Ukrainian Book Development Trends

“A room without books is like a body without a soul”

During 2015-2019 the Ukrainian book market has undergone some changes. First and foremost, a significant role was played by restrictions on the importation of Russian literature into the territory of Ukraine. Because of this, a considerable sector was created which needed to be filled for the needs of Ukrainians. That is why domestic publishing houses have thrown every effort to fill the market with a Ukrainian book. As a result, the thematic and genre range of the Ukrainian book has expanded significantly, the share of Ukrainian-language literature on the market has increased, as have translations from foreign languages.

One of the main trends is still non-fiction and children’s literature filling quickly the Ukrainian market. The diversity of it keeps on growing. Some publishers specialize in non-fiction («Nash format»), and teenage non-fiction («VSL») is gaining popularity. Readers are quite strictly related to children’s literature, both in content and in print. And in general, the number of readers who pay special attention to the design and printing performance of the edition has increased, and this is the main argument in the purchase of the book, not the price. It has to be said that competition in non-fiction and children’s literature has intensified and circulation of editions has been gradually decreasing, so it is unlikely that books in this spectrum will increase in the coming years. These niches have been filled and will remain at a more or less current level.

The most recent trend can be called legal technology and services as a complement to the paper market. Last year at the Book Arsenal 2019, one of the market participants presented a new product that allows you to download an e-book using a one-time QR-code. In Ukraine the Audio Books Audiobooks store has already been successfully launched, and «Nash Format» publishes a fundraising campaign for readers to write their books, and quite successfully. Although, according to the Ukrainian Reading and Publishing Data project of the «Chytomo» cultural publishing project about 65 % of respondents do not read e-books or listen to audio books at all, a large number of young respondents still favor these types of books. In addition, audiobooks are a good alternative for people with visual impairments. Therefore, it can be said that e-books and audio books will become more popular in the future but are unlikely to be able to push the printed version.

Although the patriotic upsurge has led to the development of the Ukrainian book, a large number of Ukrainians are unable to purchase books. According to Ukrainian Reading and Publishing Data, 60 % of respondents (more than two thousand respondents from 122 settlements) have not purchased any printed books in the last year. And among those who bought books, the average price of the last book purchased was 135 UAH, which is almost three times more expensive than in 2014.

When it comes to infrastructure changes in the industry, it should be mentioned that the number of independent stores in the country has fallen sharply, and according to Ukrainian Reading and Publishing Data, it is in small local bookstores that Ukrainians are most likely to buy books (25 % of those who read books). Publishers, however, experiencing a lack of solvent retail, are forced to open their own stores. Most likely, the trend will continue, leading to further degradation of the book trade — there will be fewer places in the country where you can see the maximum representation of books from various publishers.

In this way, although a small proportion of people are becoming more demanding of printing products and ready to give a lot of money for quality, which gives domestic publishers an incentive to develop, the majority of the Ukrainian population reads and buys very few books, which can lead to a decline in the reading culture. Although many Ukrainian structures are trying to facilitate publishers of book production and marketing, its popularization has not yet developed.

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