Anda di halaman 1dari 36
W E E K L Y ® P U B L I S H E
W E E K L Y ®
W E E K L Y ®


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


P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

2 0 1 1

Broadening its presence abroad while transforming its domestic infrastructure

The Dynamic Russian Book Market

By Teri Tan

Broadening its presence abroad while transforming its domestic infrastructure The Dynamic Russian Book Market By Teri

Talk about transformation. In a span of 20 years, the Russian book market has made a 180-degree shift, from state-owned publishing and distribution to privately held (except for a few exceptions) and increasingly client driven. Every component of its book market was created overnight, after state-owned publishing and the infrastructure supporting distribution and retailing collapsed.

are concentrated in two cities: Moscow and St. Petersburg. One can easily meet 85% of the industry players just in Mos- 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 whole lifespan of a title and indicates

the success of a title (or author). Publish- ers usually do not keep any inventory, 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 children’s books are more common than those in paperback. There lies the snob appeal, as paperbacks are perceived to cater for the lower-income brackets. These unique characteristics have pro- duced some challenges along with oppor- tunities within the industry. And no one knows better, or can offer clearer observa- tions, than the insiders. Andrew Nurnberg, of the eponymous rights agency (the first to set up shop in Moscow), says, “Smaller publishers have been having a tough time trying to keep ahead of the game, not least because the large companies have deep pockets when it comes to author advances. Yet some of these publishers, by virtue of having a smaller output, have been able to invest time, energy, and marketing resources to good effect. For example, they have begun to invite international authors to Russia for promo- tional tours. The quality of their translations is improving, as are jacket designs and overall pro- duction. But the Russian pub-

designs and overall pro- duction. But the Russian pub- On display at Moscow Dom Knigi are

On display at Moscow Dom Knigi are translated titles including Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Mary Higgins Clark’s I

Heard That Song Before, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed.

vices and online distribution. These ser- vices are in turn offered to smaller pub- lishers. It is also worth noting that, for a coun- try so vast, publishing and distribution

S uch transformation has resulted in sev- eral characteristics unique to the mar- ket. For instance, one will find huge

publishing conglomerates pro- ducing a staggering number of publications in a single day. Eksmo and AST, the two behe- moths that control nearly 45% of the market, have published more than 600 titles per month in recent years—something that is unheard of in the rest of the world. Big publishers have also

integrated vertical chains that may include wholesaling, bricks-and- mortar bookselling, online retailing, and digital content aggregation. Growth in the e-book segment, meanwhile, has some branching out into digitization ser-

lishing industry is suffering from poor distribution—in fact,

some distributors even got into financial difficulties—as well as from high production costs and low retail prices. Russian readers, how- ever, have been privileged to be able to buy cheap books, and it is a true pleasure to see bookshops filled with readers pur- chasing five or six books at a time.”

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

2 0 1 1

Sergey Kondratov, publishing veteran and chairman of Terra Publishing, laments the limited range of works by contemporary Russian authors and poets. He also says, “There are few pro- fessional houses capable of producing high-quality titles. Currently, many publishers are focusing on the children’s segment, but many titles are hastily put together, duplicated and offered in doz- ens of versions, and there are few illus- trated editions for teenage readers.” (Incidentally, professionalism in pub- lishing is the goal of the Printing Arts department of Moscow State University. The rector, Professor Alexander Tsy- ganenko, launched the country’s first master’s degree in publishing in partner- ship with Oxford Brookes University last year.) E-books and online bookstores, Kon- dratov adds, “are the modern facets of the book industry, and both have been hap- pening in Russia for quite some time. But despite this fervor for digital titles, libraries—no matter how technologi- cally advanced—should continue to stock print books.” Victor Fedorov, pres- ident of the Russian State Library—the third largest in the world with 43 mil- lion items—shares that sentiment. He and his team have continued to archive print titles and expand the collection while digitizing selected collections and working with Google Books. Foreign publishers’ reluctance to include digital rights in the contract is a problem faced by many, not least CEO Arkady Vitrouk of Azbooka-Atticus, where translations have enjoyed big suc- cess. “This arises primarily because for- eign publishers find it very difficult to set the price for digital rights for our market. Consequently, many titles quickly became available in digital for- mat through pirate Web sites after we release the print edition. It is ironic because this confirms that the demand for e-books is there, and unless we offer a reasonably priced supply, we cannot stop—or at least reduce—digital piracy.” At the same time, he bemoans the low e-book prices in the Russian market. “In a way, it destroys good content. Pricing,

2 P U B L I S H E R S



I believe, should be commensurate with

the quality of a book. There is a definite need for some adjustment in the e-book market.” In view of the need to close the loop- holes, encourage reading, and promote Russian literature abroad, several organi- zations have been hard at work to push that agenda. The most important and aggressive is the Federal Agency of Press and Mass Communications (FAPMC). It is respon- sible for implementing new technolo- gies, promoting reading, and providing

a regulatory framework for the industry.

Its goals are also to promote Russian lit- erature and forge closer links with the rest of the publishing world. Deputy head Vladimir Grigoriev, one of the founders of the prestigious Russian Big Book Prize, is a key driver in the cam- paign to put Russia on the global pub- lishing map because, as he has said, “Russian literature should know no boundaries.” Next comes the Russian Book Union (RBU). It represents the whole book community, encompassing the publish- ing, printing, library, and educational sectors. Keeping its 200 full (and 1,500 associate) members abreast of develop- ments pertinent to the industry is the organization’s main focus. Less known but no less important is RBU’s relief pro- gram to help provincial bookstores cope with high rents and competition from

retail chains that are selling more profit- able goods. Last year, RBU, with support from FAPMC, managed to per- suade the customs depart- ment to maintain tax relief on imported paper meant for the book pub- lishing industry. Promotion of Russian literature abroad is not yet on RBU’s agenda, but it is working on more events to promote coop- eration between Russia and the international

publishing community. “Since our national best-

sellers hit millions of copies, while for- eign titles make up less than 13% of all titles published in 2010, we fully expect to see increased rights activity with the West and Asia in the near future,” adds v-p Alexandra Shipetina (also v-p of Centrepolygraph), who will be traveling to the Beijing Interna- tional B ook Fair this August with other RBU delegates, and working on events for the 2012 BookExpo Amer- ica. Meanwhile, government funds for reading promotions and antipiracy campaigns are on their way to RBU. The seven-year-old Mikhail Prokho- rov Foundation is a privately funded organization aggressively promoting contemporary Russian literature and thought to the world. Irina Prokho- rova, cofounder and chairperson of the expert board (as well as publisher/edi- tor of NLO, or New Literary Observer), says, “Our Transcript program is an international grant competition, in which we provide translation sup- port—in any foreign language—for Russian fiction and nonfiction titles.” Among the 31 authors supported by Transcript last year were Victor Zhi- vov (Languages and Culture in Russia in the 18th Century ), V. Voinovich ( The Displaced Person), and Leo Klein (The Phenomenon of Soviet Archaeology). Tran- script, launched two years ago with a budget of $400,000 annually, accepts applications year-round. So far, more than 530 have been processed, of which 102 have been granted. “Selections are made four times a year with the final decision based on four main crite- ria: total rights fee and translation cost, quality of translation, impor- tance of the author or title, and publisher’s reputation.” The foundation also established the NOSE (New Prose) literary prize in honor of 19th-century

novelist Nikolai Gogol on the 200th anniversary of

novelist Nikolai Gogol on the 200th anniversary of Alexandra Shipetina, v-p of the Russian Book Union

Alexandra Shipetina, v-p of the

Russian Book Union (as well as v-p of Centrepolygraph)

4 ,

2 0 1 1

Debut books are published by GLAS, a continuing series of contemporary Russian writing in English
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.
Ordering information:
UK: Central Books/Inpress
UUSA: Consortium Book Sales and Distribution

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

2 0 1 1

his birth. The abbreviation is also the name of Gogol’s most famous novella. Last year’s winner, Vladimir Sorokin (for Snowstorm), has long been considered a leading contemporary Russian writer. He has two other books available in Eng- lish: The Queue and Ice. As for the foundation’s focus on the Krasnoyarsk region, Prokhorova explains, “This region is often called ‘miniature Russia,’ because its economic, demographic, and sociocultural charac- teristics are highly representative of the whole country. Launching our activities there is in line with our regional/local approach. In the past three years, by leveraging our Krasnoyarsk know-how, we have rapidly expanded our activities to the Ural, far eastern, and central regions. We are set to introduce more contemporary Russian voices to readers around the world.” Another organization—a fixture at major book events—is Academia Ros-

Two friends. One Jar. The Universe’s DNA. What could possibly go wrong?

FINDERS KEEPERS A novel by Russ Colchamiro
A novel by Russ Colchamiro

A strong debut from a very imaginative writer.” —Publishers Weekly

3 Finger Prints:

3 Finger Prints Publishing 2010


$13.99 USA


ISBN: 978-0-9794801-4-0

4 P U B L I S H E R S



sica, which is focused on promoting cultural and intellectual links between Russia and the English- speaking world. “After three successful years of

p r e s e n t i n g R u s s i a n authors at the Books from Russia stand at London Book Fair and BEA, Aca- demia Rossica and the

Russian Federal Agency for Mass Communication have launched a two-year programme,” says Academia director Svetlana Adjoubei, “promoting contemporary Russia lit-

erature in the English-speaking world. Beginning with the Russia Market Focus at the London Book Fair, the programme continues with the Global Market Forum: Russia at the 2012 Book Expo America.” This programme

is supported by the launch of the trans-

lation grants provided by the Russkiy Mir Foundation and coordinated by Academia Rossica. “Our organization facilitates rela- tionships between writers, literary agents, publishers and translators,” Adjoubei continues. “The translation grant, for instance, is another way of encouraging publishers to translate Russian works. Information about Russian writers and agents, sample translations, and a selection of Russian titles in various languages will be available from the Russian stand. “British and American readers mostly know 19th-century classic Russian writ- ers, maybe a handful of those from the 20th century, but at most one or two contemporary writers. Our aim is to present the range of contemporary Rus- sian literature, including detective sto- ries, thrillers, sci-fi, biographies, and historical fiction. This is a unique oppor- tunity for the English-speaking world to meet such bestselling novelists as Boris Akunin, Polina Dashkova, Dmitry Glukhovsky, Sergei Kostin, Sergey Lukyanenko, and Anna Storabinets who are shaping Russia’s contemporary cul- ture. We hope that our programme at the London Book Fair and BEA will be

that our programme at the London Book Fair and BEA will be Svetlana Adjoubei, director of

Svetlana Adjoubei, director of

Academia Rossica

a springboard for con-

temporary Russian litera- ture to reach a new level

of popularity.”

