Update: The German Book Trade’s Efforts for Ukraine

In News by Porter Anderson

Efforts to assist Ukrainian refugee kids with books are paying off in Germany and Poland as colleagues support Ukraine’s book industry.

The ‘Books Without Borders’ initiative from the Ukrainian Book Institute and Federation of European Publishers is supported by Germany’s Börsenverein and has delivered 5,000 kids’ books for refugee children in Germany as well as 5,000 in Poland. Image: Börsenverein, Kateryna Ishchenko

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Ukrainian Refugee Kids in Germany Receiving Books
The Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, today (June 15) is updating the news media on progress with two industry-based efforts in response to Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine.

As Publishing Perspectives reported from Italy at the time, “Books Without Borders” is a crowdfunding campaign that was opened at Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March by the Ukrainian Book Institute with the support of the Federation of European Publishers. The intent of the project is to print children’s books for refugee families from Ukraine.

Today’s information is that an initial 5,000 books have been distributed to refugees in Poland, where the brunt of the Ukrainian population’s flight has been felt. In a related development reported by the Associated Press and Euronews, Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has said in today’s informal talks with several NATO members in the Netherlands, is calling on the alliance “to do much more to deliver weapons, artillery to Ukraine. … Where is our credibility if Ukraine fails?”

Today we learn that following Poland’s receipt of 5,000 books, Germany has been the second recipient, again of 5,000 copies. A patron of the initiative is Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Börsenverein is supporting implementation in Germany, in alliance with the Federation of European Publishers. A connection for the “Books Without Borders” effort and the German book trade, of course, is Peter Krauss vom Cleff who is both general manager of the Börsenverein and president of the federation.

Peter Kraus vom Cleff

He says in a statement today, “With the books, we want to give hope to the Ukrainian children on the run, in the form of a story that helps them to forget their own reality for a moment.

“Many have lived through weeks and months of anxiety and worry. It’s all the more important that they feel safe and welcome here. We would like to thank all the organizations that support us with the distribution, and especially the Ukrainian publishers involved, to whom the federation will make a separate donation after the project is complete.”

In practical terms, Ukrainian children’s books going into Germany are delivered to the Berlin offices of the Börsenverein and the state associations in Bavaria, North and South Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia. From those entry points, the books then are moved to roughly 20 organizations and communities involved with the refugee work on the ground.

At this writing, the crowdfunding page behind this effort shows a total €41,701 donated (US$43,702) in donations.

German Book Industry Colleagues’ Donations

As you may know, many professionals in the German publishing industry have also responded to an appeal for assistance from the Ukrainian Association of Publishers and the Börsenverein, enabling publishers, booksellers, authors, and others—including colleagues formerly and currently with Frankfurter Buchmesse—have worked to raise support for members of the book business in Ukraine.

To date, the Börsenverein reports, more than €30,000 has been raised by that effort (US$31,383).  And that aid has been distributed, we’re told, to more than 20 publishing houses and bookstores in Ukraine to help them cope with the nightmare—that distribution assisted by the Ukrainian Toloka Foundation.

That project is sponsored by Oleksandr Afonin, president of the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association, and Mykola Chayun, an association board member. Membership in the association is not required to receive support. In principle, the aid funds are accessible to all publishers, bookstores, and authors in Ukraine.

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 Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here. More on the Ukrainian Book Institute is here. And more on the Federation of European Publishers is here. More on the Börsenverein is here, and more on the freedom to publish and the freedom of expression is here.

Our thanks to Jacks Thomas (Bologna Book Plus) and Anne Bergman (FEP) for their special assistance in this coverage.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.