Report on the Lithuanian Publishing

 

 

LITHUANIAN LANGUAGE – THE EUROPEAN GLOTTOSAUR 

Each language is unique in the way it reflects its specific global and mental structure, which philosophers call the “world view”. However, no language is the one and only on the planet. To the contrary, every language is connected with other languages through various types of links (genealogical, typological, historical, geographical, etc.). And some of the languages take a particularly important stance in their group. There’s no doubt that the Lithuanian language is the current leader of the living Indo-European language group. Why? Well, despite its relatively late written certification (the second half of the sixteenth century), the Lithuanian language still retains an archaic language nature: more precisely it is the most archaic and conservative of the still used Indo-European languages. It is a glottosaur, in other words, a linguistic dinosaur that is not only alive and kicking, but also is one of the official languages of the European Union since May 1, 2004. With three and a half million Lithuanian-speaking Europeans, a thriving literature, and a world-famous theater – today, in the heart of the Old Continent, the Lithuanian language is a new and at the same time a very old phenomenon.

Those of us with some practice in the Classical languages will have less trouble understanding the grammar of the Lithuanian language. The primeval vocalism has remained stronger than in other existing Indo-European languages, as well as the Indo-European accentuation (stress and intonation factors). Also, some features of the morphology of the Lithuanian language are rather characteristic: the dual number, and the neuter gender which is still evident in dialects, although only fragments have remained. Lithuanian nouns are still declined in seven cases (bearing in mind that eight have been restored in the Indo-European hypothetical language). For these reasons the Lithuanian language can be directly compared with some languages that became extinct centuries ago, like Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, Latin and Gothic. It is obvious in the lexis: for example, sūnus in Lithuanian, cf. in Sanskrit sūnuḥ and Gothic sunus (in German Sohn, English son, Russian syn); in Lithuanian vyras, cf. in Sanskrit vīraḥ, Latin vīr, the ancient Irish fir; in Lithuanian gyvas, cf. in Sanskrit jīvaḥ, Latin vīvus, etc.

It is no coincidence that more than one generation of linguists have felt the desire to hear the sound of this speech, especially those linguists who have created the very history of linguistics: August Schleicher, Karl Brugmann, and August Leskien went to Lithuania in order to hear the “best image of the proto-language”. Later they were followed by Ferdinand de Saussure, Louis Hjelmslev, and many others who went on a Grand Tour in Lithuania. Philosophers have also stressed the uniqueness of the Lithuanian language. Among the most prominent, Immanuel Kant, who saw in the glottosaur of the Lithuanian language the “key, which could solve many a linguistic riddle”...

Prof. Dr. h.c. Pietro U. Dini

Italian linguist, Baltic linguist, translator of Lithuanian poetry

 

LITHUANIAN CAPITAL VILNIUS – TREASURY OF CULTURES AND LANGUAGES 

Vilnius was first mentioned in 1323 when the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas appealed to Western European cities, inviting monks, knights, and craftsmen to Lithuania. This date doesn’t just mark the birth of the capital. It marks the starting point from which the reception of European culture in Lithuania began. Since then it has been growing and deepening. There are a few important dates that mark the development of the culture. In 1387 King Jagiełło Christianized the part of Lithuania Aukštaitija, where Vilnius is located. In 1570 Jesuits established a college here, which nine years later became a university. A network of Jesuit schools, which attracted students from around the region, was formed soon after. Cultural innovations affected not only the Catholic, but also the Unitarian, Protestant, Russian Orthodox, Karaite and Judaic communities of the capital and other areas, until the emergence of national states after World War I.

From long ago, people in Lithuania have written and created in various languages – in continental (Latin, Greek), regional (Church Slavonic, Ruthenian, Polish, German, Italian, Spanish, French and English) and local (Lithuanian, Latvian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian). Works of literature and science were created here that have become part of the cultural identity not only of Lithuania but also of other countries that base their cultural identity on the traditions of the Grand Duchy.

