Publishing in Russia 2011

are concentrated in two cities: Moscow and St. Petersburg. One can easily meet 85% of the industry players just in Moscow 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). Publishers 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 publishing has become more demand-based. Here is a country where cloth-bound children’s books are more common than By Teri Tan those in paperback. There lies the snob appeal, as paperbacks are perceived to Talk about transformation. In a span of 20 years, the Russian cater for the lower-income brackets. These unique characteristics have probook market has made a 180-degree shift, from state-owned duced some challenges along with opporpublishing and distribution to privately held (except for a few tunities within the industry. And no one knows better, or can offer clearer observaexceptions) and increasingly client driven. Every component tions, than the insiders. Andrew Nurnberg, of the eponymous of its book market was created overnight, after state-owned rights agency (the first to set up shop in publishing and the infrastructure supporting distribution and Moscow), says, “Smaller publishers have been having a tough time trying to keep retailing collapsed. ahead of the game, not least because the large companies uch transformation have deep pockets when it comes has resulted in sevto author advances. Yet some of eral characteristics these publishers, by virtue of unique to the marhaving a smaller output, have ket. For instance, been able to invest time, energy, one will find huge and marketing resources to good publishing conglomerates proeffect. For example, they have ducing a staggering number of begun to invite international publications in a single day. authors to Russia for promoEksmo and AST, the two behetional tours. The quality of their moths that control nearly 45% translations is improving, as are of the market, have published jacket designs and overall promore than 600 titles per month duction. But the Russian pubin recent years—something lishing industry is suffering On display at Moscow Dom Knigi are translated titles including that is unheard of in the rest of from poor distribution—in fact, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Mary Higgins Clark’s I the world. some distributors even got into Heard That Song Before, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Jack Big publishers have also Kerouac’s On the Road, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed. financial difficulties—as well as integrated vertical chains that from high production costs and may include wholesaling, bricks-andvices and online distribution. These serlow retail prices. Russian readers, howmortar bookselling, online retailing, and vices are in turn offered to smaller pubever, have been privileged to be able to digital content aggregation. Growth in lishers. buy cheap books, and it is a true pleasure the e-book segment, meanwhile, has It is also worth noting that, for a counto see bookshops filled with readers pursome branching out into digitization sertry so vast, publishing and distribution chasing five or six books at a time.”

Broadening its presence abroad while transforming its domestic infrastructure

The Dynamic Russian Book Market


W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M



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

Publishing in Russia 2011
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 professional 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 dozens of versions, and there are few illustrated editions for teenage readers.” (Incidentally, professionalism in publishing is the goal of the Printing Arts department of Moscow State University. The rector, Professor Alexander Tsyganenko, launched the country’s first master’s degree in publishing in partnership with Oxford Brookes University last year.) E-books and online bookstores, Kondratov adds, “are the modern facets of the book industry, and both have been happening in Russia for quite some time. But despite this fervor for digital titles, libraries—no matter how technologically advanced—should continue to stock print books.” Victor Fedorov, president of the Russian State Library—the third largest in the world with 43 million 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 success. “This arises primarily because foreign publishers find it very difficult to set the price for digital rights for our market. Consequently, many titles quickly became available in digital format 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,

I believe, should be commensurate with sellers hit millions of copies, while forthe quality of a book. There is a definite eign titles make up less than 13% of all need for some adjustment in the e-book titles published in 2010, we fully market.” expect to see increased rights activity In view of the need to close the loopwith the West and Asia in the near holes, encourage reading, and promote future,” adds v-p Alexandra Shipetina Russian literature abroad, several organi(also v-p of Centrepolygraph), who will zations have been hard at work to push be traveling to the Beijing Internathat agenda. tional Book Fair this August with The most important and aggressive is other RBU delegates, and working on the Federal Agency of Press and Mass events for the 2012 BookExpo AmerCommunications (FAPMC). It is responica. Meanwhile, government funds for sible for implementing new technoloreading promotions and antipiracy gies, promoting reading, and providing campaigns are on their way to RBU. a regulatory framework for the industry. The seven-year-old Mikhail ProkhoIts goals are also to promote Russian litrov Foundation is a privately funded erature and forge closer links with the organization aggressively promoting rest of the publishing world. Deputy contemporary Russian literature and head Vladimir Grigoriev, one of the thought to the world. Irina Prokhofounders of the prestigious Russian Big rova, cofounder and chairperson of the Book Prize, is a key driver in the camexpert board (as well as publisher/edipaign to put Russia on the global pubtor of NLO, or New Literary Observer), lishing map because, as he has said, says, “Our Transcript program is an “Russian literature should know no international grant competition, in boundaries.” which we provide translation supNext comes the Russian Book Union port—in any foreign language—for (RBU). It represents the whole book Russian fiction and nonfiction titles.” community, encompassing the publishAmong the 31 authors supported by ing, printing, library, and educational Transcript last year were Victor Zhisectors. Keeping its 200 full (and 1,500 vov (Languages and Culture in Russia in associate) members abreast of developthe 18th Century), V. Voinovich (The ments pertinent to the industry is the Displaced Person), and Leo Klein (The organization’s main focus. Less known Phenomenon of Soviet Archaeology). Tranbut no less important is RBU’s relief proscript, launched two years ago with a gram to help provincial bookstores cope budget of $400,000 annually, accepts with high rents and competition from applications year-round. So far, more retail chains that are selling more profitthan 530 have been processed, of able goods. Last year, which 102 have been RBU, with support from granted. “Selections are FAPMC, managed to permade four times a year suade the customs departwith the final decision ment to maintain tax based on four main criterelief on imported paper ria: total rights fee and meant for the book pubtranslation cost, quality lishing industry. of translation, imporPromotion of Russian tance of the author or literature abroad is not title, and publisher’s yet on RBU’s agenda, but reputation.” it is working on more The foundation also events to promote coopestablished the NOSE eration between Russia (New Prose) literary prize and the international Alexandra Shipetina, v-p of the in honor of 19th-century publishing community. Russian Book Union (as well novelist Nikolai Gogol on “Since our national best- as v-p of Centrepolygraph) the 200th anniversary of

