Newsletter Archive

 

Amsterdam, June 2009, Number 25


Editors: Vera Ebels, Christina Zorich

CONTENTS

Ralf Dahrendorf - In memoriam

Out of Samizdat

Slovenian Book Price Maintenance

Ukrainian Books for Education in Tolerance

Grants

Books Recently Published

Funding


RALF DAHRENDORF - IN MEMORIAM

1 May 1929 – 17 June 2009

Lord Dahrendorf, one of the founders of CEEBP together with György Bence, François Furet, Timothy Garton Ash, Raymond Georis, Jerzy Jedlicki, Jane Kramer, Eda Kriseová, Per Wästberg, and Laurens van Krevelen, died on 17 June 2009 in Cologne. He served on CEEBP’s Advisory Board from its inception in 1992 until 2001 when he retired. We wish to commemorate him today by remembering his guiding ideas about liberty and civil society which went into the making of CEEBP.

From 1986 he was chairman of the predecessor of CEEBP, the Oxford-based Fund for Central and East European Publishing Projects (CEEPP), founded to help create “a common market of the mind” in Europe, a “marketplace in the old liberal sense, the place where ideas are exchanged, and where by their exchange they generate new ideas, the ‘public’ in the best sense of that word”, as he wrote in his introduction to the history of the Oxford project “Freedom for Publishing, Publishing for Freedom” (Timothy Garton Ash (ed.), Central European University Press, Budapest-London-New York, 1995). The objective was to foster civil society, an “independent, truly autonomous sphere”, as an essential condition of liberty, free thought, and the public exchange of ideas.

The Oxford project supported translations across the Iron Curtain, dissident authors, and underground publishers in the communist countries of Central Europe and their exiled colleagues, and assisted them to adjust their work to the new conditions that emerged after the demise of communism, which they helped to bring down.

As Dahrendorf wrote in 1995 in “Freedom for Publishing, Publishing for Freedom”, “Newspapers and journals and books are perhaps the most visible index of whether there is an autonomous sphere of associations or whether government determines all. Today we know that such autonomy is at risk not only from governments but also from private monopolists. (...) Civil society cannot survive in a world of cartels and monopolies. A new battle may well have to be fought in this regard. It is, however, important precisely because publishing is at the heart of civil society.”

By Vera Ebels

OUT OF SAMIZDAT

Karel Palek (ed.), Kritický sborník. Výbor ze samizdatových ročníků 1981 – 1989. (Critical Miscellanea. Selection from the Samizdat Issues 1981 – 1898), 747 pp. Triáda, Prague 2009

With this publication, the Czech publishing house Triáda and the editor, renowned under his pseudonym Petr Fidelius or PF, have presented a remarkable accomplishment. The samizdat quarterly Kritický sborník, also known as KS, was founded in early 1981 by dissident scholars who acutely felt the need for a platform for free discussion and critical reflection on literature, philosophy, history, and other scholarly disciplines and arts. Their aim was to cultivate the culture of critical thinking. For a number of years it was the only Czech periodical (apart from the exile journals) devoted to independent critical reviews and essays.

KS was a beacon of editorial integrity, pluralistic and liberal in its approach, open to a wide range of currents of thought and opinions, acknowledged as “the best edited Czech samizdat periodical”. It focused in the first place on reviewing samizdat and exile publications (books and periodicals), but also covered books issued by the state publishing houses. The circle of contributors included not only dissident authors, but also people who were (still) allowed by the state to publish their work.

This meticulously edited and modestly but elegantly produced tome, comprising a selection of about a hundred texts, with a foreword documenting the development and the position of KS in the samizdat world, a painstaking explanation of the criteria used for the selection of the texts, and a full bibliography of the journal in the samizdat years, not only evokes KS as one of the centres of independent exchange of thought in Czech society in the 1980’s, but also offers a unique insight into the history and atmosphere of that period.

J.D.


SLOVENIAN BOOK PRICE MAINTENANCE

One of the best ways, if not the best, to create conditions conducive to making available a wide assortment of book titles in all genres in a variety of bookshops in as many places as possible, even for those who cannot pay with credit cards, let alone via the internet – and after all they still constitute the vast majority of the population - is retail book price maintenance. Also known as the fixed book price, in the sense of a steady price, it stipulates that booksellers sell books to the consumer at a certain price set by the publisher for a certain period of time. This holds also for book clubs, internet shops, and libraries. Booksellers compete then not via the price but through their varied assortment and wide range of book titles, and services to the public. This helps smaller and specialised booksellers, and allows the larger ones to offer a wider variety of books, including less profitable or slow-selling but highly valuable books.

The fixed book price existed in a number of European countries for many decades as a trade agreement between associations of publishers and booksellers, wholesalers and importers. In seven of these countries, it has been transformed over the past few years into law due to the requirements set by the European Commission.

Slovenia is, together with Hungary, the first country in Central and Eastern Europe to have introduced a trade agreement on book price maintenance. The initiative was launched at the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce before 2000 by three publishers from the Publishers and Booksellers Association, prompted by scary vertical capital concentration in publishing and bookselling and difficulties in getting a wide range of books in bookshops (the largest publisher purchased 98 per cent of the largest chain numbering 60 bookshops, another large educational publisher owns 43 bookshops, a major paperback publisher has 10, yet another publisher owns two, while there are only 3 independent bookshops in Slovenia). Another strong reason was the fact that publishing was losing credibility in the eye of the consumer, as the same title could be bought at different prices – the bookshop price, the book club price, the internet price, special mail-order deals, book fairs, etc. The publishers hoped also to settle the library discounts (currently 12 per cent on average, with 25 per cent for some of the bigger libraries; compared to all Dutch libraries at 25 per cent). Library purchases are a very important part of the book market especially for Slovenian fiction and literary texts, which represent one third of this market.

The publishers, with one or two exceptions, were united in their ambitions and all who knew their business were in favour of the fixed price system. Even Mladinska knjiga, the predominant publisher and bookseller in the region, which might have harmed the market by playing truant with prices, respected the trade agreement, which was voted for and signed at the Chamber of Commerce. The initiating committee discussed all the rules with all interested parties and asked them for comments. It took half a year to fine-tune the details.
The rules were those of the fixed price trade agreements and laws elsewhere in Europe, based on Belgian trade agreement, and French and German law (as a token of support, Boersenverein provided the draft before it was passed). The agreement is valid for books no matter what the trade situation (club, internet, promotional events, etc.). Publishers were prepared to set the discounts for the libraries and carve them in stone, so that every good library supplier would stand a chance. Alas, though many librarians understood the cause and were enlightened by their international contacts on the beneficial effects of the fixed price, the managers of their association at the time were as set in their refusal as the Berlin Wall.

Slovenian publishers missed their chance before joining the EU to pass the trade agreement as law due to the lack of political support; the politicians were preoccupied at the time with joining the EU and NATO. The publishers hope to get a law on book price maintenance adopted by parliament in 2011.

The law will deal with the book generically as defined by FEP and other EU documents – in every form, electronic, audio and print. It will provide fines for breaches; control will be administered by the Market Inspectorate of Slovenia.

The law will also limit the ubiquitous book fairs’ discounts for books published less than a year prior to the two annual book fairs, and let the publishers discount their backlists if they think this is wise. But more and more publishers understand that only a very consistent policy in terms of pricing policy can brings solace and long-term cooperation with booksellers. Particularly in such a small market as Slovenia’s.

By Vera Ebels and Tanja Tuma


UKRAINIAN BOOKS FOR EDUCATION IN TOLERANCE - BOOKS PUBLISHED

The following publications, to be used within the framework of the Ukrainian Books for Education in Tolerance Project 2008 – 2011 in seminars planned in the capital cities of all twenty-five districts of the country, were issued before the project’s official launch on 14 April 2009 in Kiev. The CEEBP is coordinating the project together with the Anne Frank House, in cooperation with local Ukrainian partners and with the support of the Matra program of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The first seminars for history teachers, education students, school administrators, librarians, and journalists have already taken place in Kherson, Sumy, and Uzhorod.

I.   Reprints of books and educational materials

      Teachers manuals

2.   New translations and publications


GRANTS

In April 2008, the CEEBP awarded thirteen grants for books, nine of which for West – East translations, and four for East – East translations. Eight of the grants concern works in the humanities, and five are titles in belles lettres.

Eleven of the grants for books were awarded within the framework of the European History and Literature program sponsored by the Allianz Kulturstiftung, Munich.

Books


BOOKS  PUBLISHED WITH CEEBP SUPPORT in 2009

Vittorino Andreoli, Capire il dolore. Perché la sofferanza lasci spazio alla gioia, translated from Italian into Polish by Maciej Bielawski, Zrozumieć cierpienie. Aby ból ustąpił radości, Wydawnictwo Homini Kraków 2009

Elias Canetti, Masse und Macht, translated from German into Bulgarian by Elissaveta Todorova Kusmanova: Masi i vlast, Lege Artis, Pleven 2009

Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Justiz, translated from German into Belarusian by Vasil Siomucha: Yustizhia, Kovcheg, Minsk 2009


Nikolaj Kancsev, Lajkucskata Nehape, a uhae (collection of poems), translated from Bulgarian into Hungarian by György Szondi: Az oroszlánszá nem cibál, de illata szál, Napkut Kiadó, Budapest 2009

Karel Palek (ed.), Kritický sborník 1981 – 1989. Výbor ze samizdatových ročníků (Critical Miscellanea 1981 - 1989. Selection from samizdat volumes), Triáda, Prague 2009

Robert Service, Comrades. Communism: A World History, translated from English into Czech by Pavel Kaas: Soudruzi. Světové dějiny komunismu, Argo / Academia, Prague 2009

Andrea Volano, De libertate politica sive civili (Cracoviae 1572), translated from Latin into Belarusian by Uladzamir Shaton: Ab gramaddzanskai, abo palitichnai svabodz, Kolas Publishers, Minsk 2009

Books published with CEEBP support in 2008 received in 2009

Marc Bloch, Apologie pour l’histoire ou Métier d’historien, translated from French into Croatian by Jagoda Milinković: Apologija historije ili zanat povjesničara, Srednja Europa, Zagreb 2008

Antoine Compagnon, Les antimodernes. De Joseph de Maistre à Roland Barthes, translated from French into Romanian by Irina Mavrodin and Adina Diniţoiu, with a preface by Mircea Martin: Antimodernii. De la Joseph de Maistre la Roland Barthes, Editura Art, Bucharest 2008

Niklas Luhmann, Einführung in die Systemtheorie (edited by Dirk Baecker), translated from German into Bulgarian by Nina Nikolova and Marina Liakova: V’vedenie sistemnata teoria, Critique & Humanism, Sofia 2008

Vladimir Mayakovsky, Selection of poetry and short writings, translated from Russian into Romanian and provided with a preface and notes by Leo Butnaru: Eu şi Napoleon, Ideea Europeana, Bucharest 2008

Michel Meyer, Manuel Maria Carrilho, Benoît Timmermans, Histoire de la rhétorique des Grecs à nos jours. Sous la direction de Michel Meyer. Translated from French into Croatian by Vanda Mikšić: Povijest retorike od grkā do naših dana, Disput, Zagreb 2008

Josef Škvorecký, Příběh inženýra lidských duší (The Engineer of Human Souls), translated from Czech into Polish by Andrzej S. Jagodziński: Pryzpadki inżyniera ludzkich dusz, Borderland, Sejny 2008

For a list of all books published with CEEBP support see our website under BOOKS


FUNDING

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