The government is also stepping up its efforts in copyright pro- tection. One area of con- tention is the issue of public domain. One

landmark case occurred last June when AST was ordered to compensate Terra Publish- ing 7.6 billion rubles ($250 million). The author at the center of the legal wrangle is a Russian household name:

sci-fi novelist Alexander Belyaev. Though the author died in 1942, his works (under the Berne Convention’s stipulation of life plus 70 years) have not entered the public domain. Terra obtained permission from the author’s daughter to produce 630 sets of a six- volume deluxe edition priced at $3,800. AST, using post-Berne terms (life plus 50 years), published 30,000 copies of the author’s collected works on the premise that the content is in the public domain. AST is appealing the judgment. Challenges and loopholes aside, there is one message from many industry play-

ers for their overseas counterparts, either clearly communicated or subtly con- veyed to PW during our visit for this report: given the new face of the Russian book industry, it is high time for the world to move on from Tolstoy, Dos- toyevski, and Chekhov (no offense intended) to newer, fresher voices. As such, visiting the St. Petersburg Book Fair (in April), Moscow Book Fair (August), and Non/Fiction Fair (Decem- ber) or stopping at the Russian book stand at the 2011 London Book Fair or 2012 Book Expo America should be on the itinerary of any publisher or rights agency wanting a better understanding of the Russian publishing industry and its players. Now let us start our journey to uncover new collaborators, authors, and opportunities in the largest coun-

try in the world.

4 ,

2 0 1 1

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

Exploring opportunities in rights exports and e-books while busy adding translations to originals

A Young (and Very Ambitious) Group of Publishers

By Teri Tan

The current crop of Russian publishers is collectively on the young side, many of them born shortly before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Then, teething problems were many and the growth path rocky at times. But today these publishers produce nearly 120,000 new titles per year, placing Russia firmly in the #4 slot in global ranking (after China, U.S., and U.K.) in terms of output.

N o one sums up the industry today better than Natasha Perova, publisher and founder of GLAS: “Pulp fic- tion triumphs over literary fiction—in Russia and else-

of banned titles. Unfortunately, new writ- ers had little chance of being noticed in this influx. But since the 2000s, Russians have started to take more interest in internal affairs, and the wild capitalism ride offers a lot of content for fiction. The time has finally come for new voices to be heard. Those writing in the early 1990s have managed to get their works pub- lished in the early 2000s and are gradu- ally becoming known here and abroad.” Let’s get a closer look at the industry through the operations of 14 publishers (in alphabetical order).


where. Tolstoy and Dostoyevski would have a tough time getting published today—they might not even win the Booker or other major prizes. While the current Russian publishing scene is a far cry from what it used to be during the Soviet era, it is nowhere as developed as in the West. The distribution system, for instance, collapsed with the demise of state-owned publishing, and it hasn’t been restored to this day. “Back in the early 1990s, after censor- ship was lifted, people rushed to catch up with world literature, resulting in a frenzy of translation and also publication

The third largest publisher in Russia with around 5% of the market, Azbooka- Atticus holds exclusive rights to such authors as Janus Leon Wisniewski, Milan

2 0 1 1

Kundera, Richard Yates, Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa, Marc Levy, Cecelia Ahern, Ben Elton, Lemony Snicket, Tove Jansson, and many others. It publishes about 1,200 titles per year, and in 2010 translations accounted for nearly 44% of its catalogue. The high percentage of translations, explains Maxim Kryutchenko, founder of Azbooka, is because “we are eager to provide Russian readers with a wide range of foreign titles. When this com- pany was founded, the intention was to get Russian readers acquainted with 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- 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- inals. For instance, we have sold millions of copies of works by Sergey Dovlatov, Joseph Brodsky, and Vladimir Nabo- kov—authors who have been translated into English and are doing very well in other countries. But it is quite difficult to uncover new Russian authors with high overseas potential.” CEO Arkady Vitrouk shares Kryu- tchenko’s opinion of contemporary orig- inals: “Russians are only now beginning to review what happened during the per- estroika period—a painful time for many—and the emotions and sentiments in books on this period may not carry easily across borders. Selling them, much as I would like to, will be difficult.” Vit- rouk is busy promoting several authors

be difficult.” Vit- rouk is busy promoting several authors Arkady Vitrouk, CEO of Azbooka-Atticus W W

Arkady Vitrouk, CEO of Azbooka-Atticus

P u b l i s h i n g i n R u s
P u b l i s h i n g
i n
R u s s i a
2 0 1 1
including Yevgeny Grishkovetz. “His
titles invariably sell more than 100,000
copies each, and they have been trans-
lated into German, French, and Norwe-
gian. Japanese and English are next, I
hope.” At the upcoming London Book
Fair, he will present Leonid Parfenov, a
television personality and author of a
series of books on the Soviet Union, and
Denis Osokin, who is famed for short
stories. “One of Osokin’s stories, ‘Silent
Souls,’ was made into a movie that was
subsequently nominated for the Grand
Prix at the 2010 Venice Film Festival.
Academia Rossica is set to show the
movie prior to the book fair.”
In the children’s segment, Azbooka-
Atticus boasts names like writer Anton
Soya (famed for Emo Boy), illustrator
Anton Lomayev, and paper engineer
Nikolai Nemzer. The present children’s
book segment in Russia, says Vitrouk,
“can be summarized in one word: prolif-
eration. Basically, every Russian pub-
lisher—and that includes us—produces
some children’s titles. Although the seg-
ment has not grown that much, the sup-
ply has certainly broadened a lot. Now
one can find children’s books for any
taste, from Soviet classics to avant-garde
European picture books, creative pop-
ups and novelty titles. At the same time,
consumers are becoming more picky,
paying more attention to the content
before making the purchase.”
Top 15 publishers in 2010
(by title and number of copies)
Title output
Total no. of copies
(in thousands)
1 Eksmo
3 Prosveshcheniye
4 Drofa
5 Azbooka-Atticus
6 Ekzamen
OLMA Media Group
7 Rosman
8 OLMA Media Group
Ripol Classic
9 Ripol Classic
10 Ventana-Graf
11 Mir Knigi
12 Centrepolygraph
13 Veche
Mir Knigi
14 Piter
15 Fenix
of merchandise from Disney, Sanrio, Fox,
Warner Brothers, Hasbro, Mattel, DC
Comics, and others.
According to president Oleg Bartenev,
“There is an urgent need to work with our
foreign publishing partners to obtain
digital rights for titles licensed to us. This
is one way to reduce piracy of e-titles.
Given that around 30% of published titles
will migrate to e-book format, it is critical
to close loopholes that allow piracy to hap-
pen. For AST, the plan is to retain our
market share—currently estimated at
20% of the industry—in the traditional
format while using more sophisticated
designs and printing methods to discour-
age illegal scanning of our titles.”
Given that AST prints at least 60% of
its titles at two wholly owned facilities,
the plan is definitely achievable. “At the
same time,” Bartenev continues, “con-
tent and design for print books must go
a notch—or a few notches—higher to
compete with other media out there.
Take fashion magazines as an example.
They didn’t die because of sophisticated
televisions or the availability of fashion
channels. They get more design based
and content oriented to compete. For the
book industry, I would cite Dorling
Kindersley, one of our publishing part-
ners, for setting the standards in merging
content and creativity.” For the foresee-
able future, AST (derived from the first
letter of three of the directors’ names:
From its humble beginning as a book-
shop in 1990, AST has produced nearly
33,000 titles within the span of 22 years.
It often vies with Eksmo for top billing
as Russia’s biggest publisher. Around
30% of its list is translated, and it reads
like a who’s who of the fiction world: Ste-
phen King, Stephenie Meyer, John
Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Nicholas
Sparks, Paulo Coelho, and Wilbur Smith.
Homegrown talents are not few either,
and these include Boris Akunin, Pavel
Basinsky, Edward Radzinsky, Sergei
Lukyanenko, Dmitry Glukhovsky, and
Polina Dashkova. On the children’s side,
various licenses have resulted in a range
Oleg Bartenev, president of AST
Andrei, Sergei, Tatiana; Oleg and Igoz
are the other directors) aims to cover
every book segment. Its 800 editors,
divided into 40 teams, also work with
big magazine brands such as National
Geographic and DeAgostini.
With more than 330 stores within its
Bukva chain (“with plans to add 50 shops
annually”), AST has also made huge
injections (to the tune of $50 million)
into ailing retail giant Top Kniga. “They
account for 40% of our sales, and we sim-
ply cannot afford to see such a vast dis-
tribution network collapse. It would be
catastrophic for the whole Russian book
industry.” Bartenev is also trying to read
further into the nation’s changing demo-

6 P U B L I S H E R S



4 ,

2 0 1 1

We offer: – Full or partial payment of the rights; – Full or partial financing
We offer: – Full or partial payment of the rights; – Full or partial financing
We offer: – Full or partial payment of the rights; – Full or partial financing
We offer: – Full or partial payment of the rights; – Full or partial financing
We offer: – Full or partial payment of the rights; – Full or partial financing
We offer: – Full or partial payment of the rights; – Full or partial financing
We offer:
Full or partial payment of the rights;
Full or partial financing of translation
Partial support of printing costs
for non-fiction books.
For your information:

The Transcript program supports the translation from Russian into any foreign language;

Applications are accepted year round and decision is made four times a year (January 31, April 30, July 31, and October 31);

Publishers may apply for a grant before they have signed a contract with the rights holder.

before they have signed a contract with the rights holder. is an international grant competition launched

is an international grant competition launched in 2009 by the Mikhail Prokhorov Fund, a private charitable foundation, to promote contemporary Russian literature and thought throughout the world.

We provide translation support for:

Russian non-fiction (history, philosophy, political, social and cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, interdisciplinary studies, etc.);

Russian fiction (prose, poetry and drama, including children’s literature).

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

graphics. “The 1 to 10 age group is esti- mated to be thrice the size of the 17 to 25 group. There is going to be tremen- dous pressure on kindergartens and pri- mary schools, and this represents a big opportunity for the children’s book and merchandise segment. But instilling the reading habit in the young would require nationwide support and promotional effort—something the Russian Book Union and various governmental agen- cies are undertaking.”