P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

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: Centr al Books/Inpress USA: Consortium Book Sales and Distribution

Publishing in Russia 2011
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 English: 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 characteristics 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 Rossica, which is focused on a springboard for conpromoting cultural and temporary Russian literaintellectual links between ture to reach a new level Russia and the Englishof popularity.” speaking world. “After The government is three successful years of also stepping up its presenting Russian efforts in copyright proauthors at the Books from tection. One area of conRussia stand at London tention is the issue of Book Fair and BEA, Aca- Svetlana Adjoubei, director of public domain. One demia Rossica and the Academia Rossica landmark case occurred Russian Federal Agency last June when AST was for Mass Communication have ordered to compensate Terra Publishlaunched a two-year programme,” says ing 7.6 billion rubles ($250 million). Academia director Svetlana Adjoubei, The author at the center of the legal “promoting contemporary Russia litwrangle is a Russian household name: erature in the English-speaking world. sci-fi novelist Alexander Belyaev. Beginning with the Russia Market Though the author died in 1942, his Focus at the London Book Fair, the works (under the Berne Convention’s programme continues with the Global stipulation of life plus 70 years) have Market Forum: Russia at the 2012 not entered the public domain. Terra Book Expo America.” This programme obtained permission from the author’s is supported by the launch of the transdaughter to produce 630 sets of a sixlation grants provided by the Russkiy volume deluxe edition priced at Mir Foundation and coordinated by $3,800. AST, using post-Berne terms Academia Rossica. (life plus 50 years), published 30,000 “Our organization facilitates relacopies of the author’s collected works tionships between writers, literary on the premise that the content is in agents, publishers and translators,” the public domain. AST is appealing Adjoubei continues. “The translation the judgment. grant, for instance, is another way of Challenges and loopholes aside, there encouraging publishers to translate is one message from many industry playRussian works. Information about ers for their overseas counterparts, either Russian writers and agents, sample clearly communicated or subtly contranslations, and a selection of Russian veyed to PW during our visit for this titles in various languages will be report: given the new face of the Russian available from the Russian stand. book industry, it is high time for the “British and American readers mostly world to move on from Tolstoy, Dosknow 19th-century classic Russian writtoyevski, and Chekhov (no offense ers, maybe a handful of those from the intended) to newer, fresher voices. 20th century, but at most one or two As such, visiting the St. Petersburg contemporary writers. Our aim is to Book Fair (in April), Moscow Book Fair present the range of contemporary Rus(August), and Non/Fiction Fair (Decemsian literature, including detective stober) or stopping at the Russian book ries, thrillers, sci-fi, biographies, and stand at the 2011 London Book Fair or historical fiction. This is a unique oppor2012 Book Expo America should be on tunity for the English-speaking world to the itinerary of any publisher or rights meet such bestselling novelists as Boris agency wanting a better understanding Akunin, Polina Dashkova, Dmitry of the Russian publishing industry and Glukhovsky, Sergei Kostin, Sergey its players. Lukyanenko, and Anna Storabinets who Now let us start our journey to are shaping Russia’s contemporary culuncover new collaborators, authors, ture. We hope that our programme at and opportunities in the largest counthe London Book Fair and BEA will be try in the world. ■

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

A novel by Russ Colchamiro
“A strong debut from a very imaginative writer.” —Publishers Weekly 3 Finger Prints:
3 Finger Prints Publishing 2010 Paperback $13.99 USA (301p) ISBN: 978-0-9794801-4-0 4
RUSS_1/6V.indd 1 2/10/11 2:17 PM

P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

Publishing in Russia 2011
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 company was founded, the intention was to get Russian readers acquainted with world literature, both classic and contemporary. But through the years, we also have built up a strong Russian literature base—again both classic and contemporary. There are several contemporary Russian authors whom we are honored to represent and publish, and we use every opportunity to produce more originals. For instance, we have sold millions of copies of works by Sergey Dovlatov, Joseph Brodsky, and Vladimir Nabokov—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 Kryutchenko’s opinion of contemporary originals: “Russians are only now beginning to review what happened during the perestroika 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.” Vitrouk is busy promoting several authors

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.
of banned titles. Unfortunately, new writers 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 published in the early 2000s and are gradually becoming known here and abroad.” Let’s get a closer look at the industry through the operations of 14 publishers (in alphabetical order).

o one sums up the industry today better than Natasha Perova, publisher and founder of GLAS: “Pulp fiction triumphs over literary fiction—in Russia and elsewhere. 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 censorship 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, AzbookaAtticus holds exclusive rights to such authors as Janus Leon Wisniewski, Milan

Arkady Vitrouk, CEO of Azbooka-Atticus
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M


Publishing in Russia 2011
including Yevgeny Grishkovetz. “His titles invariably sell more than 100,000 copies each, and they have been translated into German, French, and Norwegian. 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, AzbookaAtticus 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: proliferation. Basically, every Russian publisher—and that includes us—produces some children’s titles. Although the segment has not grown that much, the supply 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 popups 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)
Rank Rank Publisher Title output Publisher Total no. of copies
(in thousands)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Eksmo AST Prosveshcheniye Azbooka-Atticus Rosman Drofa OLMA Media Group Fenix Ripol Classic Ekzamen Veche Centrepolygraph Piter Mir Knigi Ventana-Graf

9,663 9,333 1,646 1,481 1,146 1,115 1,099 1,016 979 894 894 732 622 587 455

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Eksmo AST Prosveshcheniye Drofa Azbooka-Atticus Ekzamen Rosman OLMA Media Group Ripol Classic Ventana-Graf Mir Knigi Centrepolygraph Veche Piter Fenix

78,804 72,255 48,791 17,122 14,913 14,556 12,317 10,632 8,194 6,916 6,372 4,787 3,973 3,061 3,058


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 happen. 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 discourage illegal scanning of our titles.”

