December 2007, No 22
Editor: Hella Rottenberg
In the centre of Albanian capital Tirana stands a distinctive building, called the Piramid which, indeed, looks like one, too. Built many years ago in the memory of the deceased dictator Hoxha (1985), it is used now as exposition space. This is where the tenth – already – National Book Fair took place in mid November this year. very nearly all Albanian books were presented there, including those from peripheral Albanian-language publishers from Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro.
The availability of Albanian language books in general, and schoolbooks in particular, has grown considerably over the past few years.
It rained from the first to the last day of the Book Fair. Gloomy November days, evoked starkly by the Albanian national author Ismael Kadare in his novel The General of the Dead Army. Nevertheless, the public came in droves. But the sales were lower than publishers expected, despite the fact that the fair was extended by one day; the public was reluctant to buy books.
The blossoming of the Albanian publishing is partly, indeed, only an illusion. Albania suffers from a grave energy crises and power shortages; most electricity has to be imported. This results daily in long periods without electricity during working hours, with a disastrous effect on the economy.
The book sales had already been rather low throughout the previous year: times are uncertain and book buying is the first to suffer. Other factors have negative economic effects, too. Car ownership in Tirana has grown tremendously, so much so, that the traffic comes to a standstill each working day. These are problems common to every modern city, but in Tirana it is extreme. It was not built for such a degree of mobility.
The political climate does not help in making life easier for the book trade either. The parliamentarian and writer of history novels, Sabri Godo, pleaded in his speech at the opening of the book fair for the abolishing of VAT on books, the current rate being 20 per cent. “Even at the time of Ali Pasha”, Godo said, “everything was taxed but not books!”
There is a distinct lack of enthusiasm for cooperation between publishers and booksellers. The prevailing mood is one of “each to his own”, which does not make things very efficient. It results in the poor distribution of books, certainly outside Tirana: each publisher delivers his own books with his own car.
Until recently, the export to Macedonia was a disaster. Albanian books were simply blocked at the border,while the export to Kosovo, where the majority of the population reads Albanian, was a mere trickle.
Even in the capital city Tirana there are only very few bookshops where you can touch the books, let alone browse through a book to get an impression. The only other venues selling books are kiosks where you can point to books kept out of reach. Marketing and promotion are still in their infancy. The press has to buy books in order to write reviews. And if they finally do, one can’t really speak of reviews; the tradition is simply non-existent. No newspaper or journal is willing to pay experts for a well-written book review. In any case, whatever happens beyond the Albanian horizon is too far away to merit attention.
Albanian editions of foreign bestsellers, such as The Shadow of the Wind by Ruis Zafón, can hardly be found in Albanian bookshops. Not speaking of the fact that the book is not translated from the Spanish original, but from a German translation. For which, by the way, a Spanish translation subsidy was forthcoming.
Publishers also attempt to reach the public through summer book fairs in Albanian spa towns such as Vlora and Durres, or Ulcinje in Montenegro. And the readers are certainly there, in Albania. When Orhan Pamuk received his Nobel prize in 2006, he was completely unknown in Albania, although Istanbul is only a stone’s throw away. The translations of My Name is Red and Snow sold in large numbers during the fair; five thousand copies of the first title have been already printed. For Albania, this is a mega seller; moreover, at 1.300 leka, equivalent of more than 10 euro, the book is not cheap. But readers are interested, and willing to pay for it.
For many years, the copyright was a complete wild-west terrain in Albania, just as in many other East European countries. Pirated editions of translations of authors (and not the least among them!) are still sold across the counter with impunity. Although Albania ratified the Bern Copyright Convention years ago, in practice it has had no effect. In 2005, a bill was drafted to prevent these copyright breaches, and the Albanian publishers were given the chance during the drafting stage to send in amendments. Their shock a few months later, when parliament adopted a law with a completely different purport, could not have been greater! Zealous ministry clerks smuggled into the law a ‘state copyright bureau’ with a brief to control everything. The publishers were obliged to submit all their contracts to this bureau. The publishers were required to have a degree in literature, and all staff related to the publishing house including freelancers had to be registered.
Nevertheless, to get their rights in cases of piracy, publishers had to fall back on the current judicial procedure; the state bureau had not made provisions for the administration of justice. The entire law shows nothing but incompetence, and such a lack of knowledge and insight into the problem of copyright protection that one fears that it was tailored only to secure a position for a few officials. The law definitely does not provide the due administration of justice required for copyright protection in Albania.
This is aptly illustrated by the course of proceedings in the case of an illegal publication of Elfriede Jelinek’s novel The Pianist; after two years, the court has still not issued a verdict or pronounced an entitlement to compensation.
