Publishers in Ukraine angry at government’s Russian book ban

Publishers in Ukraine angry at government’s Russian book ban

15 February 2017

Ukrainian publishers have spoken out against their government’s ban on importing books from Russia, arguing that it will lead to the establishment of a black market and have a detrimental effect on the domestic publishing industry.

According to statistics published by the Guardian, titles from Russia make up around 60% of all books sold in Ukraine, with approximately 100,000 sales a year.

In an interview with Publishing Perspectives, the head of the Ukrainian Association of Publishers and Booksellers, Alexander Afonin, expressed concern that the ban would lead to a shortage of books and result in an underground black market. He added that while Ukrainian publishers had been forced to begin proceedings for the termination or suspension of agreements with Russian distributors, the government has yet to offer compensation for any losses experienced because of the ban.

His concern was echoed by Ivan Stepurin, who heads up leading Ukrainian publishing house Summit Books.

“[L]ocal publishers don’t have sufficient resources to replace banned books from Russia. With translation and rights costs so high, the ban will result in a shortage of books [...] especially in educational literature and world classics, where the local publishers’ impact has always been slight,” he commented.

Others voiced anger that advice from industry experts suggesting careful restrictions had been ignored in favour of the outright ban, with seemingly little thought for possible damage to the economy. When questioned on the reasons behind the ban, Inna Yehorova, first secretary at the Ukrainian embassy in the UK, told the Guardian that the ban was meant to act as “a mechanism restricting access to the Ukrainian market for foreign anti-Ukrainian printed matter content”. She added that the ban does not apply to books carried in personal luggage, if carrying fewer than ten copies in total.

The ban, which came into force on 1 January and is expected to last until at least 1 April, comes after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a law on 30 December 2016 restricting imports of “foreign products with anti-Ukrainian content”.

Last April, Mr Poroshenko approved a bill banning all Russian films produced or shown for the first time from 1 January 2014, with the ban extending to Russian films seen as popularising law enforcement agencies and the military, regardless of release date.

Source: The Guardian