This has been the Russian home of Har- lequin for the past 16 months. The pop- ularity of such Harlequin authors as Nora Roberts, Tess Gerritsen, and Deb- bie Macomber is making Centrepoly- graph’s latest publishing program a run- away success. At least 172 Harlequin titles have been translated since the deal was sealed by v-p Alexandra Shipetina. “Laying the groundwork was tedious as we had to relook at our whole operation prior to signing the agreement,” she says. “We expanded our sales channels, put in a new editorial team, created a special Web site to promote the line, and ramped up our marketing team for this.” Recently, the contract was amended to cover digital rights, and her team are now busy working with LitRes, Russia’s biggest digital bookstore and content aggregator, to have the titles converted into e-books and prepared for downloads. “Names like Nora Roberts are highly recognizable and enthusiastically accepted by the market,” says Shipetina, “but it needs more time to know new authors such as Macomber, for whom we have to make additional promotional effort and learn to be patient. We are translating one author at a time while planning a focused marketing campaign to promote each one.” And to ensure the widest and most cost-effective distribu- tion of Harlequin titles, the company has inked an exclusive deal with Russian Post to make use of its 39,000-odd sales offices and 80 regional hubs to reach readers in every corner of the nation. Ranked #12 in the industry in terms

8 P U B L I S H E R S



in terms 8 P U B L I S H E R S W E E

Dmitry Shipetin, chairman of Centrepoly- graph

of output in 2010, the company was founded by chairman Dmitry Shipetin in 1990. It remains until today a general trade publisher specializing in fiction, memoirs, history, popular medicine, and self-help, and it has not been tempted to enter the children’s, educational, or busi- ness segments. With translations cur- rently accounting for around 25% of its catalogue, Centrepolygraph is known in Russia for introducing such authors as Peter James, Ann Granger, James Had- ley Chase, and Vicki Myron. “I’m proud to say that we started Russians reading translated thrillers and detective stories, and now romance. We were also the first to translate titles on famous politi- cians—local and foreign—such as Jung Chang’s work on Mao Zedong. As for original titles, we developed two unique series of autobiographies—totaling 500 titles—of Russian and German soldiers of WWII,” says Shipetin, whose com- pany is also famous for another original series of more than 100 autobiographies in the history of Russia during the Com- munist revolution and the fall of the monarchy in the early 20th century. Asked to recommend authors that may appeal to foreign publishers, Shipetin reels off several names, including nonfic- tion author Valery Sinelnikov, whose You Must Love Your Illness has six million cop- ies in print, and fantasy authors Dmitry Khvan, Roman Haer, and Igor Chuzin, whose works are published in the series Our People Out There. “Contemporary Russian authors remain largely unknown to foreign publishers and readers, and we hope this situation will change soon.”

4 ,

2 0 1 1

2 0 1 1


Bookselling was how Oleg Novikov and Andrei Gredasov—currently CEO and editor-in-chief respectively—started Eksmo back in 1991. Since then, organic expansion and various acquisitions have turned it into one of the largest book publishing and retail companies in Rus- sia. With 81 million copies printed per year and around 10,000 titles in its cata- logue, Eksmo has major stakes in differ- ent sectors of the book industry, includ- ing retail (with nearly 200 stores through the chains Bookvoed, Bibliosphera, and Chitay-gorod) and an e-bookstore (LitRes). For a general trade publisher that started with only one title (on his- tory) in 1993, it accounted for 20% of the total Russian book sales last year; it was 18% in 2009. “Acquisitions in the retail sector have allowed us to be the biggest retail operator in Russia, and this lays a strong foundation for our future expansion,” says Novikov, whose com- pany also owns publishing and retail concerns in Ukraine. The only Russian publishing company to run a mySAP ERP system to integrate the various divi- sions in its vast operation, Eksmo cur- rently has eight regional distribution centers, both in Russia and outside— Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Ekaterinburg, Ros- tov-on-Don, and Kiev, Ukraine, and Almaty, Kazakhstan—and is working on expanding the network further into the often neglected eastern regions of Russia. Blockbuster authors abound among Eksmo’s 8,000-odd names, with fiction

regions of Russia. Blockbuster authors abound among Eksmo’s 8,000-odd names, with fiction Oleg Novikov, CEO of

Oleg Novikov, CEO of Eksmo

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

P u b l i s h i n g i n R u s s

Agent 013 by Daria Dontsova, the most published author in Russia

emerging as its strongest (and best- known) segment. Foreign names in its catalogue (of which 25% are translations) include Stieg Larsson, Danielle Steele, Haruki Murakami, Arturo Pérez- Reverte, Agatha Christie (since 2008), and Eoin Colfer. As for Russian authors, this is the house of Darya Dontsova, Tatyana Tolstaya, Tatiana Ustinova, Lud- mila Ulitskaya, Yuri Nikitin, and Viktor Pelevin. Dontsova, nicknamed the queen of detective stories, is the most published author in Russia, with a total print run of 122 million copies, while Ustinova takes third place with around 30 million. “Some Eksmo authors, such as Dontsova, Ulitskaya and Pelevin, have had their works successfully licensed to foreign publishers, mostly European. But rights sales are tough going,” adds Novikov, currently vice chairman of the Russian Book Union and an expert considered by many as the spokesperson of the Russian book industry. “The trends in the marketplace point to growing interest in children’s books, hobbies and crafts, cooking and popular literature. And these are the areas that Eksmo will focus on for the next two to three years.” Far-sighted Novikov, who started a culinary magazine, Bread & Salt, two years ago, has developed a related Internet portal, which boasts more than two million visitors per month. At the same time, he has launched

10 P U B L I S H E R S



a range of books, a dedicated Web site and newsletters on soccer and national players, well in advance of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Unlike many publishers, however, Novikov does not view the Internet and digital publishing as threats: “These are additional opportunities to distribute our publications and make them available to the masses outside major cities more affordably and conveniently.” But a shrinking reading population, estimated at around 20% of the whole population for the past two years, is worrying, and Novikov, in a bid to reverse the trend, is one of the initiators and supporters of a nationwide program to promote reading.


Few publishing houses work harder than GLAS to promote works by contempo- rary Russian authors. Winner of the Ros- sica Prize for best translations in 2007 (for 7 Stories by Sigizmund Krzhizha- novsky) and again in 2009 (Iramifications by Maria Galina), GLAS has just part- nered with Consortium Books to distrib- ute its titles to non-British Common- wealth countries. “We publish the best of contemporary Russian fiction in English. In fact, many authors appeared in English for the first time with GLAS, and some were then picked up by overseas publish- ers,” says founder/publisher Natasha Perova, who works with American and British translators. She has just reprinted Michele Berdy’s The Russian Word’s Worth:

A Humorous and Informative Guide to the

Word’s Worth: A Humorous and Informative Guide to the Natasha Perova, founder and publisher of GLAS

Natasha Perova, founder and publisher of GLAS

4 ,

2 0 1 1

2 0 1 1

Russian Language, Culture, and Translation. “With nearly 10 million Russian émigrés in the U.S. and thousands of expatriates in Russia, this title is set to bridge cul- tural differences and bring people closer,” Perova says. “Consortium has started dis- tributing it in March, and we hope it will be a sleeper hit.” Her backlist of 50 titles (half of which are anthologies) includes Squaring the Circle, a collection of Debut Prize win- ners. “This unique award for writers under 25 is considered on par with the Booker. We collaborate with Olga Slavnikova—Debut Prize Foundation director and Russian Booker Prize win- ner—to provide glimpses of present-day Russia, its thoughts and its future direc- tion. Aside from the English and Chinese editions out in 2010, we also launched the French edition last February. Oth- ers—in German by Suhrkamp, Italian by Marco Tropea Editore, and Spanish by La Otra Orilla—will be available within the next 12 months.” One surprise hit at GLAS is The Diary of a Soviet Schoolgirl, an Anne Frank–like diary that was accidentally discovered among KGB archives. “We published the abridged version, and it has since been translated into 20 languages. Another successful title is Arkady Babchenko’s A Soldier’s War in Chechnya. We published his firsthand account as part of our War & Peace collection, and now his book is available in 15 languages, including Eng- lish by Portobello–Grove Atlantic. It is amazing how those books that you didn’t pin much hope on unexpectedly do well.” But successes from contemporary writers are far and few between. “Russian litera- ture is still deeply entrenched in the clas- sics. Language and cultural barriers are further obstacles to translation of Russian works. On the other hand, English- speaking countries are notoriously self- sufficient, and translated titles make up only 3% of their publications. It’s time for English-speaking people to realize how much they are missing,” says Perova, listing several Debut Prize winners, such as Alisa Ganieva (from Daghestan), Igor Savelyev (Bashkiria), Alexei Lukyanov (the Urals), and Irina Bogatyreva (Mos-

Discover Unknown Russia with New Literary Observer // New Literary Observer is the leading publishing

Discover Unknown Russia with New Literary Observer //

New Literary Observer is the leading publishing house in Russia focusing on humanities, contemporary art, prose and poetry. // Three multidisciplinary periodicals, 28 book series, two annual scholarly conferences, and a broad variety of cultural events are just a small part of what we do. // Launched in 1992, at the very peak of the Russian democratic revolution, New Literary Observer maintains its powerful impetus for social and cultural transformations. // Over the years, our publications have become a meeting point for an international community of renowned scholars, writers, and intellectuals. // Promoting new fields of knowledge, forging cutting-edge aesthetic trends, generating bold ideas, we have created a unique cultural space, a 21st century republic of letters. // Join us at the London Book Fair for a series of discussions and readings to discover Unknown Russia.

of discussions and readings to discover Unknown Russia. tel/fax: +7 495 229 9103 // //
of discussions and readings to discover Unknown Russia. tel/fax: +7 495 229 9103 // //

tel/fax: +7 495 229 9103 // //

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

cow), as the upcoming voices of modern Russian literature.


Wonderful things happened at Meshcheryakov: a former banking execu- tive became its founder and publisher, and a biologist won the nation’s best book award. For Vadim Meshcheryakov, children’s books in Russia used to be little segments in big publishing houses:

“Commoditylike, they were available in big quantities but low on quality. Book- stores, on the other hand, were very con- servative in stocking them. As a former banker with good knowledge of how business is done, I set up this publishing house six years ago to provide both quan- tity and quality.” The latter is certainly in abundance when one thumbs through Meshcheryakov’s catalogue. A particu- larly striking title is The Insects’ Letters by biologist Olga Kuvykina. The 2010 Book of the Year, announced at the Mos- cow International Book Fair, was also a finalist in the Enlightener contest along- side many noteworthy nonfiction books meant for adults. Although translations take up only 10% of its list, Meshcheryakov offers many works by top European illustrators (Arthur Rackham, Jon Bauer, Charles Robinson, and Mabel Lucy Atwell) and was the first to introduce Finnish author Mauri Kunnas and Italian writer Silvana de Mari to Russian children. “This year, we are planning to release two titles by

“This year, we are planning to release two titles by The Insects’ Letter , winner of

The Insects’ Letter, winner of the 2010 Book of the Year award

12 P U B L I S H E R S



award 1 2 P U B L I S H E R S W E E

Vadim Meshcheryakov, founder and publisher of Meshcheryakov

New Zealand author Margaret Mahy, whose works have been published only in magazines. The demand for foreign con- temporary titles is stable but not high enough to generate bestsellers. Classics such as those by James M. Barry and Lewis Carroll remain popular.” Meshcheryakov publishes about 150 new titles per year (“I won’t be embarrassed by any of the front- or backlist titles; they are all good”) and is focused on publish- ing for the Russian market instead of selling rights (“since we are truly a non- entity in the global publishing industry, and even more so when it comes to chil- dren’s books”). The dream of gathering all children’s publishers under one roof while provid- ing a genre-specific distribution network prompted Meshcheryakov to set up Curi- osity Shop for Children’s Books last year. “We have four stores now—in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov, and Nizhny 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 in the Russian language. YA titles are next on his to-do list. “We want our readers to stay with us as

4 ,

2 0 1 1

2 0 1 1

they grow while we expand our publish- ing scope into new areas. For a start, as a general partner in Kniguru—a new award for YA and children’s books that was launched last November—we will publish the winning YA authors and take it from there.”