The book trade in Albania is a mirror of the Albanian society. It needs to build a new tradition. There is hardly any cooperation. Printing is cheap but the quality is poor, and graphic design is in its infancy. Original Albanian prose and poetry blossom, but the distribution is weak. And knowledge of Albanian is so rare, it is difficult to build bridges to other languages. Albania is still very much centred on itself, and craves acknowledgement from abroad, but is also interested in translations of foreign literature. And there is no doubt that there are avid readers in Albania.
By Richard van den Brink
Since this spring, Croatia has an agreement on book price maintenance signed by the Croatian Union of Publishers and Booksellers, and the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Science, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The idea of such an agreement was inspired by the Croatian Book Market Project, which was supported by the CEEBP in 2002 – 2006.
According to the Croatian agreement, a fixed price, which has to be printed on the cover of a book, is valid for 12 months from the date of the publication of a title. Not only the year but also the month of the publication has to be printed on the copyright page. The maximum discount approved for all books on the market (apart from book clubs) is 10 per cent, but at book fairs recognized by the Union of Publishers and Booksellers, such as Interliber, Profil Zagreb Fair, or Pula, a discount of 20 per cent, and even higher for older books, is allowed.
In practice, the agreement is rather lame, not only because, in the past, publishers had created a system of extremely high retail prices – stimulated by the subsidy policy of the government – at which they offered their books in bookshops and to the Ministry of Culture for libraries, using bookstores as showrooms rather than real bookshops and selling the rest at high discounts during book fairs and open street markets, but also because the agreement does not contain any sanctions or penalties.
Due to the steadfast efforts of one of the Croatian Book Market project partners, Nenad Bartolčić of the book information centre Moderna Vremena Info (www.mvinfo.hr), who was also very active in promoting the idea of the book price maintenance, the Ministry announced this November a support program for independent bookstores (i.e. bookstores not owned by publishers) providing funds for book promotions, literary events, book reading actions etc.
This may compensate still surviving independent bookstores somewhat for the losses they had suffered over the years due to the unfair competition of publishers stimulated by government policy, but without a proper book price maintenance, Croatia cannot dream of a pluriform, diverse network of quality bookstores, or of a sound and fair book trade.
In October 2007, the CEEBP awarded sixteen grants for books and one special grants. The grants for books were awarded for eleven West – East translations, and five East – East translations. Eight of the grants concern works in the humanities, seven are literary titles, and one is a book of essays. The special grant was awarded to the Belarussian monthly Arche.
- Yuri Andrukhovich, Moscoviada. Ukrainian – Bulgarian translation by Albena Prodanova Stamenova – Seizova and Rayna Hristova Kamberova, Paradox, Sofia
- Hannah Arendt, The Jewish Writings. English – Serbian translation by Zoran Janić, Alexandria Press, Belgrade
- Tomasso Campanella, La citta del sole. Italian – Albanian translation by Erion Kristo, Dita 2000, Tirana
- Elias Canetti, Die gerettete Zunge. Geschichte einer Jugend. German – Bulgarian translation by Elissaveta Todorova Kusmanova Lege Artis, Pleven (Retranslation)
- Elias Canetti, Masse und Macht. German – Bulgarian translation by Elissaveta Todorova Kusmanova, Lege Artis, Pleven (Retranslation)
- Loring M. Danforth, The Macedonian Conflict. Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World. English – Albanian translation by Durim Taçe, Shkupi, Skopje
- Leonid Dobîcin, Complete Works and Letters. Russian – Romanian translation by Leo Butnaru, Ideea Europeana / Europress Association, Bucharest
- Vasily Grossman, Zhizn i sudba (Life and Fate). Russian – Bulgarian translation by Zdravka Petrova, Fakel, Sofia
- Bernard Lory, L’Europe Balkanique de 1945 a nos jours. French – Albanian translation by Sokol Haxhimusaj, Dituria, Tirana
- Mark Mazower, Salonica. City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430 – 1950. English – Macedonian translation by David Vitkov, AZ-BUKI, Skopje
- William O. McCagg, A History of Habsburg Jews, 1670 – 1918. English – Polish translation by Andrzej Szumański, Warsaw University Press, Warsaw
- Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception. French – Bulgarian translation by Todorka Mineva, SONM, Sofia
- Jozef Škvorecký, Příběh inženýra lidských duší (The Engineer of Human Souls). Czech – Polish translation by Andrzej Jagodziński, Borderland, Sejny
- Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans. English – Polish translation by Piotr Szymor, Czarne, Wołowiec
- Marina Tzvetaieva, Proza & Poklonis’ Moskve. Russian – Romanian translation by Janina Ianoşi, Ideea Europeana, Bucharest
- Max Weber, Die Stadt. German – Albanian translation by Vullnet Muca, Fan Noli, Tirana