From its humble beginning as a bookshop 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: Stephen 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

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, “content 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 partners, for setting the standards in merging content and creativity.” For the foreseeable future, AST (derived from the first letter of three of the directors’ names: 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 simply cannot afford to see such a vast distribution 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-

P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

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 offer:

– Full or partial payment of the rights; – Full or partial financing of translation – Partial support of printing costs
for non-fiction books.

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).

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.

Publishing in Russia 2011
graphics. “The 1 to 10 age group is estimated to be thrice the size of the 17 to 25 group. There is going to be tremendous pressure on kindergartens and primary 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 agencies are undertaking.”

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 Russia. With 81 million copies printed per year and around 10,000 titles in its catalogue, Eksmo has major stakes in different sectors of the book industry, including 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 history) 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 company also owns publishing and retail concerns in Ukraine. The only Russian publishing company to run a mySAP ERP system to integrate the various divisions in its vast operation, Eksmo currently has eight regional distribution centers, both in Russia and outside— Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Ekaterinburg, Rostov-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

Dmitry Shipetin, chairman of Centrepolygraph

This has been the Russian home of Harlequin for the past 16 months. The popularity of such Harlequin authors as Nora Roberts, Tess Gerritsen, and Debbie Macomber is making Centrepolygraph’s latest publishing program a runaway 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 distribution 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

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 business segments. With translations currently accounting for around 25% of its catalogue, Centrepolygraph is known in Russia for introducing such authors as Peter James, Ann Granger, James Hadley 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 politicians—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 company is also famous for another original series of more than 100 autobiographies in the history of Russia during the Communist 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 nonfiction author Valery Sinelnikov, whose You Must Love Your Illness has six million copies 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.”

Oleg Novikov, CEO of Eksmo

P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

Publishing in Russia 2011
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. 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 cultural differences and bring people closer,” Perova says. “Consortium has started distributing 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 winners. “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 winner—to provide glimpses of present-day Russia, its thoughts and its future direction. Aside from the English and Chinese editions out in 2010, we also launched the French edition last February. Others—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 English 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 literature is still deeply entrenched in the classics. Language and cultural barriers are further obstacles to translation of Russian works. On the other hand, Englishspeaking countries are notoriously selfsufficient, 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-

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

emerging as its strongest (and bestknown) segment. Foreign names in its catalogue (of which 25% are translations) include Stieg Larsson, Danielle Steele, Haruki Murakami, Arturo PérezReverte, Agatha Christie (since 2008), and Eoin Colfer. As for Russian authors, this is the house of Darya Dontsova, Tatyana Tolstaya, Tatiana Ustinova, Ludmila 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

Few publishing houses work harder than GLAS to promote works by contemporary Russian authors. Winner of the Rossica Prize for best translations in 2007 (for 7 Stories by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky) and again in 2009 (Iramifications by Maria Galina), GLAS has just partnered with Consortium Books to distribute its titles to non-British Commonwealth 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 publishers,” 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

Natasha Perova, founder and publisher of GLAS

10 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

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.

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

Publishing in Russia 2011
cow), as the upcoming voices of modern Russian literature. they grow while we expand our publishing 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.”

Wo n d e r f u l t h i n g s h a p p e n e d a t Meshcheryakov: a former banking executive 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. Bookstores, on the other hand, were very conservative 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 quantity and quality.” The latter is certainly in abundance when one thumbs through Meshcheryakov’s catalogue. A particularly striking title is The Insects’ Letters by biologist Olga Kuvykina. The 2010 Book of the Year, announced at the Moscow International Book Fair, was also a finalist in the Enlightener contest alongside 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

New Literary Observer (NLO)
Vadim Meshcheryakov, founder and publisher of Meshcheryakov

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

New Zealand author Margaret Mahy, whose works have been published only in magazines. The demand for foreign contemporary titles is stable but not high enough to generate bestsellers. Classics such as those by James M. Barry and L e w i s C a r r o l l r e m a i n p o p u l a r. ” 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 publishing for the Russian market instead of selling rights (“since we are truly a nonentity in the global publishing industry, and even more so when it comes to children’s books”). The dream of gathering all children’s publishers under one roof while providing a genre-specific distribution network prompted Meshcheryakov to set up Curiosity 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 booksellers to a varied range of children’s titles, and making available such selections to children in every corner of Russia.” 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

NLO specializes in the study of Russian culture in a global context. Last year, editor and publisher Irina Prokhorova published 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 question: 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 Anthropology of Culture, aimed at radically reevaluating 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

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

12 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

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

Publishing in Russia 2011
concept of man based on recent discoveries 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 Russian 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 Darnton’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 collection Smells and Aromas in a Cultural Context (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), Japanese (Boris Akunin’s Writer and Suicide) and Korean (Mikhail Yamposky’s Language-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 universities 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 significantly increased the citation rate.” Naturally, Prokhorova is very enthusiastic about e-books, especially for the academic 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 Russian e-books in the near future.” Qayyum’s Rubayat. “Culinary titles are becoming trendy, and one of our cookbooks, 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 originals by authors such as Anna Andrianova 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 inception, OLMA has published more than 27,000 titles. Holding firm to its business principle of zero investment in bookstores, it has opted to set up regional offices—about 16 of them—to directly deliver products to retail shops and outlets 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 publisher, we just want to see people continue reading in whichever format they like.”

