Ukraine: A Shipment of 25,000 Books From Book Aid International

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With leading support from Hachette UK and Oxford University Press, Book Aid’s shipment for kids and adults is in distribution.

A part of the 25,000-copy Book Aid International and PEN Ukraine shipment of books in preparation for transport to Kyiv. Image: Book Aid international

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

Kurkov: ‘Our Desire To Engage With World Culture’
Even as international support for Ukraine’s effort to defend itself from Vladimir Putin’s assault on the country comes under question in some countries—and has been overshadowed for many by the crisis in Gaza—Book Aid International this autumn organized a 25,000-book donation to Ukrainian libraries, as part as PEN Ukraine‘s “Unbreakable Libraries” initiative.

Our readership may recall our August story in which the program was issuing calls for donations of books and/or funding to help support the effort. At that point, Book Aid personnel expected this shipment of books to make it to the wartorn country by September. Instead, that outlook moved to November, when the nonprofit aid organization reported that this major shipment was, in fact, moving.

Much of the content of this shipment is deemed especially good for those in Ukraine who are working on their command of English, although the percentage of English as a Second Language (ESL) books, per se, is actually quite low. This is because, spokespeople tell us, the effort emphasizes literature that can help support those learning English but not necessarily specific ESL content.

Book Aid says that 15,000 of the books have been donated by Hachette UK.

Andrey Kurkov

Andrey Kurkov, a Ukrainian writer published by Hachette—often a speaker about the cause of supporting the country’s publishing and cultural life—says, “Russian aggression tore us out of normal life, but it did not take away our desire to engage with world culture and world literature.

“Ukrainians are curious and multilingual readers. This campaign from Book Aid International is of great importance for the whole of Ukraine and for all Ukrainians.”

Oxford University Press made a significant financial donation to support the effort, CEO Nigel Portwood being quoted, saying, “We are proud to support Book Aid International, sharing the belief that books have the power to transform people’s lives and unlock opportunities.

“Having seen the impact of Book Aid International’s work over many years now, we know that this initiative with PEN Ukraine will make a real difference to those who have faced immeasurable challenges as a result of the war.”

Books for Adults, Not Just Youngsters

Hachette UK volunteers pack books for Book Aid International’s 25,000-copy shipment for Ukraine. Image: Book Aid International

Publishing Perspectives understands that—unlike many previous fine book-lifts to Ukraine and to Ukrainian refugees—this one has the distinction of including not only books for children but also for adults.

We were provided, at our request, with a breakdown of the material moving toward Kyiv, and it’s encouraging:

  • 58 percent of the books shipped are for children and teens, including everything from board books to teen fiction
  • 4 percent of the books comprise higher and further education titles, some of the few that are directly created as ESL instructional books, plus some for professional use and reference
  • 38 percent of the titles included are adult fiction and leisure reading, as well as nonfiction

Alison Tweed

PEN Ukraine has the responsibility of distributing the books to libraries, hundreds of which are reported to have badly damaged or entirely destroyed collections.

In a comment on the program, Book Aid CEO Alison Tweed, says, “For people living with the war in Ukraine, we know that libraries have become places of safety and refuge for communities, as well as havens where reading and learning can continue.

“I’d like to warmly thank Hachette UK, Oxford University Press, and other publishers who have supported this shipment and all the publishers who donate books to support all the work we do.”


Our coverage of the Russian war’s impact on Ukraine’s publishing industry is here, along with international reactions. More from Publishing Perspectives on Book Aid International is here, more on children’s books is here, and more on charitable efforts in world 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.

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