- Arche, political and cultural monthly, Minsk
H. G. Adler, Theresienstadt 1941-1945. Das Anlitz einer Zwanggemeinschaft. III. Psychologie.
J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) Tübingen, 1960, © J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) Tübingen, 1955
Translated from German into Czech by Ludmila Šedová: Terezín 1941-1945,Tvář nuceného společenství, Díl III. Psychologie, Epilogue © Jeremy Adler, 2007, Nakladatelství Barrister & Principal, Brno 2007
David Albahari, Selected stories, Selected by Aleš Debeljak, © David Albahari
Translated from Serbian into Slovenian by Sonja Polanc: Besede so nekaj drugega, Aleph, Ljubljana 2007
Iuz Aleshkovsky, Svet v konce stolva (from Light at the End of the Muzzle, Chalidze Publications, New York, 1984, and Svet v konce stolva, 2007) © Iuz Aleshkovksy.
Translated from Russian into Bulgarian by Ivan Totomanov: Svetlina v kraja na duloto, Fakel Expres / Janet 45, Sofia / Plovdiv 2007
Raymond Aron, L’Opium des intellectuels, © Calmann-Lévy, 1955.
Translation from French into Romanian by Adina Diniţoiu: Opiul intelectualilor, Curtea veche, Bucureşti 2007
Ádám Bodor, Vizza a fülesbagolyhoz (Back To The Long-Eared Owl) Copyright © Bodor Ádám 1992, 1997 Jelenkor, Pécs 1992; Magveto, Budapest 2002
Translation from Hungarian into Polish by Tadeusz Olszaski, Małgorzata Komorowska-Fotek, and
Elżbieta Sobolewska, with a postface by Piotr Matywiecki: Z powrotem do uszatej sowy. Opowiadani, Wydawnictwo Czarne, Wołowiec 2007
Pierre Bourdieux, Méditations pascaliennes. Éléments pour une philosophie négative, © Editions du Seuil, 1997 et 2003
Translation from French into Bulgarian by Maria Dimitrova: Razmyshlenia po Paskal, Panorama Plus, Sofia 2007
Ivan Čolović, Selection of essays, Copyright © Ivan Čolović 2005
Preface and translation from Serbo-Croatian into Polish by Magdalena Petryńska: Bałkany – teror kultury
Wybór esejów, Wydawnictwo Czarne, Wołowiec 2007
Leonid Dobîcin, Polnoe sobranie sochineii i pisem (Collected Works and Letters), Journal Zvezda, 1999
Translation from Russian into Romanian, preface and annotations by Leo Butnaru: Întălnirile cu Liz (Meeting with Liz), Ideea Europeană / Europress, Bucureşti 2007
Sigmund Freud, Zur Psychopathologie des Alltagslebens S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2005
© 1941 Imago Publishing Co., Ltd, London. By permission of S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt am Main
Translation from German into Albanian by Edit Dibra, Rexhep Hida, and Tamara Gjikondi: Psikopatologjia e jetës së përditshme, Shtëpia Botuese Fan Noli, Tirana 2007
Michael Herzfeld, Cultural Intimacy. Social Poetics in the Nation State, © Taylor and Francis Group, Routledge, New York and London 2005
Translation from English into Bulgarian by Ilia Iliev: Kulturnata intimnost. Socialna peotika v nacionalnata d’rzhava, Prosveta, Sofia 2007
Velimir Hlebnikov, Tvorenia (Creations), Sovietski Pisatel, Moscow 1986
Translation from Russian into Romanian, and preface, chronological table and annotations by Leo Butnaru:
Joc î iad şi muncă-n rai. Poemi, Ideea Europeană, Bucureşti 2007
Bohumil Hrabal, Taneční hodiny pro starší a pokročilé (Dancing Lessons for the Elderly and the Advanced) © Bohumil Hrabal Estate, Zürich, 1964; Český Spisovatel, Praha 1964
Translation from Czech into Belarussian by Jan Maksimjuk: Tantsavalnyja gadziny dlja starejshich i spraktykavanych, Ed. Viktar Korzun, Minsk 2007
Eugene Ionesco, Le Piéton de l’air, Selected writings from: Antidotes, Théatre Complet, Entre la vie et le reve, © Editions Gallimard, Paris 1958, 1963, 1966, 1977, 1991, 1996
Translation from French into Bulgarian by Ognian Stamboliev: V’zdushnijat peshechodec, Lege Artis, Pleven 2007
Fazil Iskander, Sofichka and Dumaiushchij o Rossii i amerikanetz (Sofichka, and A Thinker about Russia and an American) 1995, 1997 © Fazil Iskander, Moscow 2006
Translation from Russian into Albanian by Nikolla Sudar: Dy novela Sofeka. Al që mendon për rusinë dhe amerikani, OMBRA, Tirana 2007
Michael K. Silber (ed.), Jacov Katz, Joseph Ben David, Nataniel Katzburg, After Tradition
New York University Press, New York 1993
Translation from English into Hungarian by Gyorgy Haraszti: Magyar Zzsidó törtélnelem másképp.
Jeruzsálemi antológia, Múlt és Jövő Kiadó, Budapest – Jerusalem, 2007
Leszek Kołakowski, Modernity on Endless Trial, Copyright © by Leszek Kołakowski 1990, University of Chicago Press, 1990
Translation from English into Romanian by Mihnea Gafiţa: Modernitatea sub un neobosit colimator, Curtea veche, Bucureşti 2007
Fatos Kongoli, Lëkura e qenit (The Dog’s Skin),Copyright © Fatos Kongoli, 2003, 2006, Toena, Tirane 2003
Preface and translation from Albanian into Polish by Dorota Horodyska: Psia skóra, Wydawnictwo Czarne,
Bernard Lory, L’Europe balkanique de 1945 á nos jours, Copyright © Ellipses, Paris 1996
Translated from French into Albanian by Sokol Haxhimusaj: Europa Ballkanike nga 1945 në ditët tona,
Dituria, Tirana 2007
Michel de Montaigne, Collected works: Essays, Diaries from travels in Italy, Switzerland, and Germany in 1580 and 1581, Letters
Translation from the original French and Italian into Croatian, with annotations and comments by Vojmir Vinja:
Sabrana djela Michela de Montagnea, Eseji (I., II., III.), Dnevnik s puta u Italiju preko Švicarske i Njemačke 1580. i 1581. Pisma, Disput, Zagreb 2007
Orhan Pamuk, Kar (Snow), Copyright © 2002 Iletisim Yayincilik A.A., Istanbul
Translation from Turkish into Albanian by Drita Çetaku-Turdiu: Bora, Skanderbeg Books, Tirana 2007
Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory, Copyright © 1995 by Simon Schama, HarperCollins Publisher 1995
Translation from English into Czech by Petr Pálenský: Krajina a paměť, Argo / Dokořán, Prague 2007
Reinhard Schulze, Geschichte der islamischen Welt im 20. Jahrhundert, Copyright © Verlag C.H. Beck, München 2002
Translation from German into Czech by Vladimír Petkević: Dějiny islámského světa ve 20. století, Atlantis, Brno 2007
Ferdinand Seibt, Die Begründung Europas. Ein Zwischenbericht über die letzten Tausend Jahre, © S. Fischer Verlag GmbH,Frankfurt am Main 2002
Translation from German into Bulgarian by Silvia Valkova, Natalia Koleva, and Rosen Milanov: Osnovaveneto na Evropa. Ocerk za poslednite chiliada godiny, Agata-A, Sofia 2007
Sasha Sokolov, Shkola dlja durakov (A School for Fools), Ardis Press, Ann Arbor, USA, 1976, © Sasha Sokolov 1976, 1999
Translated from Russian into Bulgarian by Zdravka Petrova: Uchilische za glupaci, Fakel Expres / Janet 45
Sofia / Plovdiv 2007
Nicolae Steinhardt, Jurnalul fericii (Journal on Happiness), Editura Dacia, Cluj Napoca 1991
Translated from the Romanian into the Hungarian by Csaba and Dankuly Levente: Napló a boldogságról,
Koinónia, Kolozsvár 2007
Peter F. Sugar, Southeastern Europe under Ottoman Rule, 1354 – 1804, © Copyright University of Washington Press, Reprint edition 1983
Translation from English into Albanian by Natasha Bombaj & Kujtim Ymeri: Europa Junglindore nën sundimin osman1354 – 1804, Dituria, Tirana 2007
Emir Suljagić, Razglednica iz groba (Postcard from the Grave), Durieux, Zagreb 2005, Copyright © De Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam 2005
Translation from Bosnian into Polish by Agnieszka Łasek, with epilog by © Wojciech Tochman, 2007: Pocztówki z grobu, Czarne, Wołowiec 2007
Filip Topol, Karla Klenotníka cesta na Korsiku (Of Karel Klenotník´s Trip to Corsica), Maťa Publishers, Prague 1999; Jáchym Topol, Anděl (Angel), Hynek, Prague 1995; Josef Topol, Sbohem Sokrate(Goodbye, Socrates), Edice Petlice, Prague 1977 (clandestine edition) and Torst, Prague 2001 (the latest revised edition)
Translated from Czech into Belorussian by Veronica Bialkovich and Siarhei Smatrychenka:Aniel, Logvinov Publisher, Minsk 2007
For a list of all books published with CEEBP support see our website at www.ceebp.org/books.htm
- Allianz Cultural Foundation, Munich
- European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam
- Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, The Netherlands
- Matra program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands