and British publishers—there are Pros-
year. Our major plans for the next 24 earnest. “We are in the midst of selling veshcheniye, Drofa, and BINOM, while
months are to produce more bestselling several titles, including Vladimir Eksamen produces mostly study and test
translations and e-books, and, as always, Shiguin’s Kursk: 10 Years Later, Alexey guides. In the college and academic seg-
Isayev’s 1945: Triumph in the Offensive and ment, Infra-M has 50% share of the law
Defensive and Vladimir Lebedev’s Trea- market and 36% in business and eco-
INTRODUCING sures and Relics of the Romanovs,” adds nomics. On the other hand, Vlados,
Dmitriev, whose team is in negotiation largely regarded as a humanitarian pub-
with Bellona (Poland) and Helion (Great lisher, produces titles for teachers and
Britain). teacher trainers dealing with special
About 800 new titles (with print runs needs children. Trade publisher Vremya
averaging 5,000 copies each) are added focuses on 20th-century Russian authors,
each year. Interestingly, 90% of Veche especially of prose and poetry, while no
titles are in hardcover. Says Dmitriev, one does it better than Slovo when it
“Our readers and distribution partners comes to illustrated coffee-table books
prefer that. In fact, it has become a tradi- and art titles.
tion for us to release any title in hard- Many of the publishers named in this
cover.” Currently, the number of e-books report will be attending the 2011 Lon-
Your business is only stands at around 500. “We collaborate don Book Fair (April 11–13). Just head
as strong as your talent. with LitRes on e-books, and the agree- to the Russian Pavilion (Stand W555),
ment is that 50% of the revenue goes to and get to know them and their authors
Publishers Weekly’s new them, 20% to the author and the rest to better.  ■
JOB ZONE will enable you to
recruit from amongst the
publishing industry’s finest Acknowledgments
job applicants. Place your The task of selecting a representative group from a pool of 20,000 registered publish-
employment opportunity for just ers—6,000 of which are active—is daunting, and it was made possible through the help
$250 monthly and recruit from of many. PW would like to thank the following for making this report a reality: Vladi-
amongst publishersweekly.com’s mir Grigoriev, deputy head of the Federal Agency of Press and Mass Communications
for supporting our efforts; Alexandra Shipetina, v-p of Centrepolygraph (as well as v-p
400,000 monthly users.
of the Russian Book Union) for contacting major publishers and other industry players,
Your success is our success! fixing up appointments, and acting as our general minder; and Viktor Nemchinov (in
www.publishersweekly.com/jobzone Moscow) and Natalia Ivashova (in St Petersburg), interpreters par excellence.

20 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
JOBZONE_1/6.indd 1 1/20/11 5:08 PM
Books
for those
with child
inside

Meshcheryakov Publishing House


www.idmkniga.ru
Publishing in Russia 2011

print books, or around 65 rubles ($2.20).