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 Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and a bestselling 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 Charlotte 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 represent 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 Muldashev 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, Alexander 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 readers, and we have sold more than five million 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

Competitor and collaborator are sometimes 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 segment) 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-

Dmitry Ivanov, general director of OLMA Media Group

14 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

Publishing in Russia 2011
sell very well.) “We branched out into nonfiction children’s titles about two years ago, producing playbooks, educational CD/DVD/interactive titles, and parenting books. We also broadened our publishing program to offer economics and political journalism, besides strengthening our list in law, business, psychology, and medicine. These President Vadim Usmanov and general director Elena Nikol- new categories have proven skaya of Piter to be a good fit for us.” Bestsellers in 2010 include Paul ful, sales from this channel represent Ekman’s Telling Lies (200,000 copies barely 3% of our total business. One sold), Nikolay Starikov’s Crisi$: How to major challenge is that our universities, Create It (rights sold to Nova Zora of Bullike many others around the globe, suffer garia, DPF of Slovenia, and Ukrainian from a lack of government funding.” entrepreneur Tsirul Pavel), and Levin’s Usmanov believes that e-books and Computer: Teach Yourself (11th edition). multimedia titles are the future of the Five million copies of Levin’s titles have publishing industry. But the online platbeen sold to date. Adds Usmanov, “Two form is complex, adds general director years ago, at the start of the economic Elena Nikolskaya: “There is no proper crisis, the plan was to survive the downlegislation in place to prevent piracy of turn. Today, the mission is to expand our e-books or uploaded print books. Free business in various segments, whether in downloading is rampant, especially e-book or print. We are highly adaptable among students who want material from and proactive in this respect.” books that are usually very expensive and are only available in hardcover.” Still, there is no stopping Piter from venturing Ripol Classic beyond conventional publishing. Several At Ripol Classic, there is no bigger title months ago, it signed an agreement to in recent memory than Elizabeth Gilput titles in Apple’s iBookstore and bert’s Eat, Pray, Love, which has sold started participating in the Google more than 800,000 copies since its 2008 Books project. launch. Other translated bestsellers in The past 20 years saw Piter, one of the 2010 include Cassandra Clare’s Mortal top three academic publishers in Russia, Instruments trilogy and Bernard Werreleasing around 8,000 titles (totaling 92 ber’s The Mirror of Cassandra. Werber, a million copies in print run), 20% of French sci-fi novelist, is Ripol’s top which are translations from mostly author in terms of sales, with two million American publishers such as Pearson copies of his works printed and distribEducation, Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, uted in Russia. Cengage Learning, and O’Reilly. It has Originals make up nearly 60% of offices in 11 cities, including in Ukraine Ripol’s catalogue, and big authors include and Belarus, and takes up nearly 60% of Andrei Yasrebov with his books in the the Russian computer book market. Watching series, which together sold However, the segment’s drastic drop— more than 150,000 copies in 2010, and with nearly 50% contraction during the Victor Dragunsky with his Denis chil2008–2009 period—has prompted Piter dren’s series (60,000 copies). The last four to find new businesses. (Today, however, months also saw Ripol selling 30,000 professional computer titles, especially copies of Olga Lucas’s trilogy and 25,000 those by Alexander Levin, continue to of Sophia Catenina’s Will There Be Happiness. 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 fiction, 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 barrier 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,

Sergei Makarenkov, general director of Ripol Classic
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M


Publishing in Russia 2011
which means we need well-designed covers and better packaging to make books more appealing. Today, fiction blockbusters 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)
Author Rank

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Darya Dontsova Julia Shilova Arthur Conan Doyle Tatiana Ustinova Tatiana Polyakova Alexandra Marinina Alexandre Dumas Stephenie Meyer Boris Akunin Ekaterina Vilmont

Rosman Group
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 wizard, 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 success came only after the third book,” says president Mikhail Markotkin. “No one believed that this series would be successful 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 picture books. Bestselling exports, however, come from original children’s educa-


Top 10 authors in 2010
(children’s books)
Author Rank

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Kornei Chukovsky Vladimir Stepanov Agnia Barto Irina Gurina Hans Christian Andersen Samuil Marshak Charles Perrault Alexander Volkov Nikolai Nosov Grigory Oster

As such, the group has ventured beyond publishing. It provides comprehensive marketing services for children’s products, from localization/adaptation to complex nationwide multimedia promotional campaigns that involve content production for major TV channels. Rosman is now the official distributor for Hasbro, Mattel, and Giochi Preziosi. It has licenses from Hasbro for Littlest Pet Shop, Beyblade, and Tonka, and it works with Mattel, Disney Baby, and Cartoon Network on publishing and merchandise properties. It recently launched BellaSara 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 roll out an extensive marketing program to educate parents on the security of our online portal. This online/offline promotional campaign is essential for a successful product launch.” Adds Markotkin, “Aside from the huge Russian market, our proximity to neighboring countries such as Kazakhstan and Ukraine, and our understanding of them, allows us to develop comprehensive marketing plans that cover these regions for our overseas partners.”


Mikhail Markotkin, president of Rosman Group

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 million). These titles have been sold to 28 European publishers including Svojtka (Slovenia), Zvaigzne (Latvia), Toper (Serbia), Group 62 (Spain), and Fortuna Libri (Czech Republic). For Markotkin, the children’s segment is one of the brightest spots in the current Russian book industry. “We grew significantly in recent years, not because of natural market expansion but because we took over the market shares of companies that collapsed during the economic crisis. Future growth, however, has to come from beyond book sales. We have to look into online games, TV programs, and merchandise, all of which have huge market potential in Russia.”

