Frankfurt: Polish Book Institute Expands Its Programs and Outreach

In News by Publishing Perspectives Staff

The Polish Book Institute at Frankfurt has 47 publishers, a fresh catalogue, and recently was guest of honor at book fairs in Asia and Europe. (Sponsored)

The Polish Book Institute’s guest of honor stand at the Taiwan International Book Exhibition in January and February. Image: Lukasz Jarocki

Publishing Perspectives Staff Report

A Year of Expansion for Polish Literature
With its stand at 4.1, D24 at Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22), the Polish Book Institute‘s program has gained new visibility this year, in part with its guest-of-honor appearances at two influential international book fairs.

A large delegation of 47 exhibitors will be represented on the Polish collective stand, where guidance will be offered as to the highest-visibility titles from the Polish market this year, last year’s bestselling books for children and young adults, and a the unveiling of an updated catalogue.

In late January and early February, Taipei International Book Exhibition welcomed Guest of Honor Poland and its big stand, which became a quick landmark on the huge exhibition floor, with its red-and-white medallions.

Having referred to the Taiwan display as being designed to represent “Poland in a nutshell,” the institute’s director, Dariusz Jaworski, said at the closing of the Taiwan show, “I believe that in these times of tension and various dangers, literature can bring salvation. And this is what I wholeheartedly wish for you, dear friends, and for us.”

The institute reports that the Taiwan appearance has resulted in new translations of Polish titles into Chinese, and gave participating Polish publishers a chance to establish contact with new counterparts in Asia. A part of the Polish program’s emphasis on the market’s support for Ukraine was reflected in the presentation of the musical ensemble Dagadana, which for some 15 years has been combining elements of Polish and Ukrainian culture in jazz, electronica, and world music. Singer and composer Daga Gregorowicz commented, “The Taiwanese understand us very well because they feel the breath of the enemy on their backs. Taiwan was one of the first countries to send very large medical support to Ukraine. In our everyday conversations we feel like brothers and sisters with them, even though we live very far away.”

The institute has announced that Poland will return to Taipei for its big book fair next year.

And earlier this month, running October 4 to 6, the annual book fair in Spain, Liber, welcomed Poland as its guest of honor. This year set in Madrid (the Spanish show alternates between the capital and Barcelona), Liber is a trade-oriented program, and the Polish Book Institute team was involved in meetings, panels on the Polish market, and focal points of discussion including ebooks and rights sales, accompanied by cultural programming.

Agnieszka Urbanowska

Agnieszka Urbanowska, who heads up the institute’s relations with foreign partners, says, “For several years, we have been working consistently to increase the number of Polish books translated into Spanish.

“We hope that our presence at Liber will enhance the presence and visibility of Polish literature and culture not only in Spain, but throughout the Spanish-speaking world.”

Later this year, Poland will be part of the Guest of Honor Europe program at the Guadalajara International Book Fair (November 25 to December 3), with an eye to introducing Polish authors to the attendees of Latin America’s largest event of its kind, while putting Polish publishers in touch with their counterparts in the region for rights trades.

And in May, the Polish Book Institute made its first appearance at the 35th Salone Internazionale del Libro di Torino in May.

Urbanowska says, “We plan to gradually expand our presence at this trade fair, which attracts an infinite number of Italian readers,” this year a reported 215,000. “We want to do this both by exhibiting, offering events for Italian readers, and by meeting the needs of publishers from Poland.”

Special Outreach: The ‘Polish Shelf’ Project

Dariusz Jaworski

While having worked to support Ukrainians last year inside Poland, the Book Institute this year is launching a new outreach program, the “Polish Shelf” project.

In this case, the institute prints—in Ukraine—Polish books translated into Ukrainian and donates those books to Ukrainian libraries, many of which have seen their collections badly damaged if not destroyed.

Dariusz Jaworski, the Polish Book Institute’s director, explains the importance of the Polish Shelf effort, saying, “Ukraine’s library infrastructure has been severely affected during the ongoing war with Russia. However, even before the outbreak of full-scale war, roughly half of the collection consisted of books published before 1991, in addition in Russian.

“It’s highly desirable to supplement the collection with valuable positions in Ukrainian translated from European languages, including Polish. And that’s why we are implementing this project, a cooperation with the Ukrainian Book Institute and Ukrainian publishers, printers, and associations related to the book market.

“We’ll purchase and deliver packages of 10 to 15 books by Polish authors to 1,500 Ukrainian libraries. These will include classics of Polish literature, as well as the latest titles.”

In this way, as the the Book Institute’s staff describes the Polish Shelf project, “We’re not only helping to rebuild collections destroyed by the war, but we’re also helping Ukrainians to tell their history in a new, truthful way, uncontaminated by Russian propaganda.”

Elsewhere, the Polish Book Institute reports that it’s not only supporting but also expanding its flagship programs to support publishers and translators.

For example, the organization’s lead copyright translation program has been broadened, thanks to a decision by the ministry of culture to allocate 5 million zlotys (US$1.1 million) to support foreign editions of Polish literature. It’s anticipated that this year will see close to 230 foreign publications of Polish books, with the support of the program’s expanded funding.

Frankfurt 2023 Events

The institute is inviting the international publishing community to a reception at its stand on Frankfurt Wednesday, October 19, a 5 p.m., a moment to celebrate a year of international guest-of-honor appearances in Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and to present to trade visitors literary highlights from its new catalogue of Polish titles.

The institute is observing the 10th anniversary of its Albrecht Lempp Scholarship with a specially produced graphic, which can be seen at the stand at Frankfurt. The scholarship was established by three organizations—the Polish Book Institute, the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, and the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation. It honors the late Polish-German translator (1953-2012) by having German and Polish translators work, a month at a time, in each other’s countries, in writing, translating, and research. More than 20 translators from the two nations have been recipients of the program’s support so far. This year’s winners of the scholarship—chosen from 41 entries—are Dariusz Sośnicki and Antje Ritter-Miller.

As Frankfurt Weekend arrives, the institute is organizing two programs at their stand (Hall 3.1, D68) with Wiotld Szabłowski, the author of What’s Cooking in the Kremlin to promote the book’s German edition: Saturday , October 21 at 12 p.m.; and Sunday, October 22 at 12 p.m.

And also on October 22, at 1 p.m. in Frankfurt Studio, the institute will be promoting the German edition of Marek Kamiński: Jak zdobyć bieguny Ziemi… w rok by author Agata Loth-Ignaciuk and illustrator Bartłomiej Ignaciuk (Marek Kamiński: How to Conquer the Poles of the Earth … in a Year). 

Dorothea Traupe’s translation to German of this book for younger readers and adults was supported by the institute’s translation programs and has been published in Germany by Gerstenberg Verlag.

The book is about Marek Kamiński’s feat of reportedly reaching both the North and South Poles in one year without outside assistance.

Author Loth-Ignaciuk has a reputation for her work in climate-focused work for young readers, while illustrator Ignaciuk works in television series and commercials.

The Polish Book Institute’s collective stand. Image: Lukasz Jarocki


This artticle is from our Publishing Perspectives Frankfurt Book Fair Magazine, which will be available free of charge in print throughout Frankurter Buchmesse—and in a digital edition (also free) here on our news site—on October 18 as Buchmesse opens. 

Our Publishing Perspectives Frankfurt Book Fair magazine, releases October 18,

The magazine has previews of programming from our Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurt including our Executive Talks with Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya and Nanmeebooks’ Kim Chongsatitwana; highlights of key events at the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse; and coverage of Frankfurt’s upcoming guest of honor programs (Italy, the Philippines, the Czech Republic) and this year’s Guest of Honor Slovenia.

There’s also news of literary agents and agencies; award-winning books from guest of honor markets; focus articles on artificial intelligence, sustainability; and a forthcoming effort to get more Korean literature into world markets; as well as 75th-anniversary “Frankfurt Moments.” Be sure to get your copy of the magazine when you arrive at Buchmesse on Wednesday, or download it here at Publishing Perspectives.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Polish Book Institute is here, more on the Polish market is here, and more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here.

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