E-books and e-libraries are gaining “Our Web site also offers old books—
which is something very Russian—and
ground amid challenges big and small out-of-print titles, including collected
works, encyclopedias, and entire librar-
ies. As long as there is interest in a spe-
cific segment,” continues Lukey, “we will
Braving the Digital Path work on turning it into an online busi-
ness.” (Lukey added an online travel
agency two years ago to meet customer
demand.) Customers have 18 payment
By Teri Tan and 14 delivery options, with shipping
anywhere in the world. “You just have to
let us know how you want to pay for it
Given that nearly 90% of Russian households are expected to and where to send it,” says Lukey.
And like its American counterpart,
have Internet access by 2012, it is easy to see why e-books, OZON.ru has also gone into e-reader pro-
online retailers, and electronic libraries are getting so much duction. Its monochrome e-ink device,
OZON Galaxy, launched in 2009 and has
attention (and investment interest) in recent years. Russian sold about 2,000 units at 9,900 rubles
publishers, fueled by the success of their U.S. counterparts, ($340) each. “We are planning to produce
over 5,000 units of the second genera-
are busy converting e-books and working with service provid- tion—which will come with an integrated
ers to put the titles online. But this being a new sector in the Wi-Fi module—with one of Russia’s larg-
est mobile operators,” adds Lukey.
Russian book market, challenges abound. Here, a few domi- Asked about the Russian publishing
nant players talk to PW about the general e-book industry, industry in general, Lukey says, “The
book market needs to grow. And there
their successes, and the challenges ahead. are two ways to go about it: add more
translated titles or venture into more
OZON.ru book sales—we believe its promising segments such as children’s
At OZON.ru the power of volume will increase signifi- and business. At the same time, publish-
the Internet has turned a cantly during the next five ers should look into developing cheaper
resource portal started by a years. The same upward versions of the same title—essentially
group of sci-fi lovers from St. trend is also expected of for- targeting the long tail. Presently, the
Petersburg in 1998 into an eign books sold through the book market is in decline with fewer new
e-commerce powerhouse. Internet.” More than 90% of titles, but prices keep going up.”
Now regarded as the Ama- all foreign titles on OZON
zon.com of Russia, it .ru are in English, imported
accounts for 50% of all from wholesalers or publish- LitRes
online book sales in the ers in the U.K. and Europe. LitRes, which boasts a catalogue of more
country. Last year, it sold 5.2 Bernard Lukey, CEO of Visitors can browse through than 45,000 Russian e-books, has effec-
OZON.ru
million copies of books (in 250,000 books, which tively become the largest digital content
print and electronic for- account for nearly 30% of the provider in the nation. “Our Web site has
mats), representing 38% of the group’s products offered online. more than 400,000 registered users and
sales. “In general,” says CEO Bernard Partnering with major publishers to about one million unique visitors per
Lukey, whose team is, naturally, paying a convert titles into e-books is standard month,” says general director Sergei
lot of attention to e-books and foreign procedure. “This conversion business is a Anuryev, whose collaboration with ser-
titles, “the online book market grows loss leader, but we have the utmost faith vice provider MintRight last June has
about 30% year-on-year, while bricks- in the future demand for e-books. The allowed the titles to be distributed to
and-mortar operations slide into negative problem for the book industry is how to global e-book sellers such as iBookstore,
territories. And despite the fact that the monetize the content and add value to Barnes & Noble, Nook, Sony, and Nokia.
e-book market is nearly insignificant— e-books,” says Lukey. E-books on OZON “It has been a very successful collabora-
representing less than 2% of total online .ru are priced around 25% to 30% of tion, but our major market is still Rus-
22 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
Publishing in Russia 2011

sia.” The 40-strong LitRes cific number of books per overseas partners include Wiley & Sons,
team provides conversion month.” Pan Stanford, Nova Science, and World
services to the publishing For now, e-piracy is a big Scientific Publishing.
community—offering 17 challenge at LitRes. The The challenge to the ELS (Electronic
e-book formats, including company has initiated about Library System) model, says Zyatitsky, is
M o b i , L R F, e P u b , a n d 10 lawsuits against various in “convincing universities that our ser-
PDF—and complete mar- parties (mostly operations vice is crucial to improving the quality
keting support. based outside of Russia) and of Russian higher education. Fortunately,
Established in 2007 as a is working to introduce President Medvedev’s endorsement of
literature resource (hence changes to Russian law per- this project has helped to promote and
the company name), LitRes taining to publishing activi- smooth the process. Naturally, there is
has witnessed the tremen- Sergei Anuryev, general ties. Going forward, Anu- some resistance to the adoption of ELS
dous changes in the Russian director of LitRes ryev’s major plans, besides and other digital innovations. The
e-book market. “Back in educating and getting more response to the call to protect copyright
2008, there was virtually no e-book mar- publishers to offer e-books, are to pro- has also been slow in certain quarters. In
ket here. It was then just a new market duce mobile apps and develop e-books fact, there were times when piracy at uni-
opportunity with a questionable future for the library market. versities and colleges was rampant and
and abstract sales volumes. Now it is a went unchecked.”
viable segment with concrete sales vol- But the biggest headache for Zyat-
umes and channels, but it is constantly DDC itsky is the emergence of various small
changing.” Not all Russian publishers Four-year-old DDC (Digital Distribu- e-libraries, mostly offering illegal con-
are releasing new titles in e-book format, tion Center) is a division within ProfMe- tent and outdated titles at very low
Anuryev cautions, “and we need to do dia, one of Russia’s largest media and prices. “We are now working with vari-
more to encourage these publishers to do entertainment companies. There, two ous government agencies and nongov-
so. Only market leaders such as Eksmo, projects take the spotlight—KnigaFund ernmental organizations to close loop-
AST, and Ripol release their front lists in (“Book Fund”) and BestKniga (“Best holes that may allow such e-library
e-books.” Book”). providers to flourish. This is an impor-
The average e-book price has also Launched in 2008, KnigaFund has tant step forward. We need to let local
increased since those early days. “But this one major goal: to develop and support and foreign partners know that the pur-
is only because we started very low, at the legal distribution of educational pose of KnigaFund is to provide legally
around 10% of the print book price. Now content via the Internet. A sizable obtained and up-to-date material for
it is up to 30%, and there is potential for investment from ProfMedia has allowed Russian universities. Our partners must
further increase—but not too fast, of it to acquire 10,000 titles in the past be assured that they hold the rights to
course.” Then there is the price difference three years. KnigaFund now counts their titles in the KnigaFund repository
between a new e-book title and an old one more than 100 universities across Russia in entirety and that it is free from piracy.
that is published, say, three years ago. and CIS (the Commonwealth of Inde- Most importantly, our students must
“The difference can be huge. For instance, pendent States, i.e., Russia and the for- have reliable and fast access to the best
a new e-book from a bestselling Russian mer republics of the Soviet Union) as its quality reference material possible to
author may sell for $8, but only $2 each subscribers. “Current subscriptions have meet their learning needs.” Just
for his old titles. It must be said that this exceeded 50,000, and we are now the recently, all 500 computer terminals at
pricing policy is in tandem with the pol- biggest and most demanded content the Russian State Library were given
icy adopted by Russian publishers.” aggregator of educational free access to KnigaFund’s
Transaction-wise, the main method is and scientific literature in e-catalogue “in a bid to pro-
pay-as-you-buy, “but there are other the region,” says general mote ELS as well as counter
models depending on our partners,” says director Sergei Zyatitsky, e-piracy.”
Anuryev. “We have subscription plans, whose team added 10 uni- Zyatitsky’s goal this year
where customers pay a monthly fee and versities to its client list in is to increase ELS subscrip-
download a specified number of titles, or the last quarter of 2010. To tions by 50% and to grow
online reading, where customers can read date, its database boasts DDC’s other verticals. “I
as many titles as they like within a cer- more than 54,000 titles, would also like to see the
tain period but are exposed to sponsored with 2,000– 5,000 new ones same increase in our online
advertisements. Then there is the loyalty added every month. Local bookstore, BestKniga, which
program, where customers with approved partners are some 80 pub- Sergei Zyatitsky, general now has around 6,000
club membership can download a spe- lishing houses, while major director of DDC e-books in various genres.” ■
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M 23
Publishing in Russia 2011

hand them down the generations. TV,


Catering to shifting reader preferences the Internet, and games have consider-
ably less impact than in the U.S. or U.K.
while adding online services and cultural Schools continue to emphasize literature,
and parents buy lots of classics, original
activities or translated. On average, every Russian
buys around five books per year. Still,
publishers bemoan the decline in read-
ing.
Bricks-and-Mortar As to where to buy books, residents
and visitors alike have plenty of choices—

Still Rules
from the “book supermarkets” to “mobile
book vans” that offer cheaply priced (but
an extremely limited range of) current
bestsellers. Just 10 minutes’ walk from
Red Square, for instance, one finds Bib-
By Teri Tan lio-Globus, one of the biggest players in
the Russian retail sector. Founded in
1957, it is one of Europe’s biggest book-
Nearly 40% of Russia’s book sales in 2009 came from inde- stores. The huge three-level building
pendent bookstores. Bookshop chains contributed around offers books, CDs, DVDs, stationery
items, and even an antique section for
20%, and only 8% were transacted online. The dependence first or limited editions, stamps, coins,
on bricks-and-mortar outlets remains unassailable even though postcards. It hosts a variety of book clubs,
including Klio (for history lovers),
bookstores outside of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and some other Young Philosophers, and Foreign Lan-
major cities (such as Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk) are poorly guage Lovers.
For a more in-depth look at the retail
stocked. sector, PW heads over to Moscow’s Dom

T
Knigi (“House of
hat is due in part to high outlets near and far. For Books”). “The last three
restocking costs when great smaller publishers, tag- years saw a significant
distances and large transporta- ging along with their big increase in demand for
tion bills are involved. And counterparts’ logistics children’s books, while
that translates into different services and bookstores in-store purchases of pro-
prices for the same book: makes perfect sense in fessional titles and litera-
cheaper in Moscow but dearer in the cost-conscious times. ture showed a definite
outer regions (where wages and dispos- As a rule, bookstores do drop,” says commercial
able income are much lower). Books are not import directly from director Natalia Yuma-
still priced quite low by global stan- overseas publishers, rely- sheva. “For the latter cat-
dards. But just like anywhere (and every- ing instead on distribu- egory, there is a swing
thing) else, book prices have risen in tors to get the books they toward online orders—a
recent times, from an average of 110 want so as to avoid deal- service that we also pro-
rubles ($3.80) in 2005 to 190 rubles ing with shipping, cus- vide in addition to our
($6.60) in 2010. toms clearance, and taxa- Natalia Yumasheva, commercial bricks-and-mortar opera-
director of Dom Knigi Moscow
Currently, the total number of retail tion. Presently, a value- tion. But when it comes
outlets is barely 30% of those existing added tax of 18% is to titles for their chil-
during Soviet times. The collapse of the imposed on imports of trade books, CDs, dren, parents still insist on seeing the
centralized distribution system had and DVDs, and 10% on “educational” book firsthand prior to purchase.” Yuma-
much to do with the dwindling number titles (the loose definition often works to s h e v a w o r k s f r o m t h e c h a i n ’s
of stores. Nowadays, big publishing the advantage of importers). 27,000-square-meter flagship store
houses that also have their fingers in the In general, Russians are serious (and (with 250,000 titles and 40,000 statio-
retail pie often have a sophisticated logis- rather conservative) readers. Parents tra- nery items) at Noyvi Arbat, the city’s
tics division to transport titles to retail ditionally build their own libraries and main shopping strip.
26 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
Publishing in Russia 2011

Knigi (no connection to the Mos- who could have imagined this coming
cow chain of the same name) was from someone who started his booksell-
established in 1919, making it the ing career with a book van about a dozen
first bookshop during Soviet years ago?) “I want Bookvoed to be the
times. It is still owned by the St. ‘third place’—that space between the
Petersburg municipal govern- house and the office—for book and cul-
ment. Visitors have access to ture lovers.” The three-level store, com-
125,000 titles, 20% of which are plete with ramps for wheelchair access,
fiction and literature. Housed in boasts specially commissioned piped-in
the century-old Singer Building music (“representing diverse world cul-
(complete with a covered court- tures”), an art school (“for adults to learn
yard and allegorical sculptures), how to paint”), multiple computer
Irina Magracheva (left) and Liubov Paskhina of Dom the store boasts 20,000 visitors a kiosks (“to help pinpoint book loca-
Knigi St Petersburg day and holds various author sign- tions”), and a coffee bar.
ings and presentations. “Our store “We have large shops, or supermar-
Still state-owned, the chain has 42 is not just a place for people to buy books. kets, smaller ones, and a book club.
stores in Moscow and is becoming much It is a cultural meeting point where con- There is also the online store, where visi-
more consumer-driven in recent years. tent creators and buyers interact and tors have exceeded 20,000 per week,”
“Muscovites are very keen to learn Eng- exchange ideas,” says general director says Kotov, whose team organizes about
lish, and for the past 10 years Raymond Liubov Paskhina. 150 cultural events every month.
Murphy’s grammar books from Cam- Here, too, the demand for English lan- “Growth is expected to hit 20% this year.
bridge University Press, for instance, are guage titles has risen significantly. In Our focus is on further strengthening our
very popular,” Yumasheva says. “English fact, Paskhina and commercial director brand. Based on our surveys, 65% of
language books—specifically travel Irina Magracheva imported 1,000 copies respondents have spontaneous knowl-
books and fiction—are taking up more of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows edge of Bookvoed, of which 90% have
space on our shelves. So too are books on directly from the U.K. publisher when visited at least one Bookvoed outlet.”
architecture, design, and art.” During the English edition was launched. “There Since its first store opened in 2000,
PW’s visit in December, the store’s best- are plenty of English schools in St. Bookvoed has expanded at a frenetic
sellers were Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, Petersburg, and children want to read in pace: it now has 50 outlets, 42 in St.
Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, Meyer’s English, especially global bestsellers like Petersburg alone. Part of the Novy Kni-
Twilight series, Lewis’s Chronicles of Nar- Potter,” adds Paskhina, who dreams of zhny Bukvoed bookstore chain—cur-
nia, and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s having a bookstore like the seven-story rently the largest in Russia and the CIS
Diary—driven largely by the arrival of Shanghai Book City, where there is space with 200 stores—it is managed by
their screen adaptations. “We may be to display each book face out. “The major Eksmo, which owns 60% of the business.
quite a distance away, but we are not challenge to any bookstore is the Inter- Besides those mentioned above, there
immune to U.S. influence in terms of net. The younger generation prefers to are Top Kniga, based in Novosibirsk;
blockbusters.” download books and Bukva, owned by
Yumasheva also notes that there are read on iPads or other AST; and Molodaya
few local authors writing for 10- to e-book devices. How Gvardiya, Moskva,
15-year-olds, which requires publishers the publishing indus- and Respublica
to import or translate titles for these try deals with the among the more
readers. “Meanwhile, the lack of informa- Internet and e-books popular and better-
tion on published and upcoming titles— will determine the stocked stores. The
or launch schedules—is a major issue. direction we take in challenge for these
Such a database would help us better the near future.” companies—and
plan our promotional campaigns and A few blocks away, those operating in
allocate adequate space to highlight the general director any corner of the
new titles. That in turn would help push Denis Kotov of globe—is to survive
sales and make everybody—us, pub- Bookvoed (“Alpha- the economic down-
lisher, and author—happy.” Still, sales at bet Eater”) is chang- turn and find a way
this store come to around 25 million cop- ing the traditional to deal with the
ies per annum. bookstore concept Denis Kotov, general director of Bookvoed, declining reading
Eight hundred kilometers away, at into “a park of culture with one store bestseller, Russia After the habit and emerging
Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg, Dom and reading.” (And Global Economic Crisis e-book market.  ■
28 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
Publishing in Russia 2011

Harrison—whose contracts for all his


Tips on what kinds of titles will work and works are renewed for Eksmo every three
years—and Wiley author Joe Vitale.”
contract dos and don’ts Based on these titles, one can say that AK
Agency has three main segments: fiction
(covering sci-fi, fantasy, and horror),

On Rights and Book-


business titles (mostly from Wiley), and
highly illustrated crafts, cooking, and
DIY titles. These segments contribute

Scouting around 25%, 30%, and 25%, respec-


tively, to the agency’s overall business.
American detective novels do not fetch
very high figures, he notes, because those
by Russian authors have become much
By Teri Tan more popular in recent years. As for what
kinds of titles are currently hot with
Russian publishers, Korzhenevski says,
Translations account for about 12% of all titles published in “We are talking about polar opposites
Russia in 2010. Here, as in other corners of the world, Amer- here. Books on vampires are hot. So are
self-help books on happiness, well-being,
ican and British blockbusters are translated and almost guar- and personal success—especially some-
anteed top slots on the bestseller list. Names like J.K. Rowl- thing like ‘How to make millions while
doing nothing for five minutes a day.’ ”
ing, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, Nora Rob- For Andrew Nurnberg of the epony-
erts, Stephenie Meyer, and John Grisham are no strangers in mous rights agency based in the U.K.,
“2010 was our best year to-date, both in
Russia. the number of deals and monies earned

A
for our clients. After a dip a few years ago,
t Alexander Korzhenevski has seen “the average advances and royal- reflecting the preference for local authors,
Agency, the first three ties going up even as print runs are com- who are obviously much easier to pro-
months of 2011 saw several ing down. The global economic crisis mote, our sales of foreign fiction and non-
big deals, including Rango: does not help, of course, and we are doing fiction have increased dramatically.” His
The Movie Storybook, Real-Time fewer deals compared to 2007 or 2008. Moscow branch, established in 1993 and
Marketing and PR, Architect, Some midsize publishers now buy just a headed by Ludmilla Sushkova, recently
and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. few titles per year, while some do not buy handled John Irving’s Until I Find You
The latter is very special to agency owner anything new at all. However, I’m confi- (sold to Eksmo), Fannie Flagg’s I Still
and founder Alexander Korzhenevski dent that things will change for the bet- Dream About You (Phantom), Chuck
because it was the first time he had an ter soon.” Among the big titles signed by Palahniuk’s complete works (AST), and
auction for a short story anthology. “If the his agency were Robert Goolrick’s A Sam Kashner’s Furious Love (Slovo). Sush-
first three months is any Reliable Wife; Robert kova has also sold a wide range of writing,
indication, we are defi- McCammon’s The Five; a from commercial fiction such as Jean
nitely looking at more Wiley textbook, Business Kwok’s Girl in Translation and Simon
deals for print and digital Model Generation, and Lelic’s Rupture to literary fiction by Coe,
rights as well as higher another Wiley title, Doctorow, Ishiguro, McEwan, and
advances this year,” he House and Philosophy; and Murakami. “YA titles have also seen a big
says. Currently, 70% of Eric Mayost’s Spectacular growth in demand,” says Nurnberg, not-
his business comes from Hair. “House and Philoso- ing that some Russian publishers are
American publishers and phy generated huge royal- catching up on various 20th-century clas-
literary agencies, and his ties, while the other four sics that were not published during Soviet
focus is on selling British went through pretty times. “Nonfiction has gained a greater
and American titles to intense auctions result- following, and art books—some quite
Russia. ing in very good expensive—are enjoying good sales.”
Over the past three to Alexander Korzhenevski, owner advances. We also han- His London office, meanwhile, repre-
five years, Korzhenevski and founder of AK Agency dled sci-fi author Harry sents classic and contemporary Russian
30 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
Publishing in Russia 2011

authors such as Mikhail Bulgakov, books from the U.S., would fit into a publish-
Vassily Grossman, Sergei Lukyanenko U.K., and Italy is a major er’s portfolio, how trans-
(Nightwatch fantasy series), and the first part of his job. “In today’s latable it is, and if for-
president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin. “It has fast-paced book industry, eign readers would
been most rewarding to see Grossman’s it is crucial for foreign understand or enjoy it.
Life and Fate becoming a bestseller in publishers to get informa- Being a scout is a little
various countries, and to know that BBC tion as early as possible on like being a translator—
will dedicate two weeks of radio this titles that are attracting and I used to translate
coming autumn to the author’s oeuvre.” more attention within the English novels into Ital-
As to what works in Russia, Nurnberg publishing circle. This ian—in that you need to
says, “We have sold an increasing num- way, the publisher can know if a book can cross
ber of nonfiction titles on philosophy, buy the rights before their cultural barriers and
business, religion, and popular science, domestic counterparts would work for a specific
as well as anything and everything on snatch them. I also keep country. So it is crucial to
self-improvement, over the past five C e n t r e p o l y g r a p h Simone Garzella, owner of the get as much information
years. In this respect, Russian publishers informed of the latest eponymous book-scouting agency, as possible on what a
are now very much in line with what bestsellers and titles that with the cover of Dewey market likes and does not
Western publishers are producing so suc- are getting more press like, which topics are hot
cessfully. We should bear in mind, of coverage.” Garzella also scouts for other and which taboo.” Not surprisingly, Gar-
course, that Russia has its own authors in publishers such as Arab Scientific Pub- zella hopes that “someone would write a
many of these fields.” But fiction, which lishers (Lebanon), Constable & Robinson book on understanding a country by
has been the most reliable of genres for (U.K.), Euromedia (Czech Republic), looking at books that their publishers are
many years, has seen a drop recently. “A Giunti (Italy), Murdoch Books (Austra- translating or not translating.”
major bookseller has just decided to sys- lia), and Pensamento (Brazil), as well as a
tematically reduce its purchase of fiction, Hollywood production company looking
as well as the floor space devoted to it, by for potential titles for screen adaptation. Contracts
15% starting next month due to lower One of the first projects Garzella What does a publisher (or rights agency)
demand from the reading public.” brought to Centrepolygraph was Vicki need to look out for before signing on the
Russian publishers have had a big Myron’s Dewey: The Small Town Library dotted line? First and foremost, it is cru-
learning curve, notes Nurnberg, “because Cat. “This book did very well in the U.S. cial to confirm and state clearly the ter-
the Western way of remunerating authors and many other countries because people ritory covered in the contract. Is it for the
was unheard of until the early 1990s. had already heard about the story of a cat Russian Federation only, or does it
They now know that they need to pro- that lived in a public library. But to turn include the CIS? It is advisable to restrict
duce payments and regular royalty state- it into a bestseller in Russia—as Cen- the contract to Russian language only,
ments to authors, but many of the reports trepolygraph did—where people had no and not to include CIS countries. But one
we receive are still sorely lacking.” On idea about the story was definitely a big for world Russian language rights is
the other hand, the challenge in getting challenge and an accomplishment,” says definitely feasible since there is a sizable
Russian authors “heard” outside of the Garzella, who started working with the market for Russian émigrés. Now that
borders, he says, “has a lot to do with Russian publishing house in September more Russian publishers are setting up
providing quality reading material or 2009. “I was more focused on nonfiction editorial offices in Minsk, Belarus; Kiev,
outlines in good English. You can count titles in the beginning. But now I’m see- Ukraine; or Astana, Kazakhstan, a differ-
on one hand the number of Russian- ing a growing interest from Russian ent contract should be made for each
speaking editors in the English-language readers in literary fiction. In general, local language, such as Belarusian,
publishing community, and those that according to feedback from Russian edi- Ukrainian, Kazakh, and so on.
do not read Russian rely on readers’ tors, U.K. books work better in Russia Royalties, it should be noted, are based
reports—but that is never the same to than U.S. titles. There is also a growing on what is called “publisher’s price.”
editors as reading the book themselves. interest in YA titles, especially dystopias, Explains Nurnberg, “This is close to
So more exposure of Russian authors and, postapocalyptic stories, and fantasy nov- what is known as wholesale price in other
of course, one truly great success story els with crossover potentials. U.S. influ- markets. Anyone contemplating a con-
outside of Russia will help bring their ence, both in the book and movie indus- tract in Russia should ask what the pub-
literature to the U.K. and other major tries, clearly plays a major part in this.” lisher’s price is expected to be, and also
territories.” Working closely with editors is a must what the publisher expects the average
For book scout Simone Garzella, for a scout, says Garzella, “because I must retail price to be. Since there is no fixed
keeping Centrepolygraph abreast of new know if a particular book or author retail price, there would not be any firm
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M 31
Publishing in Russia 2011

answer, but you will at least get a ball- rural regions may see costly transporta- government on noneducational books
park figure.” Retail prices are often set tion fees reflected in the final selling appears in the contract. It may become a
based on location and purchasing power. price. cost transfer (if you will) and deducted
As a rule, the wealthier residents of Mos- At present, rights contracts are usually from the rights fees later. As always, read
cow and St. Petersburg may see pricier in either U.S. dollars or euros. Check to the fine print, and the transaction should
tags on their books, while those living in see if the 18% VAT levied by the Russian go smoother for all parties involved.  ■

In the past four months, several translated Russian titles have Denis Osokin
Watch out for contemporary Russian authors

been reviewed in PW. On the fiction side, there were Alexey His novella Yellowhammers has been turned into an award-
Pehov’s Shadow Chaser: Book Two of the Chronicles of Siala, winning film—known as Silent Souls outside of Russia—and
Ludmila Ulitskaya’s Daniel Stein, Interpreter, and Vladimir won him the White Elephant award for best script. But way
Sorokin’s Day of the Oprichnik. For nonfiction, Lev Loseff’s before that, in 2001, Osokin won the Debut Prize for a short
Joseph Brodsky: A Literary Life and Sofia Tolstoy’s The Dia- story, “Angels & Revolution: Vyatka 1923.” Osokin is known
ries of Sofia Tolstoy both earned starred reviews. One title for his documentaries on the culture and traditions of the peo-
from Leo Tolstoy, The Gospel in Brief: The Life of Jesus, was ple in the Volga region.
also reviewed in the religion segment.
As always, award-winning titles (or authors) get the most Viktor Pelevin
attention. For new voices, the best hope is for the translation Known for satire-rich fantasy novels, Pelevin won the Readers’
to win an award or for a foreign edition to catch the attention Choice Award and the third prize at the Big Book Award for
of a literary agency in the U.K. or U.S. his novel T last year. His short story collection The Blue Lan-
So who are the big Russian names that we should know and tern won the 1993 Russian Little Booker Prize. His eccentric-
read? With the help of several publishers, PW picks eight ity (including shying away from the media) is clearly reflected
Russian authors—in alphabetical order—to represent this new in the inscription to his novel Babylon: “Any thought that
crop of talents. occurs in the process of reading this book is subject to copy-
right. Unauthorized thinking of it is prohibited.”
Boris Akunin
Winner of the Anti-Booker Prize and Writer of the Year award Olga Slavnikova
in 2000, Akunin is the king of detective fiction, specializing Her novel 2017 won the Russian Booker Prize in 2006 and
in the time of imperial Russia. His best-known series are the was translated into English last year. She is also the director
Adventures of Erast Fandorin, the Adventures of Sister Pelagia for the Debut Prize, an independent literary prize for young
and the Adventures of the Master. In total, his books are now authors under 25 writing in Russian. Immortal, her third
available in 35 languages with 25 million copies sold. The novel, won the Apollon Grigoriev Prize in 2001 and was
English remake of the movie based on his book The Winter shortlisted for both the Belkin Prize and National Bestseller
Queen is scheduled for release next year. Prize. It is currently available only in French and German
translations.
Polina Dashkova
Known as the queen of Russian crime fiction in Germany, her Ludmila Ulitskaya
titles are also very popular in France, the Netherlands, and Daniel Stein, Interpreter is Ulitskaya’s fourth book to be
Spain. More than 40 million copies of her novels have been translated into English. Altogether, she has written 14 novels,
sold in Russia, and 300,000 in Germany. Targeted at female several children’s stories, and many plays. Her collection of
readers, her novels contain plots set in contemporary Russia awards includes the Russian Booker (2001) for Kukotsky’s
that revolve around the average Russian woman. Case and the Big Book Prize (2007) for Daniel Stein, with
nominations for the International Booker Prize in 2009.
Sergei Lukyanenko
The biggest name in Russia’s contemporary sci-fi/fantasy Tatiana Ustinova
genre, Lukyanenko got the attention of the English-speaking Billed as the third most read writer in Russia with more than
world only after the movie release of Night Watch in 2004. In 30 million copies in print, Ustinova has been translated into
Russia, the movie grossed over $16 million and was consid- several European languages. Her novels, about 30 of them,
ered a blockbuster at the time. Two years later, another movie, combine detective work, brutal crimes, comedy, and love sto-
Day Watch, was released. The Watch tetralogy was duly ries—sort of Tess Gerritsen meets Nora Roberts meets Janet
translated into English and has sold more than two million Evanovich. About 15 of her novels have been adapted into fea-
copies. ture films.

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