ROSSPEN (or Russian Political Encyclopedia 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 ROSSPEN

16 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

Publishing in Russia 2011
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 Yeltsin President Centre Fund, the Russian State Archive, and a few other organizations 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 History of Stalinism project has been shortlisted for the IPA Freedom to Publish Prize twice—in 2009 and 2010. As to why a comprehensive and largescale study of Stalin is crucial, he says, “It is a fact, garnered from various sociological surveys, that more than 50% of the population judge Stalin’s role in Russian history to be positive, and the number 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 perspective.” 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 limited 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 anniversary of the 1812 Patriotic War, we hope to release a three-volume encyclopedia with several partners, including the State Historical Museum and the State Hermitage, to commemorate the event.”

Sergey Kondratov, founder and chairman of Terra

This is a unique publishing company founded and chaired by Sergey Kondratov, 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, including politicians (presidents and ministers past and present) and billionaire businessmen. “Titles produced for Montplaisir members are deluxe collectibles of vintage 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 crystals 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 Encyclopedia, and the three-volume World of Roerich.” In contrast, Marly Club, formed two years ago, serves a much wider membership 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.

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 Encyclopedia 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 overseas 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 publishing 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 multivolume 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
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M


Leonid Mlechin – Cold War Leonid Mlechin – Cold War

Igor Zimin – The Big World of Igor Zimin – The Big World of Imperial Residences Imperial Residences

Leonid Mlechin – KGB

David G. Chandler – The Campaigns of Napoleon

Valerij Sinelnikov – Mysteries of the Subconscious

Roman Haer – Perfect Job

Donald N. Thompson – Donald N. Thompson – The 12$ Million Stuffed Shark The 12$ Million Stuffed Shark

Eva Hornung – Dog Boy Eva Hornung – Dog Boy Deon Meyer – Thirteen Hours Deon Meyer – Thirteen Hours

Ann Granger – A Fine Place for Death

Peter James – Dead Like You

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.

Man 2010 Booker t, Shortlis n Russia tion publica in April

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.

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

Publishing in Russia 2011
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 million copies a few months ago. It is set to become yet another bestseller. But for now the distinction of being Veche bestsellers belongs to three big series: 100 of the Greats (on world history, told through specific personalities, events, or cultural masterpieces), Military Adventures (fictitious accounts), and Actual History (in which historians, politicians, and journalists, both native and foreign, discuss contemporary Russian history). Among the many authors, novelist Valentin Pikul, whose war and naval historical 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 Treasures 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 tradition for us to release any title in hardcover.” Currently, the number of e-books stands at around 500. “We collaborate with LitRes on e-books, and the agreement 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 bookshelf. And as a for-profit company, it makes perfect sense to widen our publishing program to cover different segments.”

Sergey Dmitriev, editor-in-chief of Veche

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 Prosveshcheniye, Drofa, and BINOM, while Eksamen produces mostly study and test guides. In the college and academic segment, Infra-M has 50% share of the law market and 36% in business and economics. On the other hand, Vlados, largely regarded as a humanitarian publisher, 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 London Book Fair (April 11–13). Just head to the Russian Pavilion (Stand W555), and get to know them and their authors better. ■

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,


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 amongst’s 400,000 monthly users.

The task of selecting a representative group from a pool of 20,000 registered publishers—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: Vladimir 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.

Your success is our success!

JOBZONE_1/6.indd 1

20 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1
1/20/11 5:08 PM

Books for those with child inside

Meshcheryakov Publishing House

Publishing in Russia 2011
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 libraries. As long as there is interest in a specific segment,” continues Lukey, “we will work on turning it into an online business.” (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 production. 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 generation—which will come with an integrated Wi-Fi module—with one of Russia’s largest 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, publishers 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.”

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 providers to put the titles online. But this being a new sector in the Russian book market, challenges abound. Here, a few dominant players talk to PW about the general e-book industry, their successes, and the challenges ahead.
book sales—we believe its At the power of volume will increase signifithe Internet has turned a cantly during the next five resource portal started by a years. The same upward group of sci-fi lovers from St. trend is also expected of forPetersburg in 1998 into an eign books sold through the e-commerce powerhouse. Internet.” More than 90% of Now regarded as the Amaall foreign titles on OZON of Russia, it .ru are in English, imported accounts for 50% of all from wholesalers or publishonline book sales in the ers in the U.K. and Europe. country. Last year, it sold 5.2 Bernard Lukey, CEO of Visitors can browse through million copies of books (in 250,000 books, which print and electronic foraccount for nearly 30% of the mats), representing 38% of the group’s products offered online. sales. “In general,” says CEO Bernard Partnering with major publishers to Lukey, whose team is, naturally, paying a convert titles into e-books is standard lot of attention to e-books and foreign procedure. “This conversion business is a titles, “the online book market grows loss leader, but we have the utmost faith about 30% year-on-year, while bricksin the future demand for e-books. The and-mortar operations slide into negative problem for the book industry is how to territories. And despite the fact that the monetize the content and add value to e-book market is nearly insignificant— e-books,” says Lukey. E-books on OZON representing less than 2% of total online .ru are priced around 25% to 30% of
22 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

LitRes, which boasts a catalogue of more than 45,000 Russian e-books, has effectively 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 service 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 collaboration, but our major market is still Rus-

Publishing in Russia 2011
sia.” The 40-strong LitRes cific number of books per overseas partners include Wiley & Sons, team provides conversion month.” Pan Stanford, Nova Science, and World services to the publishing For now, e-piracy is a big Scientific Publishing. community—offering 17 challenge at LitRes. The The challenge to the ELS (Electronic e-book formats, including company has initiated about Library System) model, says Zyatitsky, is M o b i , L R F, e P u b , a n d 10 lawsuits against various in “convincing universities that our serPDF—and complete marparties (mostly operations vice is crucial to improving the quality keting support. based outside of Russia) and of Russian higher education. Fortunately, Established in 2007 as a is working to introduce President Medvedev’s endorsement of literature resource (hence changes to Russian law perthis project has helped to promote and the company name), LitRes taining to publishing activismooth the process. Naturally, there is has witnessed the tremen- Sergei Anuryev, general ties. Going forward, Anusome resistance to the adoption of ELS dous changes in the Russian director of LitRes ryev’s major plans, besides and other digital innovations. The e-book market. “Back in educating and getting more response to the call to protect copyright 2008, there was virtually no e-book marpublishers to offer e-books, are to prohas also been slow in certain quarters. In ket here. It was then just a new market duce mobile apps and develop e-books fact, there were times when piracy at uniopportunity with a questionable future for the library market. versities and colleges was rampant and and abstract sales volumes. Now it is a went unchecked.” viable segment with concrete sales volBut the biggest headache for Zyatumes and channels, but it is constantly DDC itsky is the emergence of various small changing.” Not all Russian publishers Four-year-old DDC (Digital Distribue-libraries, mostly offering illegal conare releasing new titles in e-book format, tion Center) is a division within ProfMetent and outdated titles at very low Anuryev cautions, “and we need to do dia, one of Russia’s largest media and prices. “We are now working with varimore to encourage these publishers to do entertainment companies. There, two ous government agencies and nongovso. Only market leaders such as Eksmo, projects take the spotlight—KnigaFund ernmental organizations to close loopAST, and Ripol release their front lists in (“Book Fund”) and BestKniga (“Best holes that may allow such e-library e-books.” Book”). providers to flourish. This is an imporThe average e-book price has also Launched in 2008, KnigaFund has tant step forward. We need to let local increased since those early days. “But this one major goal: to develop and support and foreign partners know that the puris only because we started very low, at the legal distribution of educational pose of KnigaFund is to provide legally around 10% of the print book price. Now content via the Internet. A sizable obtained and up-to-date material for it is up to 30%, and there is potential for investment from ProfMedia has allowed Russian universities. Our partners must further increase—but not too fast, of it to acquire 10,000 titles in the past be assured that they hold the rights to course.” Then there is the price difference three years. KnigaFund now counts their titles in the KnigaFund repository between a new e-book title and an old one more than 100 universities across Russia in entirety and that it is free from piracy. that is published, say, three years ago. and CIS (the Commonwealth of IndeMost importantly, our students must “The difference can be huge. For instance, pendent States, i.e., Russia and the forhave reliable and fast access to the best a new e-book from a bestselling Russian mer republics of the Soviet Union) as its quality reference material possible to author may sell for $8, but only $2 each subscribers. “Current subscriptions have meet their learning needs.” Just for his old titles. It must be said that this exceeded 50,000, and we are now the recently, all 500 computer terminals at pricing policy is in tandem with the polbiggest and most demanded content the Russian State Library were given icy adopted by Russian publishers.” aggregator of educational free access to KnigaFund’s Transaction-wise, the main method is and scientific literature in e-catalogue “in a bid to propay-as-you-buy, “but there are other the region,” says general mote ELS as well as counter models depending on our partners,” says director Sergei Zyatitsky, e-piracy.” Anuryev. “We have subscription plans, whose team added 10 uniZyatitsky’s goal this year where customers pay a monthly fee and versities to its client list in is to increase ELS subscripdownload a specified number of titles, or the last quarter of 2010. To tions by 50% and to grow online reading, where customers can read date, its database boasts DDC’s other verticals. “I as many titles as they like within a cermore than 54,000 titles, would also like to see the tain period but are exposed to sponsored with 2,000– 5,000 new ones same increase in our online advertisements. Then there is the loyalty added every month. Local bookstore, BestKniga, which program, where customers with approved partners are some 80 pub- Sergei Zyatitsky, general now has around 6,000 club membership can download a spelishing houses, while major director of DDC e-books in various genres.” ■
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M


Publishing in Russia 2011
hand them down the generations. TV, the Internet, and games have considerably 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 reading. 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 BibBy Teri Tan lio-Globus, one of the biggest players in the Russian retail sector. Founded in 1957, it is one of Europe’s biggest bookNearly 40% of Russia’s book sales in 2009 came from inde- stores. The huge three-level building DVDs, stationery pendent bookstores. Bookshop chains contributed around offers books, CDs, antique section for items, and even an 20%, and only 8% were transacted online. The dependence first or limited editions, stamps, coins, hosts on bricks-and-mortar outlets remains unassailable even though postcards. ItKlio a variety of book clubs, including (for history lovers), bookstores outside of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and some other Young Philosophers, and Foreign LanLovers. major cities (such as Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk) are poorly guage a more in-depth look at the retail For stocked. sector, PW heads over to Moscow’s Dom Knigi (“House of hat is due in part to high outlets near and far. For Books”). “The last three restocking costs when great smaller publishers, tagyears saw a significant distances and large transportaging along with their big increase in demand for tion bills are involved. And counterparts’ logistics children’s books, while that translates into different services and bookstores in-store purchases of proprices for the same book: makes perfect sense in fessional titles and literacheaper in Moscow but dearer in the cost-conscious times. ture showed a definite outer regions (where wages and disposAs a rule, bookstores do drop,” says commercial able income are much lower). Books are not import directly from director Natalia Yumastill priced quite low by global stanoverseas publishers, relysheva. “For the latter catdards. But just like anywhere (and everying instead on distribuegory, there is a swing thing) else, book prices have risen in tors to get the books they toward online orders—a recent times, from an average of 110 want so as to avoid dealservice that we also prorubles ($3.80) in 2005 to 190 rubles ing with shipping, cusvide in addition to our ($6.60) in 2010. toms clearance, and taxa- Natalia Yumasheva, commercial bricks-and-mortar operadirector of Dom Knigi Moscow Currently, the total number of retail tion. Presently, a valuetion. But when it comes outlets is barely 30% of those existing added tax of 18% is to titles for their childuring Soviet times. The collapse of the imposed on imports of trade books, CDs, dren, parents still insist on seeing the centralized distribution system had and DVDs, and 10% on “educational” book firsthand prior to purchase.” Yumamuch to do with the dwindling number titles (the loose definition often works to s h e v a w o r k s f r o m t h e c h a i n ’s of stores. Nowadays, big publishing the advantage of importers). 27,000-square-meter flagship store houses that also have their fingers in the In general, Russians are serious (and (with 250,000 titles and 40,000 statioretail pie often have a sophisticated logisrather conservative) readers. Parents tranery items) at Noyvi Arbat, the city’s tics division to transport titles to retail ditionally build their own libraries and main shopping strip.

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

Bricks-and-Mortar Still Rules


26 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

Publishing in Russia 2011
Knigi (no connection to the Moswho could have imagined this coming cow chain of the same name) was from someone who started his booksellestablished in 1919, making it the ing career with a book van about a dozen first bookshop during Soviet years ago?) “I want Bookvoed to be the times. It is still owned by the St. ‘third place’—that space between the Petersburg municipal governhouse and the office—for book and culment. Visitors have access to ture lovers.” The three-level store, com125,000 titles, 20% of which are plete with ramps for wheelchair access, fiction and literature. Housed in boasts specially commissioned piped-in the century-old Singer Building music (“representing diverse world cul(complete with a covered courttures”), an art school (“for adults to learn yard and allegorical sculptures), how to paint”), multiple computer Irina Magracheva (left) and Liubov Paskhina of Dom the store boasts 20,000 visitors a kiosks (“to help pinpoint book locaKnigi St Petersburg day and holds various author signtions”), and a coffee bar. ings and presentations. “Our store “We have large shops, or supermaris not just a place for people to buy books. kets, smaller ones, and a book club. Still state-owned, the chain has 42 stores in Moscow and is becoming much It is a cultural meeting point where conThere is also the online store, where visimore consumer-driven in recent years. tent creators and buyers interact and tors have exceeded 20,000 per week,” “Muscovites are very keen to learn Engexchange ideas,” says general director says Kotov, whose team organizes about lish, and for the past 10 years Raymond Liubov Paskhina. 150 cultural events every month. Murphy’s grammar books from CamHere, too, the demand for English lan“Growth is expected to hit 20% this year. bridge University Press, for instance, are guage titles has risen significantly. In Our focus is on further strengthening our very popular,” Yumasheva says. “English fact, Paskhina and commercial director brand. Based on our surveys, 65% of language books—specifically travel Irina Magracheva imported 1,000 copies respondents have spontaneous knowlbooks and fiction—are taking up more of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows edge of Bookvoed, of which 90% have space on our shelves. So too are books on directly from the U.K. publisher when visited at least one Bookvoed outlet.” architecture, design, and art.” During the English edition was launched. “There Since its first store opened in 2000, PW’s visit in December, the store’s bestare plenty of English schools in St. Bookvoed has expanded at a frenetic sellers were Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, Petersburg, and children want to read in pace: it now has 50 outlets, 42 in St. Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, Meyer’s English, especially global bestsellers like Petersburg alone. Part of the Novy KniTwilight series, Lewis’s Chronicles of NarPotter,” adds Paskhina, who dreams of zhny Bukvoed bookstore chain—curnia, and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s having a bookstore like the seven-story rently the largest in Russia and the CIS Diary—driven largely by the arrival of Shanghai Book City, where there is space with 200 stores—it is managed by their screen adaptations. “We may be to display each book face out. “The major Eksmo, which owns 60% of the business. quite a distance away, but we are not challenge to any bookstore is the InterBesides those mentioned above, there immune to U.S. influence in terms of net. The younger generation prefers to are Top Kniga, based in Novosibirsk; blockbusters.” download books and Bukva, owned by Yumasheva also notes that there are read on iPads or other AST; and Molodaya few local authors writing for 10- to e-book devices. How Gvardiya, Moskva, 15-year-olds, which requires publishers the publishing indusand Respublica to import or translate titles for these try deals with the among the more readers. “Meanwhile, the lack of informaInternet and e-books popular and bettertion on published and upcoming titles— will determine the stocked stores. The or launch schedules—is a major issue. direction we take in challenge for these Such a database would help us better the near future.” companies—and plan our promotional campaigns and A few blocks away, those operating in allocate adequate space to highlight the general director any corner of the new titles. That in turn would help push Denis Kotov of globe—is to survive sales and make everybody—us, pubBookvoed (“Alphathe economic downlisher, and author—happy.” Still, sales at bet Eater”) is changturn and find a way this store come to around 25 million coping the traditional to deal with the ies per annum. bookstore concept Denis Kotov, general director of Bookvoed, declining reading Eight hundred kilometers away, at into “a park of culture with one store bestseller, Russia After the habit and emerging Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg, Dom and reading.” (And Global Economic Crisis e-book market. ■
28 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

Publishing in Russia 2011
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%, respectively, 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 something like ‘How to make millions while doing nothing for five minutes a day.’ ” For Andrew Nurnberg of the eponymous 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 promote, our sales of foreign fiction and nonfiction 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). Sushkova 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, noting that some Russian publishers are catching up on various 20th-century classics 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, represents classic and contemporary Russian

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

On Rights and BookScouting
By Teri Tan


Translations account for about 12% of all titles published in Russia in 2010. Here, as in other corners of the world, American and British blockbusters are translated and almost guaranteed top slots on the bestseller list. Names like J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, Nora Roberts, Stephenie Meyer, and John Grisham are no strangers in Russia.

t Alexander Korzhenevski has seen “the average advances and royalAgency, the first three ties going up even as print runs are commonths of 2011 saw several ing down. The global economic crisis big deals, including Rango: does not help, of course, and we are doing The Movie Storybook, Real-Time fewer deals compared to 2007 or 2008. Marketing and PR, Architect, Some midsize publishers now buy just a and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. few titles per year, while some do not buy The latter is very special to agency owner anything new at all. However, I’m confiand founder Alexander Korzhenevski dent that things will change for the betbecause it was the first time he had an ter soon.” Among the big titles signed by auction for a short story anthology. “If the his agency were Robert Goolrick’s A first three months is any Reliable Wife; Robert indication, we are defiMcCammon’s The Five; a nitely looking at more Wiley textbook, Business deals for print and digital Model Generation, and rights as well as higher another Wiley title, advances this year,” he House and Philosophy; and says. Currently, 70% of Eric Mayost’s Spectacular his business comes from Hair. “House and PhilosoAmerican publishers and phy generated huge royalliterary agencies, and his ties, while the other four focus is on selling British went through pretty and American titles to intense auctions resultRussia. ing in very good Over the past three to Alexander Korzhenevski, owner advances. We also hanfive years, Korzhenevski and founder of AK Agency dled sci-fi author Harry
30 P U B L I S H E R S W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

Publishing in Russia 2011
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 number 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 successfully. 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 systematically 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 produce payments and regular royalty statements 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 Russianspeaking 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., would fit into a publishU.K., and Italy is a major er’s portfolio, how transpart of his job. “In today’s latable it is, and if forfast-paced book industry, eign readers would it is crucial for foreign understand or enjoy it. publishers to get informaBeing a scout is a little tion as early as possible on like being a translator— titles that are attracting and I used to translate more attention within the English novels into Italpublishing circle. This ian—in that you need to way, the publisher can know if a book can cross buy the rights before their cultural barriers and domestic counterparts would work for a specific snatch them. I also keep country. So it is crucial to C e n t r e p o l y g r a p h Simone Garzella, owner of the get as much information informed of the latest eponymous book-scouting agency, as possible on what a bestsellers and titles that with the cover of Dewey market likes and does not are getting more press like, which topics are hot coverage.” Garzella also scouts for other and which taboo.” Not surprisingly, Garpublishers such as Arab Scientific Pubzella hopes that “someone would write a lishers (Lebanon), Constable & Robinson book on understanding a country by (U.K.), Euromedia (Czech Republic), looking at books that their publishers are Giunti (Italy), Murdoch Books (Austratranslating or not translating.” lia), and Pensamento (Brazil), as well as a Hollywood production company looking for potential titles for screen adaptation. Contracts One of the first projects Garzella What does a publisher (or rights agency) brought to Centrepolygraph was Vicki need to look out for before signing on the Myron’s Dewey: The Small Town Library dotted line? First and foremost, it is cruCat. “This book did very well in the U.S. cial to confirm and state clearly the terand many other countries because people ritory covered in the contract. Is it for the had already heard about the story of a cat Russian Federation only, or does it that lived in a public library. But to turn include the CIS? It is advisable to restrict it into a bestseller in Russia—as Centhe contract to Russian language only, trepolygraph did—where people had no and not to include CIS countries. But one idea about the story was definitely a big for world Russian language rights is challenge and an accomplishment,” says definitely feasible since there is a sizable Garzella, who started working with the market for Russian émigrés. Now that Russian publishing house in September more Russian publishers are setting up 2009. “I was more focused on nonfiction editorial offices in Minsk, Belarus; Kiev, titles in the beginning. But now I’m seeUkraine; or Astana, Kazakhstan, a differing a growing interest from Russian ent contract should be made for each readers in literary fiction. In general, local language, such as Belarusian, according to feedback from Russian ediUkrainian, Kazakh, and so on. tors, U.K. books work better in Russia Royalties, it should be noted, are based than U.S. titles. There is also a growing on what is called “publisher’s price.” interest in YA titles, especially dystopias, Explains Nurnberg, “This is close to postapocalyptic stories, and fantasy novwhat is known as wholesale price in other els with crossover potentials. U.S. influmarkets. Anyone contemplating a conence, both in the book and movie industract in Russia should ask what the pubtries, clearly plays a major part in this.” lisher’s price is expected to be, and also Working closely with editors is a must what the publisher expects the average for a scout, says Garzella, “because I must retail price to be. Since there is no fixed know if a particular book or author retail price, there would not be any firm
W W W . P U B L I S H E R S W E E K LY. C O M


Publishing in Russia 2011
answer, but you will at least get a ballpark figure.” Retail prices are often set based on location and purchasing power. As a rule, the wealthier residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg may see pricier tags on their books, while those living in rural regions may see costly transportation 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. ■

Watch out for contemporary Russian authors

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 Diaries 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.

Denis Osokin
His novella Yellowhammers has been turned into an awardwinning 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 people 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 Lantern won the 1993 Russian Little Booker Prize. His eccentricity (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 copyright. Unauthorized thinking of it is prohibited.”

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.

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.

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.

Ludmila Ulitskaya
Daniel Stein, Interpreter 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.

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 considered 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 W E E K L Y ■ A P R I L 4 , 2 0 1 1

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 stories—sort of Tess Gerritsen meets Nora Roberts meets Janet Evanovich. About 15 of her novels have been adapted into feature films.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful