Parliamentary Hearings in Ukraine regarding the Book Market

On May 15, 2013 in Kyiv the Parliamentary Hearings titled "The problems of Ukrainian book publishing, bookselling as well as perspectives of support of book reading in Ukraine" took place. The Hearings were organized by Committee for Culture and Spirituality of Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine) and were held at the session hall of the Parliament (Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine).

The hearings were attended by:
  • Members of Parliament;
  • Representatives of the government;
  • Publishers, booksellers;
  • Librarians, cultural managers, journalists, interested people.
Thanks to Book Platform project's support the Hearings were attended by Jens Bammel – the Secretary General of the International Publishers Association, the Geneva based organisation that represents educational, scientific and trade publishers world-wide. It should be noted that for almost 22 years of Ukrainian independence, international expert of such level as Mr. Bammel attended the national event involving parliament and government representatives for the first time. And for the first time they heard from foreign but not from domestic expert that Ukrainian situation with book and publishing market is unsatisfactory (in comparison with other countries in both Western and Eastern Europe) and should be changed as soon as possible.

During the speech Mr. Bammel was focused on the following (please find his presentation attached):
  1. Does publishing matter?
  2. Overview of the international and European publishing industry (in comparison with Ukrainian indicators taken from Afonin's study)
  3. Successful national book policies

Among speakers were heads of committees of Parliament, MPs, representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers, publishers, booksellers, librarians. Publishers' Forum was represented by the President Oleksandra Koval. Publishers, booksellers, librarians talked about existing problems that are hindering the development of book publishing and reading in Ukraine.

Speeches of Parliament committees' heads and representatives of Ministry were based on the data taken from the study prepared by Oleksandr Afonin within the Book Platform project. The Ukrainian brochure with the Report on the Results of the Study of the Ukrainian publishing market prepared by Oleksandr Afonin (the Head of Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association) was printed and distributed among participants. The study will be available soon in our Study section.  

Although Mr. Bammel was in Kyiv very shortly (one full day) besides the Hearings, he participated in few meetings and interviews:
  • In the meeting with UPBA board members. During that meeting, which lasted about 2 hours, they discussed a wide range of issues related to the situation of Ukrainian book market and Ukrainian publishers received some useful advice from Mr. Bammel regarding promotion of books and reading;
  • Also 1,5 hour conversation with Mr. Bammel was recorded and broadcasted on the radio "Voice of Kyiv" about changes in Ukrainian field of publishing and reading, which he regards as catastrophic;
  • As well there was 1,5 hour conversation between Mr. Bammel anf Andrew Afonin, the owner of Ukrainian e-book site "Cassiopeia", regarding matters on digital books: they exchanged information of trends in eBook market in Europe and Ukraine and agreed to keep each other updated about any changes in this;
  • After Hearings, Mr. Bammel gave a large interview for popular Ukrainian magazine "Comments", which should be published soon;
  • In addition, he met with the First Deputy Chairman of the State Committee Anatoly Murakhovskiy and director for publishing and press Alexey Kononenko. The two discussed a number of issues related to the future of Ukrainian book market. Bammel's visit and speech were very important and were highly assessed by all participants as it gave more valuable status and meaning to the Hearings. As a result special recommendations for the Ukrainian book sector should be finalized by the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada. Once it will be ready, the recommendations would be sent to Bammel for his feedback and summary.

Oleksandr Afonin: "We consider that Mr. Bammel's, Secretary General of the International Publishers Association, participation in Ukrainian Hearings is extremely important act that allowed demonstrating Ukrainian authorities how everything is wrong with publishing and reading in our state. We hope this visit will encourage the authorities to radical steps towards national supporting book and reading culture in Ukraine."

Mr. Bammel: "I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay in Kyiv. I was impressed how publishers are working hard in very difficult circumstances. I look forward to receiving the recommendations from the parliamentary committee. I would then like to compare them with the recommendations that IPA gives about strengthening the book culture. I hope my visit was useful. I am happy to come again".


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