By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘Impossible Without Ukrainian Voices’As Tbilisi nears the conclusion of its year as UNESCO’s 2021 World Book Capital, the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association has opened registration through Friday (April 1) for an April 11 and 12 staging of the Caucasus and Black Sea Basin Countries’ Regional Publishing Conference.
Some 30 publishers and other representatives are participating as speakers, representing countries including Georgia, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine, along with representatives of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and PEN America.
A hybrid format with digital availabilities has been set up for Ukrainian participants who may not be able to travel to Tbilisi because of the crisis created by Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked Russian war on Ukraine. One of those participants, Yulia Kozlovets, of the Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv is familiar to our readership for her interview from earlier this month.
Conference organizers say they have not invited Russian publishing professionals to participate because of the ongoing violence.
Topics are expected to include:
- Translations from the region: How can smaller linguistic cultures can gain sufficient market presence in larger cultures
- Freedom of the press: Challenges of censorship in the region;
- Copyright issues and the impact of the COVID-19 era
- Regional book fairs as cultural hubs
- Literature from war zones
- Promoting and popularizing reading
- Bookstores and the book trade in the regions: pandemic challenges and online sales
- Book editors’ selection of international literature and the promotion of local contemporary writers
- Book marketing challenges for independent and small publishers
In a prepared statement, Ninia Macharashvili, the director of the Tbilisi World Book Capital program, is quoted, saying, “One of the main objectives of our World Book Capital plan is promoting the Georgian publishing sector and strengthening international contacts.
“Throughout the year, we’ve implemented a number of projects in this direction, independently, as well as in partnership. We’re glad that this time, our international publishing conference will be held in Tbilisi.
“Apart from ensuring direct communication, experience sharing, and planning of future collaborations between Georgian and foreign publishing houses, it will be a timely and relevant platform for publishing houses of various countries to demonstrate united support for Ukraine and Ukrainian publishing houses, and to schedule a number of incentives and charitable projects for the Ukrainian people and publishing houses.”
And Gvantsa Jobava—well known to Publishing Perspectives readers as the deputy chair of the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association and an IPA executive committee member—says, “The staging of a regional publishing conference across Caucasus and Black Sea countries has been a long-standing dream of the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association. This became possible with the support of the Tbilisi World Book Capital project.
“The purpose is clear: Events of this kind enable publishing professionals from our region to deepen or build new relationships with each other. Despite the territorial proximity, we believe that there are far greater cooperative prospects among the book sectors of our countries than have developed so far.
“Of course, when scheduling this conference, we had no idea that implementation would take place in light of the most horrific war in our region in recent times.
“Moreover, the two countries involved in the war, Ukraine and Russia, belong to the countries of the Black Sea basin. It’s difficult for us to get used to the idea that our Ukrainian colleagues will not be able to attend the conference with us because of this ruthless war. However, using experience gained during the pandemic, we’ve offered Ukrainian publishing houses chances to participate in the conference through online platforms. It is impossible to hold a conference in this region without Ukrainian voices being heard; we cannot tolerate that.
“As for Russia, we had to make a difficult but fair decision. Despite the fact that we were planning to invite independent Russian publishing houses to the conference, because of the war, we decided that it’s time for a boycott. We’re confident that Russian publishing houses, which are critical of their government and in anguish over this unjust war, are not yet ready to step onto the stage, and will understand the significance and purpose of this mass boycott.
“Currently our full attention and care is channeled toward Ukraine, where innocent people and children die every day.
“With Georgia being a country that has lost its territories twice in the last 30 years to similar unjust wars waged by Russia—as a result of which 20 percent of the country is currently occupied by Russia—we understand the current situation in Ukraine better than anyone and appreciate the price of unconditional solidarity from rest of the world toward Ukraine.”
With opening remarks from Jobava, from World Book Capital Tbilisi director Ninia Macharashvili, and International Publishers Association president Bodour Al Qasimi, the program’s other speakers include:
- José Borghino, secretary-general of the International Publishers Association
- James Taylor, director of communications and freedom to publish, IPA
- Jessica Sänger, legal counsel, director for European and international affairs, German Publishers Association; chair of IPA copyright committee;
- Trasvin Jittidecharak, freedom to publishcCommittee member, IPA. publisher, Silkworm Books
- Tinatin Beriashvili, executive director, Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association
- Zviad Kvaratskhelia, publisher, writer, Intelekti
- Tina Mamulashvili , publisher, Sulakauri Publishing
- Natasha Lomouri, director of Writers’ House of Georgia
- Irakli Kakabadze, writer, translator
- Paata Shamugia, president of PEN Georgia
- Irakli Gagnidze, eirector of Biblusi Bookstores
- Yulia Kozlovets, coordinator, International Book Arsenal Festival, Mystetskyi Arsenal
- Andrey Kurkov, writer, president of PEN Ukraine
- Oksana Khmelyovska, professional development programs curator, International Book Arsenal Festival, co-founder and editor-in-chief, Chytomo (See our story on Khmelyovska’s co-founder Iryna Baturevych here.)
- Bohdana Neborak , editor in chief, The Ukrainians
- Merve Diler, literary agent in nonfiction, Kalem Literary Agency
- Mehmet Erkurt, editor, deputy editor-in-chief at Can Çocuk Yayınları
- Rüyam Yılmaz, bookstore owner, Gergedan Kitabevi
- Armen Martirosyan, CEO, Antares Publishing
- Arevik (Ari) Ashkharoyan, founder and literary agent, ARI Literary and Talent Agency, ARI Literature Foundation
- Armen Ohanyan, president, PEN Armenia
- Nigar Kocharli, CEO and founder, Ali and Nino Bookstores, Ali and Nino Publishing
- Shahbaz Khuduoglu, CEO, founder Qanun Publishing
- Gunel Movlud (Imanova), writer
- Dan Croitoru, editorial director, Editura Polirom
- Bogdan Alexandru Stanescu, editorial director, PandoraM Publishing
- Mihai Mitrica, executive director, Romanian Publishers Association
- Svetlozar Zhelev, director, National Book Center, Sofia, Bulgaria
- Desislava Alexieva, chair, Bulgarian Book Association
- Manol Peikov, publisher, translator, Janet 45 Publishing
- Emma House – International Publishing Consultant
- Polina Sadovskaya – program director, Eurasia
Follow our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions.
More on the Georgian publishing industry and book market is here. More on the freedom to publish and the freedom of expression is here, and more on international book publishing conference events is here.
Publishing Perspectives is the media partner of the International Publishers Association.
More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.