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Issue 29 - October 2006

Wednesday 25 October 2006 by Maria Velichkova

At publishers’ request the deadlines for two of our current grant competitions have been extended as follows:

-  East-East Grants for Cultural Journals – new deadline: 20th November 2006
-  South-South Translation Grants for Publishers– new deadline: 30th November 2006

For details on both competitions, check in the announcements section on our website.

The first ever Serbian book market survey

As a follow-up to its large Books across Borders program for former Yugoslavia (see, in August this year Next Page has supported the first ever comprehensive book market survey in Serbia. The survey was designed by MC Most and conducted by Synovate and Aquagroup – Serbia.

Being a pioneering exercise, the study necessarily had to do more than merely examine patterns in consumer habits. Thus, it had three major components: a national representative research of book-buyers implemented via 1000 phone interviews; qualitative research with focus groups in the city of Belgrade and a “map” of major publishers (104), bookshops (117) and public libraries (124) in Serbia.

While the study is incredibly rich in data and a reflective analysis of the results is yet to take place, here is a selection of some of the findings from the first component:

-  Serbians are relatively active book-buyers – 45% of those interviewed have bought a book during the last year. The average number is 8,6 books/year;
-  The percentage of people who buy books (in the different age groups) rises until the age of 30 which is the peak age for book-buying (57% of the 30 years old have bought a book over the last year);
-  The majority of book-readers and book-buyers live in Belgrade, followed by the region of central Serbia (surprising, given the economic conditions in this particular region);
-  Amongst the younger generation (14-30), women seem to be more active book buyers than men, at mid-life there are no significant differences by gender while among the older (56+) age-group, male book buyers prevail;
-  The total number of books purchased clearly rises in conjunction with education and annual income;
-  Internet usage and book reading are not in a competition – 61% of the active readers have Internet access at home. Moreover, 8% of the active readers read books also on the Internet;
-  Most people buy their books in bookshops (47%) followed by news stands (15%) and book fairs (15%). Younger people are bookshops customers more often than older ones. Naturally, the percentage of bookshop customers is higher in places such as Belgrade where there is a relatively high number of quality bookshops;
-  Literature is the preferred genre of book-buyers (41%);
-  Library members form 33% of interviewees who had read at least a single book in the last year. They usually borrow literature (59%) and scientific texts (39%). The informal economy is at work in this field as well – a much higher percentage of the readers (66%) borrow books from friends or relatives.
-  Library membership is a much more popular way of accessing books in smaller cities than in bigger ones.

Detailed focus groups study complete the picture with numerous provocative findings regarding the criteria for choosing books, reasons for buying, recognition of publishers’ brand names and much more.

The major results were already presented to the media but the real professional debate among publishers, booksellers, librarians and other people in publishing will take place at the Belgrade Book Fair which started on 23 October 2006.

The complete study in Serbian can be found in the “resources” section of our web-site - here.

New books published

(JPG) Dimitar Petrov, Svilen Marinov (editors), Roma Fairy Tales from North-Eastern Bulgaria, in Romani (Center for Ethno-Cultural Studies, Razgrad 2006), supported by the Grants Program of VORBA project

This collection of fairy tales and stories has quite an interesting history. While doing a field work for sociological research, the editors who are also authors of several publications on the Muslim Horohane Roma in Bulgaria, noticed their informants’ interest of in the life-stories and legends about their origin - presenting the heroism and nobility of the old Roma. This is how Dimitar Petrov and Svilen Marinov decided to devote 6 months to collect over 100 stories and tales from old Horohane Roma and to turn them into a book. Prior to publication, a selection of the tales was presented to the communities of several villages in North-Eastern Bulgaria, organizing readings of the tales to the original tellers and their neighbours to gauge reactions, get suggestions and to see what makes people enjoy the tales. That’s how they decided on the content of the future book – a collection of 15 tales and stories presenting Roma via legends, songs and stories. The narrator and the other contributors are portrayed at the beginning of each story. The book introduction is written by Prof. Hristo Kyuchukov and Biser Svetlinov, PhD from the University in Veliko Turnovo.

The test readings of the stories provoked the interest of the Roma communities in North-Eastern Bulgaria. The book will become a part of various youth and community activities, and the publisher plans to involve the elders mainly as listeners of the stories, because (despite the great interest demonstrated) they can not read in Romani. Schools and departments of ethnic and demographic issues in the regions where Horohane Roma live and speak their dialect have already purchased the book.

(JPG) Zdislaw Krasnodebski, The Fall of the Idea of Progress, translation into Czech by Katerina Ticha (Pavel Mervart, Prague 2006), East Translates East Publications Project

The famous Polish philosopher and sociologist wrote this book immediately after the collapse of the communist regime, which occurred in the same year in both countries (Poland and the Czech Republic). One of the central theses of Krasnodebski is treating the fall of the idea of progress as possible means for nourishing hope for humanity and for the future. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why this translation and publication has been recommended by some of the most influential Czech philosophers. Undoubtedly, Krasnodebski’s profound socio-ethical contemplations on the common post-communist experience will be resourceful not only for the academic audience, but also for the general public.