New Literary Observer (NLO)

NLO specializes in the study of Russian culture in a global context. Last year, edi- tor and publisher Irina Prokhorova pub- lished 85 new books and 16 journals (six in NLO, six in NZ: Debates on Politics and Culture, and four in Fashion Theory:

Dress, Body & Culture). This year, she plans to release 100 new books and is working on two special issues of the NLO journal devoted to one key ques- tion: how to write the other history of mankind: “It is about the transnational history of an individual.” Prokhorova’s goals are to create new trends in Russian human studies and contemporary fiction as well as to develop NLO as a research center. “I’m launching a new long-term project, a New Anthro- pology of Culture, aimed at radically re- evaluating current approaches to national and world history. There will be a set of special NLO journals and a series of workshops and seminars on this topic, and these in turn will present us with content for a new series of books.” Last year, Prokhorova collaborated with Gallimard to translate works by five French authors on the emerging new

translate works by five French authors on the emerging new Irina Prokhorova, editor and publisher of

Irina Prokhorova, editor and publisher of New Literary Observer (NLO)

ROSMAN Group is the full-cycle children’s brands promotion company and provides following services: -Localization or
ROSMAN Group is the full-cycle children’s brands promotion company and provides following services: -Localization or
ROSMAN Group is the full-cycle children’s brands promotion company and provides following services: -Localization or
ROSMAN Group is the full-cycle children’s brands promotion company and provides following services: -Localization or

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) +7 (495) 933-70-70

City) -Masha & the Bear (Animakord) -Disney Baby (Disney) -Pop Pixie (Rainbow) +7 (495) 933-70-70

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

concept of man based on recent discover- ies in natural and human sciences. The special project was completed in time for the Non/Fiction Book Fair in Moscow. “French philosophy and literature exerted a tremendous influence on Rus- sian thought and cultural identity when the country was opening up to the world in the past. This joint effort—together with a series of roundtables involving the authors—was most timely.” Overall, 20% of NLO publications are translations, including Robert Darn- ton’s The Great Cat Massacre, Frances Yates’s Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition and Donald Rayfield’s Stalin and His Hangmen. Originals such as Gasparov’s The Engaging Greece (70,000 copies sold), Olga Vainshtein’s Dandy (15,000 copies), the two-volume collec- tion Smells and Aromas in a Cultural Con- text (10,000 sets), prose by Bruskin and Prigov, as well as poetry by Rodionov are among its bestsellers. Some have been translated into English (Alexei Miller’s The Romanov Empire and Nationalism and Marina Mogilner’s Homo Imperii), Japa- nese (Boris Akunin’s Writer and Suicide) and Korean (Mikhail Yamposky’s Lan- guage-Body-Opportunity). Fiction, such as Yuri Bujda’s The Prussian Bride and Vladimir Tuchkov’s Death Comes over the Internet, is much more widely translated than nonfiction titles. About 35% of NLO readership comes from overseas markets. “Our journals are subscribed by various foreign universi- ties with Slavic departments,” says Prokhorova. “We have Kubon & Sagner and East View Publications to distribute our journals in Europe and the U.S. We also have a big online readership because the journals are available on our Web site. This free access has not affected our print subscription; in fact, it has signifi- cantly increased the citation rate.” Natu- rally, Prokhorova is very enthusiastic about e-books, especially for the aca- demic and educational segments. “I’m looking for partners to turn our titles into e-books. I also hope that Amazon would be interested in distributing Rus- sian e-books in the near future.”

14 P U B L I S H E R S



OLMA Media Group

Several major translations are set to boost OLMA’s sales this year (and to beat the previous gross of $60 million). George W. Bush’s Decision Points, Julia Child’s Master- ing the Art of French Cooking, and a bestsell- ing European children’s fantasy series Oksa Pollock are just some of the new titles. “We are also planning to publish more of P.C. Cast and Erin Hunter as well as series by Cate Tiernan, Martin Cruz Smith, Diane Mott Davidson, and Char- lotte Link,” says general director Dmitry Ivanov, who has bought many other titles, including an award-winning Spanish series, but is keeping the names under wraps, especially since many are still in manuscript stage. “Translations will rep- resent at least 10% of our list this year, and we are constantly looking out for the best titles for our portfolio and our readers.” On the other hand, rights sales of works by Boris Akunin and Ernst Mul- dashev as well as various nonfiction and reference titles have been going on for some time. Most of these go to eastern European publishers. Back home, Alex- ander Bushkov, author of more than 80 titles in various genres, is an OLMA brand. “Bushkov’s fantasy and detective titles are very popular with Russian read- ers, and we have sold more than five mil- lion copies of his books. We also sold 420,000 copies of Boris Akunin’s Falcon and Swallow.” Reference titles are another OLMA specialty, with more than half a million copies sold of its Great Painters series, along with classics like Omar

of its Great Painters series, along with classics like Omar Dmitry Ivanov, general director of OLMA

Dmitry Ivanov, general director of OLMA Media Group

4 ,

2 0 1 1

2 0 1 1

Qayyum’s Rubayat. “Culinary titles are becoming trendy, and one of our cook- books, Fast Cooking Recipes, has sales in excess of 400,000 copies.” Then there are special titles dedicated to Moscow’s 860th anniversary, audiobooks (under the OLMA Bookster imprint), and orig- inals by authors such as Anna Andri- anova and Natalia Nechayeva. “We are best known for high-quality full-color illustrated encyclopedias such as The World People’s Great Encyclopedia, The Slavic Encyclopedia, and Ten Centuries of Russian Literature.” OLMA (coined from the name of its two founders, Olessa and Maxim) has around 150 staff in Moscow and will release 1,450 titles this year covering all genres. To date, 20 years since its incep- tion, OLMA has published more than 27,000 titles. Holding firm to its busi- ness principle of zero investment in book- stores, it has opted to set up regional offices—about 16 of them—to directly deliver products to retail shops and out- lets instead of relying on wholesalers. “Last year, the Russian book market dropped by 20%—the same for the 2008–2009 period. For some, the rise of e-books is worrying. But for me, the worst thing would be if people stopped reading. So, whether it is e-books or print books, it does not matter to us. As a pub- lisher, we just want to see people continue reading in whichever format they like.”


Competitor and collaborator are some- times one and the same at St. Petersburg– based academic publisher Piter. Last year, president Vadim Usmanov set up iBooks .ru, a joint venture with BHV (his main competitor in the computer book seg- ment) to sell e-books to universities. He also collaborates with other academic publishers, namely Infra-M, Yurait, and LAN, for the same purpose. “A year ago, our Education Ministry mandated e-libraries at every university, and that effectively changed our business stance with respect to e-books. While the online store—which will offer about 2,500 titles by the end of this year—has been success-

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

P u b l i s h i n g i n R u s s

President Vadim Usmanov and general director Elena Nikol-

skaya of Piter

ful, sales from this channel represent barely 3% of our total business. One major challenge is that our universities, like many others around the globe, suffer from a lack of government funding.” Usmanov believes that e-books and multimedia titles are the future of the publishing industry. But the online plat- form is complex, adds general director Elena Nikolskaya: “There is no proper legislation in place to prevent piracy of e-books or uploaded print books. Free downloading is rampant, especially among students who want material from books that are usually very expensive and are only available in hardcover.” Still, there is no stopping Piter from venturing beyond conventional publishing. Several months ago, it signed an agreement to put titles in Apple’s iBookstore and started participating in the Google Books project. The past 20 years saw Piter, one of the top three academic publishers in Russia, releasing around 8,000 titles (totaling 92 million copies in print run), 20% of which are translations from mostly American publishers such as Pearson Education, Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, Cengage Learning, and O’Reilly. It has offices in 11 cities, including in Ukraine and Belarus, and takes up nearly 60% of the Russian computer book market. However, the segment’s drastic drop— with nearly 50% contraction during the 2008–2009 period—has prompted Piter to find new businesses. (Today, however, professional computer titles, especially those by Alexander Levin, continue to

sell very well.) “We branched out into nonfiction children’s titles about two years ago, producing playbooks, educa- tional CD/DVD/interactive titles, and parenting books. We also broadened our pub- lishing program to offer eco- nomics and political journal- ism, besides strengthening our list in law, business, psy- chology, and medicine. These new categories have proven

to be a good fit for us.” Best- sellers in 2010 include Paul Ekman’s Telling Lies (200,000 copies sold), Nikolay Starikov’s Crisi$: How to Create It (rights sold to Nova Zora of Bul- garia, DPF of Slovenia, and Ukrainian entrepreneur Tsirul Pavel), and Levin’s Computer: Teach Yourself (11th edition). Five million copies of Levin’s titles have been sold to date. Adds Usmanov, “Two years ago, at the start of the economic crisis, the plan was to survive the down- turn. Today, the mission is to expand our business in various segments, whether in e-book or print. We are highly adaptable and proactive in this respect.”

Ripol Classic

At Ripol Classic, there is no bigger title in recent memory than Elizabeth Gil- bert’s Eat, Pray, Love, which has sold more than 800,000 copies since its 2008 launch. Other translated bestsellers in 2010 include Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy and Bernard Wer- ber’s The Mirror of Cassandra. Werber, a French sci-fi novelist, is Ripol’s top author in terms of sales, with two million copies of his works printed and distrib- uted in Russia. Originals make up nearly 60% of Ripol’s catalogue, and big authors include Andrei Yasrebov with his books in the Watching series, which together sold more than 150,000 copies in 2010, and Victor Dragunsky with his Denis chil- dren’s series (60,000 copies). The last four months also saw Ripol selling 30,000 copies of Olga Lucas’s trilogy and 25,000 of Sophia Catenina’s Will There Be Happi-

2 0 1 1

ness. Rights sales have picked up, with titles going to the Baltic States, Bulgaria, France, and Japan. How I Love America and Paris, Moscow, Love by Misha Aznavour, for instance, were sold to France. Ranked #9 in terms of output (979 titles in 2010), Ripol specializes in fic- tion, nonfiction, and children’s titles. Its portfolio has broadened in recent years to include popular science and reference and dictionaries. After celebrating the sale of its 150,000,000th book last year, general director Sergei Makarenkov and his 250-strong team are ready to find new authors—local and foreign—to boost its 8,000-title catalogue and strengthen its 2,000-odd e-book list. “But when it comes to translations, we are often not given the digital rights for e-books. Or they are granted long after the print version has appeared. This does not help in terms of pushing e-book sales or countering piracy,” says Makarenkov, who also points out that poor Internet connectivity in the outer regions is a bar- rier to wider e-book distribution. For print books, having nine bookshops in Moscow and two “book supermarts” in Voronezh and Kursk does help to bring titles to readers. In the fiction market, Makarenkov has witnessed dramatic changes: “There is an emerging awareness of the importance of promotion and positioning. So now we have author tours, book signings, and more targeted campaigns to coincide with the book launch. And, increasingly, readers of fiction in Russia are women,

And, increasingly, readers of fiction in Russia are women, Sergei Makarenkov, general director of Ripol Classic

Sergei Makarenkov, general director of Ripol Classic

P u b l i s h i n g i n R u s
P u b l i s h i n g
i n
R u s s i a
2 0 1 1
which means we need well-designed cov-
ers and better packaging to make books
more appealing. Today, fiction blockbust-
ers that sell above two million copies are
no longer just a dream. You can say that
modern Russians are no longer so serious,
with their nonfiction and literary tomes.”
Top 10 authors in 2010
(adult titles)
As such, the group has ventured
beyond publishing. It provides compre-
hensive marketing services for children’s
products, from localization/adaptation to
Darya Dontsova
Julia Shilova
Arthur Conan Doyle
complex nationwide multimedia promo-
tional campaigns that involve content
production for major TV channels. Ros-
Tatiana Ustinova
man is now the official distributor for
Tatiana Polyakova
Hasbro, Mattel, and Giochi Preziosi. It
Rosman Group
Alexandra Marinina
has licenses from Hasbro for Littlest Pet
This is Russia’s biggest children’s book
publisher, ranked #5 in the publishing
industry in terms of title output, with an
average of 1,300 titles per year. This is
also home to the young Hogwarts wiz-
ard, with over 12 million copies of his
adventures sold so far. “We printed
30,000 and 50,000 copies for the first
and second books respectively, and suc-
cess came only after the third book,” says
president Mikhail Markotkin. “No one
believed that this series would be suc-
cessful here, and we certainly took a big
risk by leveraging our reputation to push
a foreign—and totally untested—
author.” In the 1990s, the company
depended on translations because of the
lack of local contemporary children’s
titles. “Our translations were then as
high as 90% of our entire list.” Today,
only about 25% of Rosman’s catalogue is
translations, mostly YA titles such as
those by Pullman (whose Dark Materials
trilogy has sold one million copies),
Paolini, Funke, Shan, and Stine.
Originals are growing, especially pic-
ture books. Bestselling exports, however,
come from original children’s educa-
Shop, Beyblade, and Tonka, and it works
Alexandre Dumas
with Mattel, Disney Baby, and Cartoon
Stephenie Meyer
Boris Akunin
Ekaterina Vilmont
Top 10 authors in 2010
(children’s books)
Network on publishing and merchandise
properties. It recently launched Bella-
Sara in Russia. “Few Russian children are
allowed to use the Internet on their own
because parents are wary of undesirable
online elements. So, we use BellaSara
magazine as the main brand carrier and
Kornei Chukovsky
roll out an extensive marketing program
to educate parents on the security of our
Vladimir Stepanov
online portal. This online/offline promo-
Agnia Barto
tional campaign is essential for a success-
Irina Gurina
ful product launch.”
Hans Christian Andersen
Adds Markotkin, “Aside from the
huge Russian market, our proximity to
Samuil Marshak
neighboring countries such as Kazakh-
Charles Perrault
Alexander Volkov
Nikolai Nosov
Grigory Oster
stan and Ukraine, and our understanding
of them, allows us to develop compre-
hensive marketing plans that cover these
regions for our overseas partners.”
Mikhail Markotkin, president of Rosman
tional titles and fiction such as School for
Preschoolers (12 million copies sold in
Russia), Kid’s Development (seven million),
and the series Novels for Girls (four mil-
lion). These titles have been sold to 28
European publishers including Svojtka
(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-
grams, and merchandise, all of which
have huge market potential in Russia.”
ROSSPEN (or Russian Political Encyclo-
pedia Press) is the largest publisher of
20th-century archives of Russian and
Soviet Union history. “We started with
the political history of the Soviet Union
Andrei Sorokin, general director of

16 P U B L I S H E R S



4 ,

2 0 1 1

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

and Russia, and since then we have moved on to other branches of social science,” says general director Andrei Sorokin, whose 40 staff members released 250 titles last year. A historian by profession, Sorokin initially planned ROSSPEN as a research institute. “It was only after the total collapse of state-owned publishing in 1991 that I thought about establishing this company as a publishing entity.” One of Sorokin’s biggest (and most ambitious) projects took place in 2007 when he collaborated with the Boris Yelt- sin President Centre Fund, the Russian State Archive, and a few other organiza- tions to produce a massive 100-volume series called the History of Stalinism. More than 80 volumes have been released, with around 50% translated from various languages including English, German, Italian, and even Swedish. Nick Baron’s Soviet Karelia: Politics, Planning, and Terror in Stalin’s Russia was translated and added to the series last month. So far, the His- tory of Stalinism project has been short- listed for the IPA Freedom to Publish Prize twice—in 2009 and 2010. As to why a comprehensive and large- scale study of Stalin is crucial, he says, “It is a fact, garnered from various socio- logical surveys, that more than 50% of the population judge Stalin’s role in Rus- sian history to be positive, and the num- ber has grown in recent years. This series is aimed at overcoming the ideological and political legacy of the Soviet period, and uncovering the truth and facts. We believe that the creation of a modern type of civilization in Russia is only possible after we put the previous era into per- spective.” The series will be distributed to 1,000 public and university libraries once it is completed. Over the years, ROSSPEN has also won several UNESCO prizes, including for Russia Abroad: A Golden Book of Emigrants in 2007 and Essays in the History of Islamic Civilization in 2009. Last September, its 119-volume Library of Russia’s Social Thought won the Book of the Year award. “Scientific and research titles such as those produced by ROSSPEN have lim- ited readership. We are happy when a print run reaches 2,000 to 3,000 copies.

On record, our bestseller is Egor Gaidar’s The Downfall of the Empire, which has sold more than 20,000 copies and is available in English and French,” adds Sorokin, who is planning to release several big titles, including an encyclopedic series on Russian Revolutionary Thought and the continuation of the Library of Russia’s Social Thought to cover the whole 20th century. “Next year, on the 200th anni- versary of the 1812 Patriotic War, we hope to release a three-volume encyclope- dia with several partners, including the State Historical Museum and the State Hermitage, to commemorate the event.”


This is a unique publishing company founded and chaired by Sergey Kondra- tov, a name known throughout Russian publishing and printing circles. Its core business is book clubs—but these are not your typical book clubs. Their names— Montplaisir and Marly, after the ancient royal villas located near St. Petersburg— provide obvious hints of exclusivity. Montplaisir, established 11 years ago, has around 300 members who hail from the upper echelon of Russian society, includ- ing politicians (presidents and ministers past and present) and billionaire busi- nessmen. “Titles produced for Montplaisir members are deluxe collectibles of vin- tage books,” says Grigory Kozhevnikov, Terra’s general director. Consider these: a gilt-edged two-volume Baltic Fairy Tales complete with gold and amber cover embellishments selling for $7,000 (and only 20 sets available) or a four-volume Emperor Alexander I with Swarovski crys- tals and semiprecious stones forming the shape of a czar’s crown for $8,000. “Our bestsellers include the Legend of Sergius of Radonezh, the 62-volume Grand Ency- clopedia, and the three-volume World of Roerich.” In contrast, Marly Club, formed two years ago, serves a much wider mem- bership with titles that are priced much lower. It publishes one catalogue per year, offering about 100 titles in total. Encyclopedia on Wines of the U.S.S.R., for instance, is one recent title from Marly.

2 0 1 1

, for instance, is one recent title from Marly. 2 0 1 1 Sergey Kondratov, founder

Sergey Kondratov, founder and chairman of Terra

These two book clubs account for nearly 60% of Terra’s total sales. The profit is pumped back into its general publishing division, where multivolume encyclopedias and various reference titles are produced. Among the titles are Ency- clopedia of the Russian Revolution and Civil War in Russia and Encyclopedia of Fascism and Anti-fascism—special titles that would appeal to international readers. “But we have not sold any rights to over- seas publishers yet,” says Kozhevnikov. “We also have not planned to issue e-books in the near future, though we are now seriously considering selling our content to e-book aggregators.” Then there are thematic encyclopedias, such as the 15-volume Encyclopedia of Painting, which sells for around $350 and is among the bestsellers. Given all these publish- ing activities, it is not surprising to note that Terra printed its 10-billionth book with Bertelsmann-Arvato back in 1996. For a publishing house considered small in the Russian context and ranked nowhere near the top 20 in terms of new titles or print run, Terra has a monopoly in the deluxe/collectible editions segment with its two book clubs, the most successful in the country. And now, its low-priced mul- tivolume encyclopedias are setting the standards in the reference segment.


History is at the heart of Veche. Whether it is historical novels or military history, the publishing house has something to

Leonid Mlechin – KGB

Leonid Mlechin Cold War

Igor Zimin – The Big World of Imperial Residences

W a r Igor Zimin – The Big World of Imperial Residences Valerij Sinelnikov – Mysteries

Valerij Sinelnikov –

Mysteries of the Subconscious

David G. Chandler – The Campaigns of Napoleon

Roman Haer – Perfect Job

Peter James – Dead Like You

Donald N. Thompson – The 12$ Million Stuffed Shark

Vicki Myron – Dewey

Centrepolygraph Publishing House is one of the biggest publishers in Russia. 732 titles were issued in 2010 with a total print run of 4 787 500 copies.

Eva Hornung – Dog Boy

Ann Granger – A Fine Place for Death

Deon Meyer – Thirteen Hours

in Man Booker 2010 Shortlist, Russian publication April
in Man

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.

and kept in the Personal Library of the Russian Patriarch. Nora Roberts Debbie Macomber Tess Gerritsen

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

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

2 0 1 1

P u b l i s h i n g i n R u s s

Sergey Dmitriev, editor-in-chief of Veche

offer from its catalogue of well over 10,000 titles. Editor-in-chief Sergey Dmitriev, who recently bought Rory Clements’s Martyr and Revenger, says, “Translations represent 15% of our 2010 list, and this figure is set to increase this year. Our major plans for the next 24 months are to produce more bestselling translations and e-books, and, as always,

INTRODUCING Your business is only as strong as your talent. Publishers Weekly’s new JOB ZONE
Your business is only
as strong as your talent.
Publishers Weekly’s new
JOB ZONE will enable you to
recruit from amongst the
publishing industry’s nest
job applicants. Place your
employment opportunity for just
$250 monthly and recruit from
400,000 monthly users.
Your success is our success!

20 P U B L I S H E R S



to offer readers an objective point of view on world history in various genres.” Veche’s editorial team released a series commemorating the 60th anniversary of WWII with a total print run of one mil- lion copies a few months ago. It is set to become yet another bestseller. But for now the distinction of being Veche best- sellers belongs to three big series: 100 of the Greats (on world history, told through specific personalities, events, or cultural masterpieces), Military Adven- tures (fictitious accounts), and Actual History (in which historians, politicians, and journalists, both native and foreign, discuss contemporary Russian history). Among the many authors, novelist Val- entin Pikul, whose war and naval his- torical novels have been adapted for the screen, emerges as its most popular. Meanwhile, rights sales have started in earnest. “We are in the midst of selling several titles, including Vladimir Shiguin’s Kursk: 10 Years Later, Alexey Isayev’s 1945: Triumph in the Offensive and Defensive and Vladimir Lebedev’s Trea- sures and Relics of the Romanovs,” adds Dmitriev, whose team is in negotiation with Bellona (Poland) and Helion (Great Britain). About 800 new titles (with print runs averaging 5,000 copies each) are added each year. Interestingly, 90% of Veche titles are in hardcover. Says Dmitriev, “Our readers and distribution partners prefer that. In fact, it has become a tradi- tion for us to release any title in hard- cover.” Currently, the number of e-books stands at around 500. “We collaborate with LitRes on e-books, and the agree- ment is that 50% of the revenue goes to them, 20% to the author and the rest to

Veche.” Each e-book currently retails at around 80 rubles ($2.80). Recent years saw Veche adding trade titles to its portfolio, such as books on pets, hobbies, travel, medicine, and health. “While our passion is for anything historical, we are also mindful of what our readers would like to have on their book- shelf. And as a for-profit company, it makes perfect sense to widen our publish- ing program to cover different segments.”

Other Players in the Market Place

It is impossible to cover all major players

in this article, but there are several names that PW wants to mention briefly. In the textbook segment—one that is seeing increased cooperation with American and British publishers—there are Pros- veshcheniye, Drofa, and BINOM, while Eksamen produces mostly study and test guides. In the college and academic seg- ment, Infra-M has 50% share of the law market and 36% in business and eco- nomics. On the other hand, Vlados, largely regarded as a humanitarian pub- lisher, produces titles for teachers and teacher trainers dealing with special needs children. Trade publisher Vremya focuses on 20th-century Russian authors, especially of prose and poetry, while no one does it better than Slovo when it comes to illustrated coffee-table books and art titles. Many of the publishers named in this report will be attending the 2011 Lon- don Book Fair (April 11–13). Just head to the Russian Pavilion (Stand W555), and get to know them and their authors



The task of selecting a representative group from a pool of 20,000 registered publish- ers—6,000 of which are active—is daunting, and it was made possible through the help of many. PW would like to thank the following for making this report a reality: Vladi- 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 of the Russian Book Union) for contacting major publishers and other industry players, fixing up appointments, and acting as our general minder; and Viktor Nemchinov (in Moscow) and Natalia Ivashova (in St Petersburg), interpreters par excellence.

4 ,

2 0 1 1

Books for those with child inside

Books for those with child inside Meshcheryakov Publishing House

Meshcheryakov Publishing House

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

E-books and e-libraries are gaining ground amid challenges big and small

Braving the Digital Path

By Teri Tan

Given that nearly 90% of Russian households are expected to have Internet access by 2012, it is easy to see why e-books, online retailers, and electronic libraries are getting so much attention (and investment interest) in recent years. Russian publishers, fueled by the success of their U.S. counterparts, are busy converting e-books and working with service provid- ers to put the titles online. But this being a new sector in the Russian book market, challenges abound. Here, a few domi- nant players talk to PW about the general e-book industry, their successes, and the challenges ahead.


At the power of the Internet has turned a resource portal started by a group of sci-fi lovers from St. Petersburg in 1998 into an e-commerce powerhouse. Now regarded as the Ama- of Russia, it accounts for 50% of all online book sales in the country. Last year, it sold 5.2

million copies of books (in

country. Last year, it sold 5.2 million copies of books (in Bernard Lukey, CEO of

Bernard Lukey, CEO of

book sales—we believe its volume will increase signifi- cantly during the next five years. The same upward trend is also expected of for- eign books sold through the Internet.” More than 90% of all foreign titles on OZON .ru are in English, imported from wholesalers or publish- ers in the U.K. and Europe.

Visitors can browse through 250,000 books, which

print and electronic for- mats), representing 38% of the group’s sales. “In general,” says CEO Bernard Lukey, whose team is, naturally, paying a lot of attention to e-books and foreign titles, “the online book market grows about 30% year-on-year, while bricks- and-mortar operations slide into negative territories. And despite the fact that the e-book market is nearly insignificant— representing less than 2% of total online

account for nearly 30% of the products offered online. Partnering with major publishers to convert titles into e-books is standard procedure. “This conversion business is a loss leader, but we have the utmost faith in the future demand for e-books. The problem for the book industry is how to monetize the content and add value to e-books,” says Lukey. E-books on OZON .ru are priced around 25% to 30% of

22 P U B L I S H E R S



4 ,

2 0 1 1

2 0 1 1

print books, or around 65 rubles ($2.20). “Our Web site also offers old books— which is something very Russian—and 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 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 and 14 delivery options, with shipping anywhere in the world. “You just have to let us know how you want to pay for it and where to send it,” says Lukey. And like its American counterpart, has also gone into e-reader pro- duction. Its monochrome e-ink device, OZON Galaxy, launched in 2009 and has sold about 2,000 units at 9,900 rubles ($340) each. “We are planning to produce over 5,000 units of the second genera- tion—which will come with an integrated Wi-Fi module—with one of Russia’s larg- est mobile operators,” adds Lukey. Asked about the Russian publishing industry in general, Lukey says, “The book market needs to grow. And there are two ways to go about it: add more translated titles or venture into more promising segments such as children’s and business. At the same time, publish- ers should look into developing cheaper versions of the same title—essentially targeting the long tail. Presently, the book market is in decline with fewer new titles, but prices keep going up.”


LitRes, which boasts a catalogue of more than 45,000 Russian e-books, has effec- tively become the largest digital content provider in the nation. “Our Web site has more than 400,000 registered users and about one million unique visitors per month,” says general director Sergei Anuryev, whose collaboration with ser- vice provider MintRight last June has allowed the titles to be distributed to global e-book sellers such as iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Nook, Sony, and Nokia. “It has been a very successful collabora- tion, but our major market is still Rus-

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

2 0 1 1

sia.” The 40-strong LitRes team provides conversion services to the publishing community—offering 17 e-book formats, including Mobi, LRF, ePub, and PDF—and complete mar- keting support. Established in 2007 as a literature resource (hence the company name), LitRes has witnessed the tremen- dous changes in the Russian

e-book market. “Back in 2008, there was virtually no e-book mar- ket here. It was then just a new market opportunity with a questionable future and abstract sales volumes. Now it is a viable segment with concrete sales vol- umes and channels, but it is constantly changing.” Not all Russian publishers are releasing new titles in e-book format, Anuryev cautions, “and we need to do more to encourage these publishers to do so. Only market leaders such as Eksmo, AST, and Ripol release their front lists in e-books.” The average e-book price has also

increased since those early days. “But this is only because we started very low, at around 10% of the print book price. Now

it is up to 30%, and there is potential for

further increase—but not too fast, of

course.” Then there is the price difference between a new e-book title and an old one that is published, say, three years ago. “The difference can be huge. For instance,

a new e-book from a bestselling Russian

author may sell for $8, but only $2 each for his old titles. It must be said that this pricing policy is in tandem with the pol- icy adopted by Russian publishers.” Transaction-wise, the main method is pay-as-you-buy, “but there are other models depending on our partners,” says Anuryev. “We have subscription plans, where customers pay a monthly fee and download a specified number of titles, or online reading, where customers can read as many titles as they like within a cer- tain period but are exposed to sponsored advertisements. Then there is the loyalty program, where customers with approved club membership can download a spe-

customers with approved club membership can download a spe- Sergei Anuryev, general director of LitRes cific

Sergei Anuryev, general

director of LitRes

cific number of books per month.” For now, e-piracy is a big challenge at LitRes. The company has initiated about 10 lawsuits against various parties (mostly operations based outside of Russia) and is working to introduce changes to Russian law per- taining to publishing activi- ties. Going forward, Anu-

ryev’s major plans, besides educating and getting more publishers to offer e-books, are to pro- duce mobile apps and develop e-books for the library market.

overseas partners include Wiley & Sons, Pan Stanford, Nova Science, and World Scientific Publishing. The challenge to the ELS (Electronic Library System) model, says Zyatitsky, is in “convincing universities that our ser- vice is crucial to improving the quality of Russian higher education. Fortunately, President Medvedev’s endorsement of this project has helped to promote and smooth the process. Naturally, there is some resistance to the adoption of ELS and other digital innovations. The response to the call to protect copyright has also been slow in certain quarters. In fact, there were times when piracy at uni- versities and colleges was rampant and went unchecked.” But the biggest headache for Zyat- itsky is the emergence of various small e-libraries, mostly offering illegal con- tent and outdated titles at very low prices. “We are now working with vari- ous government agencies and nongov- ernmental organizations to close loop- holes that may allow such e-library providers to flourish. This is an impor- tant step forward. We need to let local and foreign partners know that the pur- pose of KnigaFund is to provide legally obtained and up-to-date material for Russian universities. Our partners must be assured that they hold the rights to their titles in the KnigaFund repository

in entirety and that it is free from piracy. Most importantly, our students must have reliable and fast access to the best quality reference material possible to meet their learning needs.” Just recently, all 500 computer terminals at the Russian State Library were given free access to KnigaFund’s e-catalogue “in a bid to pro- mote ELS as well as counter e-piracy.” Zyatitsky’s goal this year is to increase ELS subscrip- tions by 50% and to grow DDC’s other verticals. “I would also like to see the same increase in our online bookstore, BestKniga, which


Four-year-old DDC (Digital Distribu- tion Center) is a division within ProfMe- dia, one of Russia’s largest media and entertainment companies. There, two projects take the spotlight—KnigaFund (“Book Fund”) and BestKniga (“Best Book”). Launched in 2008, KnigaFund has one major goal: to develop and support the legal distribution of educational content via the Internet. A sizable investment from ProfMedia has allowed it to acquire 10,000 titles in the past three years. KnigaFund now counts more than 100 universities across Russia and CIS (the Commonwealth of Inde- pendent States, i.e., Russia and the for-

mer republics of the Soviet Union) as its subscribers. “Current subscriptions have exceeded 50,000, and we are now the biggest and most demanded content aggregator of educational and scientific literature in the region,” says general director Sergei Zyatitsky, whose team added 10 uni- versities to its client list in the last quarter of 2010. To date, its database boasts more than 54,000 titles, with 2,000– 5,000 new ones added every month. Local

partners are some 80 pub- lishing houses, while major

Local partners are some 80 pub- lishing houses, while major Sergei Zyatitsky, general director of DDC

Sergei Zyatitsky, general director of DDC

now has around 6,000 e-books in various genres.”

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

2 0 1 1

Catering to shifting reader preferences while adding online services and cultural activities

Bricks-and-Mortar Still Rules

By Teri Tan

Nearly 40% of Russia’s book sales in 2009 came from inde- pendent bookstores. Bookshop chains contributed around 20%, and only 8% were transacted online. The dependence on bricks-and-mortar outlets remains unassailable even though bookstores outside of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and some other major cities (such as Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk) are poorly stocked.

T hat is due in part to high restocking costs when great distances and large transporta- tion bills are involved. And that translates into different prices for the same book:

cheaper in Moscow but dearer in the outer regions (where wages and dispos- able income are much lower). Books are still priced quite low by global stan- dards. But just like anywhere (and every- thing) else, book prices have risen in recent times, from an average of 110 rubles ($3.80) in 2005 to 190 rubles ($6.60) in 2010. Currently, the total number of retail outlets is barely 30% of those existing during Soviet times. The collapse of the centralized distribution system had much to do with the dwindling number of stores. Nowadays, big publishing houses that also have their fingers in the retail pie often have a sophisticated logis- tics division to transport titles to retail

hand them down the generations. TV, the Internet, and games have consider- ably less impact than in the U.S. or U.K. Schools continue to emphasize literature, and parents buy lots of classics, original or translated. On average, every Russian buys around five books per year. Still, publishers bemoan the decline in read- ing. As to where to buy books, residents and visitors alike have plenty of choices— 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- lio-Globus, one of the biggest players in the Russian retail sector. Founded in 1957, it is one of Europe’s biggest book- stores. The huge three-level building offers books, CDs, DVDs, stationery items, and even an antique section for first or limited editions, stamps, coins,

postcards. It hosts a variety of book clubs, including Klio (for history lovers), Young Philosophers, and Foreign Lan- guage Lovers. For a more in-depth look at the retail sector, PW heads over to Moscow’s Dom K n i g i ( “ H o u s e o f Books”). “The last three years saw a significant increase in demand for children’s books, while in-store purchases of pro- fessional titles and litera- ture showed a definite drop,” says commercial director Natalia Yuma- sheva. “For the latter cat- egory, there is a swing toward online orders—a service that we also pro- vide in addition to our

orders—a service that we also pro- vide in addition to our Natalia Yumasheva, commercial director of

Natalia Yumasheva, commercial director of Dom Knigi Moscow

outlets near and far. For smaller publishers, tag- ging along with their big counterparts’ logistics services and bookstores makes perfect sense in cost-conscious times. As a rule, bookstores do not import directly from overseas publishers, rely- ing instead on distribu- tors to get the books they want so as to avoid deal- ing with shipping, cus- toms clearance, and taxa-

tion. Presently, a value- added tax of 18% is imposed on imports of trade books, CDs, and DVDs, and 10% on “educational” titles (the loose definition often works to the advantage of importers). In general, Russians are serious (and rather conservative) readers. Parents tra- ditionally build their own libraries and

bricks-and-mortar opera-

tion. But when it comes to titles for their chil- dren, parents still insist on seeing the book firsthand prior to purchase.” Yuma- sheva works from the chain’s 27,000-square-meter flagship store (with 250,000 titles and 40,000 statio- nery items) at Noyvi Arbat, the city’s main shopping strip.

26 P U B L I S H E R S



4 ,

2 0 1 1

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

2 0 1 1

P u b l i s h i n g i n R u s s

Irina Magracheva (left) and Liubov Paskhina of Dom Knigi St Petersburg

Still state-owned, the chain has 42 stores in Moscow and is becoming much more consumer-driven in recent years. “Muscovites are very keen to learn Eng- lish, and for the past 10 years Raymond Murphy’s grammar books from Cam- bridge University Press, for instance, are very popular,” Yumasheva says. “English language books—specifically travel books and fiction—are taking up more space on our shelves. So too are books on architecture, design, and art.” During PW’s visit in December, the store’s best- sellers were Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, Meyer’s Twilight series, Lewis’s Chronicles of Nar- nia, and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary—driven largely by the arrival of their screen adaptations. “We may be quite a distance away, but we are not immune to U.S. influence in terms of blockbusters.” Yumasheva also notes that there are few local authors writing for 10- to 15-year-olds, which requires publishers to import or translate titles for these readers. “Meanwhile, the lack of informa- tion on published and upcoming titles— or launch schedules—is a major issue. Such a database would help us better plan our promotional campaigns and allocate adequate space to highlight the new titles. That in turn would help push sales and make everybody—us, pub- lisher, and author—happy.” Still, sales at this store come to around 25 million cop- ies per annum. Eight hundred kilometers away, at Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg, Dom

Knigi (no connection to the Mos- cow chain of the same name) was established in 1919, making it the first bookshop during Soviet times. It is still owned by the St. Petersburg municipal govern- ment. Visitors have access to 125,000 titles, 20% of which are fiction and literature. Housed in the century-old Singer Building (complete with a covered court- yard and allegorical sculptures), the store boasts 20,000 visitors a day and holds various author sign- ings and presentations. “Our store

who could have imagined this coming from someone who started his booksell- ing career with a book van about a dozen years ago?) “I want Bookvoed to be the ‘third place’—that space between the house and the office—for book and cul- ture lovers.” The three-level store, com- plete with ramps for wheelchair access, boasts specially commissioned piped-in music (“representing diverse world cul-

tures”), an art school (“for adults to learn how to paint”), multiple computer kiosks (“to help pinpoint book loca- tions”), and a coffee bar. “We have large shops, or supermar- kets, smaller ones, and a book club. There is also the online store, where visi- tors have exceeded 20,000 per week,” says Kotov, whose team organizes about 150 cultural events every month. “Growth is expected to hit 20% this year. Our focus is on further strengthening our brand. Based on our surveys, 65% of respondents have spontaneous knowl- edge of Bookvoed, of which 90% have visited at least one Bookvoed outlet.” Since its first store opened in 2000, Bookvoed has expanded at a frenetic pace: it now has 50 outlets, 42 in St. Petersburg alone. Part of the Novy Kni- zhny Bukvoed bookstore chain—cur- rently the largest in Russia and the CIS with 200 stores—it is managed by Eksmo, which owns 60% of the business. Besides those mentioned above, there are Top Kniga, based in Novosibirsk; Bukva, owned by AST; and Molodaya Gvardiya, Moskva, and Respublica among the more popular and better- stocked stores. The challenge for these companies—and those operating in any corner of the globe—is to survive the economic down- turn and find a way to deal with the


not just a place for people to buy books.


is a cultural meeting point where con-

tent creators and buyers interact and exchange ideas,” says general director Liubov Paskhina. Here, too, the demand for English lan-

guage titles has risen significantly. In fact, Paskhina and commercial director Irina Magracheva imported 1,000 copies

of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

directly from the U.K. publisher when the English edition was launched. “There are plenty of English schools in St. Petersburg, and children want to read in

English, especially global bestsellers like Potter,” adds Paskhina, who dreams of having a bookstore like the seven-story Shanghai Book City, where there is space

to display each book face out. “The major

challenge to any bookstore is the Inter- net. The younger generation prefers to download books and read on iPads or other e-book devices. How the publishing indus- try deals with the Internet and e-books will determine the direction we take in the near future.” A few blocks away, general director

D e n i s

o f

Bookvoed (“Alpha- bet Eater”) is chang- ing the traditional bookstore concept into “a park of culture and reading.” (And

K o t o v

into “a park of culture and reading.” (And K o t o v Denis Kotov, general

Denis Kotov, general director of Bookvoed, with one store bestseller, Russia After the Global Economic Crisis

declining reading habit and emerging e-book market.

28 P U B L I S H E R S



4 ,

2 0 1 1

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

Tips on what kinds of titles will work and contract dos and don’ts

On Rights and Book- Scouting

By Teri Tan

Translations account for about 12% of all titles published in Russia in 2010. Here, as in other corners of the world, Amer- ican and British blockbusters are translated and almost guar- anteed top slots on the bestseller list. Names like J.K. Rowl- ing, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, Nora Rob- erts, Stephenie Meyer, and John Grisham are no strangers in Russia.

A t Alexander Korzhenevski Agency, the first three months of 2011 saw several big deals, including Rango:

The Movie Storybook, Real-Time Marketing and PR, Architect,

has seen “the average advances and royal- ties going up even as print runs are com- ing down. The global economic crisis

does not help, of course, and we are doing fewer deals compared to 2007 or 2008. Some midsize publishers now buy just a few titles per year, while some do not buy anything new at all. However, I’m confi- dent that things will change for the bet- ter soon.” Among the big titles signed by

and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. The latter is very special to agency owner and founder Alexander Korzhenevski because it was the first time he had an

auction for a short story anthology. “If the first three months is any indication, we are defi- nitely looking at more deals for print and digital rights as well as higher advances this year,” he says. Currently, 70% of his business comes from American publishers and literary agencies, and his focus is on selling British and American titles to Russia.

Over the past three to five years, Korzhenevski

his agency were Robert Goolrick’s A Reliable Wife; Robert McCammon’s The Five; a Wiley textbook, Business Model Generation, and another Wiley title, House and Philosophy; and Eric Mayost’s Spectacular Hair. “House and Philoso- phy generated huge royal- ties, while the other four went through pretty intense auctions result- i n g i n v e r y g o o d advances. We also han-

dled sci-fi author Harry

i n v e r y g o o d advances. We also han- dled sci-fi

Alexander Korzhenevski, owner

and founder of AK Agency

30 P U B L I S H E R S



4 ,

2 0 1 1

2 0 1 1

Harrison—whose contracts for all his works are renewed for Eksmo every three years—and Wiley author Joe Vitale.” Based on these titles, one can say that AK Agency has three main segments: fiction (covering sci-fi, fantasy, and horror), business titles (mostly from Wiley), and highly illustrated crafts, cooking, and DIY titles. These segments contribute 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 more popular in recent years. As for what kinds of titles are currently hot with Russian publishers, Korzhenevski says, “We are talking about polar opposites here. Books on vampires are hot. So are self-help books on happiness, well-being, and personal success—especially some- thing like ‘How to make millions while doing nothing for five minutes a day.’ ” For Andrew Nurnberg of the epony- mous rights agency based in the U.K., “2010 was our best year to-date, both in the number of deals and monies earned for our clients. After a dip a few years ago, reflecting the preference for local authors, who are obviously much easier to pro- mote, our sales of foreign fiction and non- fiction have increased dramatically.” His Moscow branch, established in 1993 and headed by Ludmilla Sushkova, recently handled John Irving’s Until I Find You (sold to Eksmo), Fannie Flagg’s I Still Dream About You (Phantom), Chuck Palahniuk’s complete works (AST), and Sam Kashner’s Furious Love (Slovo). Sush- kova has also sold a wide range of writing, from commercial fiction such as Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation and Simon Lelic’s Rupture to literary fiction by Coe, Doctorow, Ishiguro, McEwan, and Murakami. “YA titles have also seen a big growth in demand,” says Nurnberg, not- ing that some Russian publishers are catching up on various 20th-century clas- sics that were not published during Soviet times. “Nonfiction has gained a greater following, and art books—some quite expensive—are enjoying good sales.” His London office, meanwhile, repre- sents classic and contemporary Russian

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

2 0 1 1

authors such as Mikhail Bulgakov, Vassily Grossman, Sergei Lukyanenko (Nightwatch fantasy series), and the first president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin. “It has been most rewarding to see Grossman’s Life and Fate becoming a bestseller in various countries, and to know that BBC will dedicate two weeks of radio this coming autumn to the author’s oeuvre.” As to what works in Russia, Nurnberg says, “We have sold an increasing num- ber of nonfiction titles on philosophy, business, religion, and popular science, as well as anything and everything on self-improvement, over the past five years. In this respect, Russian publishers are now very much in line with what Western publishers are producing so suc- cessfully. We should bear in mind, of course, that Russia has its own authors in many of these fields.” But fiction, which has been the most reliable of genres for many years, has seen a drop recently. “A major bookseller has just decided to sys- tematically reduce its purchase of fiction, as well as the floor space devoted to it, by 15% starting next month due to lower demand from the reading public.” Russian publishers have had a big learning curve, notes Nurnberg, “because the Western way of remunerating authors was unheard of until the early 1990s. They now know that they need to pro- duce payments and regular royalty state- ments to authors, but many of the reports we receive are still sorely lacking.” On the other hand, the challenge in getting Russian authors “heard” outside of the borders, he says, “has a lot to do with providing quality reading material or outlines in good English. You can count on one hand the number of Russian- speaking editors in the English-language publishing community, and those that do not read Russian rely on readers’ reports—but that is never the same to editors as reading the book themselves. So more exposure of Russian authors and, of course, one truly great success story outside of Russia will help bring their literature to the U.K. and other major territories.” For book scout Simone Garzella, keeping Centrepolygraph abreast of new

books from the U.S., U.K., and Italy is a major

part of his job. “In today’s fast-paced book industry,

it is crucial for foreign

publishers to get informa-

tion as early as possible on titles that are attracting more attention within the publishing circle. This way, the publisher can buy the rights before their domestic counterparts snatch them. I also keep

C e n t r e p o l y g r a p h

informed of the latest bestsellers and titles that

are getting more press coverage.” Garzella also scouts for other publishers such as Arab Scientific Pub- lishers (Lebanon), Constable & Robinson (U.K.), Euromedia (Czech Republic), Giunti (Italy), Murdoch Books (Austra- lia), and Pensamento (Brazil), as well as a Hollywood production company looking for potential titles for screen adaptation. One of the first projects Garzella brought to Centrepolygraph was Vicki Myron’s Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat. “This book did very well in the U.S. and many other countries because people had already heard about the story of a cat

that lived in a public library. But to turn

it into a bestseller in Russia—as Cen-

trepolygraph did—where people had no idea about the story was definitely a big challenge and an accomplishment,” says Garzella, who started working with the Russian publishing house in September 2009. “I was more focused on nonfiction titles in the beginning. But now I’m see- ing a growing interest from Russian readers in literary fiction. In general, according to feedback from Russian edi- tors, U.K. books work better in Russia than U.S. titles. There is also a growing interest in YA titles, especially dystopias, postapocalyptic stories, and fantasy nov- els with crossover potentials. U.S. influ- ence, both in the book and movie indus- tries, clearly plays a major part in this.” Working closely with editors is a must for a scout, says Garzella, “because I must know if a particular book or author

“because I must know if a particular book or author Simone Garzella, owner of the eponymous

Simone Garzella, owner of the eponymous book-scouting agency, with the cover of Dewey

would fit into a publish- er’s portfolio, how trans- latable it is, and if for- eign readers would understand or enjoy it. Being a scout is a little like being a translator— and I used to translate English novels into Ital- ian—in that you need to know if a book can cross cultural barriers and would work for a specific country. So it is crucial to get as much information as possible on what a market likes and does not

like, which topics are hot and which taboo.” Not surprisingly, Gar- zella hopes that “someone would write a book on understanding a country by looking at books that their publishers are translating or not translating.”


What does a publisher (or rights agency) need to look out for before signing on the dotted line? First and foremost, it is cru- cial to confirm and state clearly the ter- ritory covered in the contract. Is it for the Russian Federation only, or does it include the CIS? It is advisable to restrict the contract to Russian language only, and not to include CIS countries. But one for world Russian language rights is definitely feasible since there is a sizable market for Russian émigrés. Now that more Russian publishers are setting up editorial offices in Minsk, Belarus; Kiev, Ukraine; or Astana, Kazakhstan, a differ- ent contract should be made for each local language, such as Belarusian, Ukrainian, Kazakh, and so on. Royalties, it should be noted, are based on what is called “publisher’s price.” Explains Nurnberg, “This is close to what is known as wholesale price in other markets. Anyone contemplating a con- tract in Russia should ask what the pub- lisher’s price is expected to be, and also what the publisher expects the average retail price to be. Since there is no fixed retail price, there would not be any firm

Watch out for contemporary Russian authors

P u b l i s h i n g

i n

R u s s i a

2 0 1 1

answer, but you will at least get a ball- park figure.” Retail prices are often set based on location and purchasing power. As a rule, the wealthier residents of Mos- cow and St. Petersburg may see pricier tags on their books, while those living in

rural regions may see costly transporta- tion fees reflected in the final selling price. At present, rights contracts are usually in either U.S. dollars or euros. Check to see if the 18% VAT levied by the Russian

government on noneducational books appears in the contract. It may become a cost transfer (if you will) and deducted from the rights fees later. As always, read the fine print, and the transaction should go smoother for all parties involved.

In the past four months, several translated Russian titles have been reviewed in PW. On the fiction side, there were Alexey Pehov’s Shadow Chaser: Book Two of the Chronicles of Siala, Ludmila Ulitskaya’s Daniel Stein, Interpreter, and Vladimir Sorokin’s Day of the Oprichnik. For nonfiction, Lev Loseff’s Joseph Brodsky: A Literary Life and Sofia Tolstoy’s The Dia- ries of Sofia Tolstoy both earned starred reviews. One title from Leo Tolstoy, The Gospel in Brief: The Life of Jesus, was also reviewed in the religion segment. As always, award-winning titles (or authors) get the most attention. For new voices, the best hope is for the translation to win an award or for a foreign edition to catch the attention of a literary agency in the U.K. or U.S. So who are the big Russian names that we should know and read? With the help of several publishers, PW picks eight Russian authors—in alphabetical order—to represent this new crop of talents.

Boris Akunin

Winner of the Anti-Booker Prize and Writer of the Year award in 2000, Akunin is the king of detective fiction, specializing in the time of imperial Russia. His best-known series are the Adventures of Erast Fandorin, the Adventures of Sister Pelagia and the Adventures of the Master. In total, his books are now available in 35 languages with 25 million copies sold. The English remake of the movie based on his book The Winter Queen is scheduled for release next year.

Polina Dashkova

Known as the queen of Russian crime fiction in Germany, her titles are also very popular in France, the Netherlands, and Spain. More than 40 million copies of her novels have been sold in Russia, and 300,000 in Germany. Targeted at female readers, her novels contain plots set in contemporary Russia that revolve around the average Russian woman.

Sergei Lukyanenko

The biggest name in Russia’s contemporary sci-fi/fantasy genre, Lukyanenko got the attention of the English-speaking world only after the movie release of Night Watch in 2004. In Russia, the movie grossed over $16 million and was consid- ered a blockbuster at the time. Two years later, another movie, Day Watch, was released. The Watch tetralogy was duly translated into English and has sold more than two million copies.

32 P U B L I S H E R S



4 ,

2 0 1 1

Denis Osokin

His novella Yellowhammers has been turned into an award- winning film—known as Silent Souls outside of Russia—and won him the White Elephant award for best script. But way before that, in 2001, Osokin won the Debut Prize for a short story, “Angels & Revolution: Vyatka 1923.” Osokin is known for his documentaries on the culture and traditions of the peo- ple in the Volga region.

Viktor Pelevin

Known for satire-rich fantasy novels, Pelevin won the Readers’ Choice Award and the third prize at the Big Book Award for his novel T last year. His short story collection The Blue Lan- tern won the 1993 Russian Little Booker Prize. His eccentric- ity (including shying away from the media) is clearly reflected in the inscription to his novel Babylon: “Any thought that occurs in the process of reading this book is subject to copy- right. Unauthorized thinking of it is prohibited.”

Olga Slavnikova

Her novel 2017 won the Russian Booker Prize in 2006 and was translated into English last year. She is also the director for the Debut Prize, an independent literary prize for young authors under 25 writing in Russian. Immortal, her third novel, won the Apollon Grigoriev Prize in 2001 and was shortlisted for both the Belkin Prize and National Bestseller Prize. It is currently available only in French and German translations.

Ludmila Ulitskaya

Daniel Stein, Interprete r is Ulitskaya’s fourth book to be translated into English. Altogether, she has written 14 novels, several children’s stories, and many plays. Her collection of awards includes the Russian Booker (2001) for Kukotsky’s Case and the Big Book Prize (2007) for Daniel Stein, with nominations for the International Booker Prize in 2009.

Tatiana Ustinova

Billed as the third most read writer in Russia with more than 30 million copies in print, Ustinova has been translated into several European languages. Her novels, about 30 of them, combine detective work, brutal crimes, comedy, and love sto- ries—sort of Tess Gerritsen meets Nora Roberts meets Janet Evanovich. About 15 of her novels have been adapted into fea- ture films.