Some of the first books in Lithuania in local and regional languages were also prepared or published in Vilnius. In 1522, Little Travel Guide by Franciscus Skorina, written in Church Slavonic language, was published here. The event marks the beginning of book publishing in Lithuania. A collection of poems Gratulationes Serenissimo ac Potentissimo Principi Sigismundo III, consisting of works in Latin, Spanish, Italian, French, German, English, Polish and Lithuanian was published in Vilnius in 1589. In 1585 – translations of St. Peter Canisius’ Catechism into Latvian and Ruthenian languages and in 1595 – Mikalojus Daukša’s Lithuanian Catechism. 

The Latin literature in Lithuania is represented by Nicolaus Hussovianus’ De statura, feritate ac venatione bisontis carmen, Ioannes Radvanus’ Radviliada, Mikołaj Krzysztof Orphan, Radziwiłł’s Journey to Jerusalem, Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski’s Lyricorum libri tres, and Albert Wijuk Kojałowicz’s Histoariae Lituanae. Maciej Stryjkowski’s Chronicle as well as plays by Ursula Francisca Radziwiłł and works by Adam Stanisław Tadeusz Naruszewicz, Julian Ursyn Niemciewicz, Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki, Władysław Syrokomla, Teodor Narbutt, and Czeslaw Miłosz are landmarks of Polish literature. Byelorussian literature is marked by works of the Philomath Jan Czecziot, Yanka Kupala, Alojza Paszkiewicz-Ciotka, and Jakub Kolas, Ukrainian – by works of Taras Shevchenko. The Jewish tradition is marked by such monumental figures as the Vilna Gaon and Moshe Kulbak.

The lives and work of many Lithuanian writers are associated with Vilnius. Tomas Venclova, a poet who brings fame to the name of Lithuania today, is also originally from Vilnius.

 

Sigitas Narbutas

Literary historian, bibliographer, translator, and Doctor of Humanities

 

RECENT BOOK PUBLISHING DEVELOPMENT

Publishing in Lithuania over the years of independence has undergone the same developments as its counterparts in Eastern Europe:

•  The deterioration of the old structure of publishing 

•  The formation of a new one

•  Incredible growth in early 1990s, a decline in the middle 1990s, and a new revival

•  Collapse in 2009 due to financial crisis

 

Lithuanian publishers have proved their ability to find their place under the conditions of the market economy and make a substantial contribution to the development of the economy, education and culture in the new Lithuania despite the difficulties related to the small market, and the challenges it has posed.

Restoration of Lithuania’s independence caused the transition to a market economy, the changes were facilitated and speeded up by the rapid changes in political and social life, the easing of censorship, the amendment of laws related to publishing. Publishing became one of the most profitable industries. In the 

early 90’s the profit could seek up to 300 per cent. 1990–1992 years can even be called Golden Age in publishing, as it was possible to sell several hundred thousand copies of one book. The number of new publishers increased rapidly and in 1992 reached 500 publishers that had published at least one book, booklet or brochure per year (in 1990 it was only 71). 

The growth stopped due to the crisis in Russia. The number normalized until 2009 (547 publishers), but started to drop in 2010 (442). National library registered 470 enterprises in 2012 that bought at least 1 ISBNfor new title. But only 17 per cent of publishers continuously develop the publishing market and are stable book publishers.

In 1993 the situation became particularly difficult as Lithuania introduced its own national currency, reduced inflation and books became a luxury product. Publishing stopped being a profitable business. 

By around 1998 the local publishing market stabilized and was saturated. The Russian Financial crisis dealt a painful blow to the Russia-orientated Lithuanian economy. By 1999 book sales dropped by one third. Many publishers had their production piled up in bookshops or in warehouse. To invigorate sales, some publishers embarked on bookselling themselves while others tried to offer lower prices for their books. 

The New Millennium came with recovering economy. Publishers started feeling the benefits, the turnovers of the biggest publishers started growing. Publishers tended to relate the recovery of publishing not to the economy, but rather to new methods of running their business. More attention was paid to bookselling and product quality. 

A trend towards concentration among publishers was emerging. Lithuanian publishers mostly concentrate on the domestic market. A few publishers work for overseas markets. But publishers abroad are gradually discovering Lithuanian writers. Like in some other countries, Lithuania has no specific law on book publishing. The same laws governing business and media, as well as the same publishing standards, are applied.With no defined cultural policy, the support and assistance system for book publishing undergoes changes from time to time. Publishing is mostly supported through the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Science. The main aim of state subsidies is to reduce prices for books and thus make books more affordable for individual buyers and libraries. The state also provides its support for publishing through the Culture Foundation and a variety of other special foundations and programmes.

 

OUTPUTS AND PRINT RUNS

A certain breakthrough took place in 1994 with 2.885 titles published. At the period of 2003–2008 it normalized and was a bit more than 4.500 titles per year. Print runs had also been fluctuating with the times. In 1991 it almost reached 35 million and during the period of 2003–2007 it stabilized at around 8 million. An average print runs for books as well reached a peak in 1991 at 34.935 copies. Later it fell to 1.670 copies in 

2002. At 2005–2007 the average was 1.800 of copies. There was a drop to 1.200 in 2010. In 2009–2013 slowdown stayed to 1.400 and even to 900 of copies of original literature! A book that sells in 3.000 copies 

during two months is considered a bestseller.

The only statistic data that shows development of publishing sector is collected by National library. Statistics show not only books, but booklets or brochures as well that are published by state institutions and individual publishers. Unfortunately, provided statistic data doesn’t show the numbers of new editions and reprints (Table 1). There was significant decrease of new titles published per year during financial crisis of 2009 – 1.500 less new books were published. But situation stabilized in 2012 to about 3.400 new titles per year.

 

Published by subject categories in 2013, in comparison with 2008:

•  Fiction dropped by 25 per cent

•  Educational dropped by 41 per cent

•  Non fiction dropped by 13 per cent

 

Average of print run – 1300 copies

 

Institutions and individual publishers that produced at least one book, booklet or brochure a year:

 

•  2006 – 484 publishers   •  2011 – 455 publishers

•  2007 – 455 publishers   •  2012 – 470 publishers

•  2008 – 477 publishers   •  2013 – 470 publishers

•  2009 – 547 publishers   •  2014 – 481 publishers

•  2010 – 442 publishers   •  2015 – 502 publishers

 

From 2008 number of companies publishing books, booklets and brochures significantly decreased. In 2011 more than 85 per cent publishers published 10 or fewer titles of books per year. It means that only about 15 per cent of publishers continuously develop the publishing market and are stable book publishers.

 

TAXATION 

Since 2003 a tax privilege of 5 per cent VAT has been applied to books. However, 18 per cent VAT on printing, paper and typographic materials did not help to guarantee consumer friendly price. But this was just a trifle compeering to VAT reform in the 2009. VAT rate on books was raised to 9 per cent and standard VAT rate went up to 19 per cent. Certainly, VAT rate increasment on books didn’t have any positive economic effect for state budget, but there was strong Government position for apply solid standard VAT rate in Lithuania. With great support of International Publishers Association and Federation of European Publishers, public and number of politicians, 9 per cent of VAT on books were left with no term from 2011. 

Standard VAT was raised to 21 per cent and is applied for book-toys, e-books, newspapers and printing industry.

In 2009–2011 the development of Lithuanian book publishing industry was influenced by taxes reform. 

When the new tax system and financing policy for literacy promotion was implemented, as well small and medium business development funding programs were reduced, book publishing and printing houses faced financial problems. 

Publishing sector was influenced by these unfavorable factors:

•  Global economic crisis

•  The increase of value-added tax rate for books from 5% to 9% in 2009 

•  Taxing of authors’ revenues by social and health  insurance from 0% to 39.98% +15% of  income tax

•  Reduction of state funding for publishing;

•  Reduction of “Scholar’s basket” for textbooks

 

The unfavorable factors influenced:

•  Collapse of main Lithuanian book sellers (small  publishing houses were left with no reliable book distribution alternative)

•  Bankrupt or reorganization of book sellers and small  publishing houses

•  Difficulties in settlements with authors and partners

•  Employee lay offs (every 4th employee in publishing sector was laid off)

•  No opportunities for young specialists (students) to get engaged in publishing

•  Decrease in purchase/sales of books

•  Decrease in editions

•  Decrease in variety of books

•  Withhold from investments into e-publishing

•  PIRACY!

 

Book publishing – still the only trade branch with annual negative development:

•  Till 2012 Lithuanian economy reached pre-crisis level of 2008, but book publishing sector still stays in crisis situation

•  Publishing houses experiences losses from main activities, and tries to defuse situation with income from other activities

•  There is no profit for the future investments (e-publishing)

 

PUBLISHING STRUCTURE

Publishing companies and publishers of state institutions, religious institutions, universities and others produce ⅔ of the annual output. ⅓ is produced by the state institutions, printers, individual publishers, and artistic institutions. Over the last few years a few large publishers have come to dominate market. Privately owned, general publishing houses with small staff dominate. The average is 7 full time employees and the largest publishers employ 15 to 50 people. The practice of contracting freelance editors and other specialists is widespread. In total, around 3.000 people are employed in publishing. 

The big cities, especially Vilnius, have the greatest concentration of publishing companies. Some publishers operating in the periphery focus primarily on religion needs and works by local authors.

 

Financial crisis of 2008–2009 influenced the turnover of the publishing houses:

•  18–20 (medium) book publishing houses kept the turnover of 0,3–1,5 million euros, or increased it from 18% to 27%

•  The turnover of the 4–5 (biggest) publishing houses in the market decreased from 70% to 59%

•  Number of small publishing houses with turnover to 0,3 million stayed the same 12–14%.

 

 

E-PUBLISHING

E-publishing in Lithuania experiences the phase of introduction and research for possibilities. Publishers are still testing the market and trying to find creative and effective solutions which would help to expand the readership of such books. They realize that entertainment market – book readership is suffering from competition with internet, video, gaming, etc. E-books could take back people’s time from those 

things. Publishers and retailers should grow technical competence and have significant ownership of technology. Competing with English, Russian books – potentially big threat for local book businesses. 

Big language book market are “head and shoulders” better in supply. And buying e-books in those markets is easy.

Alma Littera Sprendimai started e-book retail business in 2012. It is part of a group of companies which include publishing and print books wholesale and retail. As well company does wholesale of ebooks by providing backend which can be used by ecommerce websites to add e-books to their assortment. E-book sales still makes only 2% of total books market revenue in Lithuania in 2014. Assortment 

is around 1000 titles, most of them popular titles – new, bestsellers, etc. Overall, growth rate is too low to sustain e-book market for both publishers and retailers in medium-long term. In August 2015 Alma Littera Sprendimai launched Milžinas app for iOS and Android. Customer buys e-book at e-shop, and e-book appears “magically” in app. Milžinas is a platform to sell Lithuanian e-books which connects readers, publishers and online shops. For readers Milžinas provides world-class e-book reading application for smartphones and tablets. For publishers Milžinas gives convinient online tools to upload  e-books and start selling in minutes. And for e-shops Milžinas provides catalog of e-books to easily integrate into any e-shop infrastructure. Milžinas is a leading e-book player in Lithuania by catalog size and sales volume making more than 90% of e-book market and growing more than 80% in 2015. Technology is localy developed and constantly updated by in-house team.

 

An e-book repertory is still quite narrow. The majority are textbooks for universi-ties and cognitive educational literature. However, there is some fiction, children literature, love-stories, psychology, self-help books, and textbooks for school provided by biggest publishing houses.The great majority of Lithuanian e-books contain only text.

The major Lithuania e-publishers today are Alma Littera (fiction, novels), Šviesa (textbooks), TEV (textbooks), Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Press Technika (textbooks for Universities). But quite active also are small publishing houses Kitos Knygos, Eugrimas, Svajonių Romanai, Luceo, Žara and others.

At the moment there are no favorable conditions to develop e-book market in Lithuania because of: 

•  Piracy of e-content, as it is a crucial factor for small language countries book market development

•  Publishers didn’t include copyright for e-book publishing and distribution until recent years

•  There is no legal regulation for e-book function as a book, so standard VAT of 21% is applied (lower VAT of 9% is  applied to paper books)

 

REPERTORY

The ethnic profile of Lithuania affects the publishing business as well. Books published in the Lithuanian language constituted 80.6 per cent in the early 1990s. Later on, this figure grew to reach 93 per cent in 2008 and it stays similar.

 

Though recently 48–54% books in the market are translations:

•  Translations from English speaking countries increased from 34% to 54% in 2005–2011 

•  Translations of CIS countries works decreased from 8% to 5% in 2005–2007, but later increased by 12%

•  Translations from other European countries decreased from 36% to 24%

•  Translations from small language countries decreased from 21% to 10%

 

Fiction literature dominates. In 2011 around 38 per cent of books were fiction. It should be noted that a number of local fiction titles were published at the initiative of the author. A substantial part of the literature was poetry. By circulation figures, translated fiction works have always outnumbered books by Lithuanian authors. 

Publications for children increased every year until 2008. There were 470 titles published in around 1048.2 thousand copies in 2009. But number decreased in 2010 to 297 titles and 670 hundreds of copies. In 2011 there was an increase of children books to 398 titles in around 842 hundreds of copies. However, it seems that publishing of colourful books illustrated by Lithuanian authors is too expensive for publishers and for readers as well. 

Education reform in 1990 gave the impetus to numerous publishers to develop textbooks publishing. Educational publishing produced fewer new titles than fiction, but outstripped it in print runs. In 2008 there were 289 books published for schools and 546 books for students. Later numbers decreased: in 2009 there were 238 books published for schools and only 350 books for students; in 2010 – 263 books for schools and 195 for students. In 2011 situation stabilized – 296 books published for schools and 196 books for students.

Religious, political and legal literature is published in small quantities. 

The small market puts limitation on the range of publishing. 

For example, audio books never gained the popularity that was expected.

 

 

 

TRANSLATION GRANT PROGRAMME

The Lithuanian Culture Institute invites publishers to submit applications to its Translation Grant Programme. The purpose of the Translation Grant Programme is to promote Lithuanian literature by granting foreign publishers assistance for the translation of works from Lithuanian, or works which are related to Lithuania.

Translation grants are available twice a year for those who are interested in translating and publishing books by Lithuanian authors.

Publishers may apply for either partial or total coverage of the cost of the translation. Grants will be allocated for the translation of original works of literature, fiction, children’s literature, publications on the cultural heritage, and the humanities (philosophy, literary criticism, non-fiction, history and other fields), as well as for the translation of other important books and publications.

The deadlines for applying are 1 April and 1 October. All applications will be considered by an independent selection committee consisting of five experts.

 

The application for a translation grant must include:

• a completed application form,

• a copy of the contract with the owner of the rights

• a copy of the contract with the translator

• the translator’s qualifications (e.g. CV, previous translations)

• a brief presentation about the publishing house

• a short covering letter justifying the proposed work

 

The application for a sample translation grant must include:

• a completed application form

• a short covering letter justifying the proposed work

• the translator’s qualifications (e.g. CV, previous translations)

• the agreement of the owner of the rights to translate the proposed work

In special cases, a copy of the proposed text (a maximum of one squire [or 40,000 signs with spaces] for prose, and 120 lines for poetry) might be requested.

Applications can only be submitted by e-mail.

For further information, please contact: kotryna.pranckunaite@lithuanianculture.lt

 

PHENOMENON OF THE INTERNATIONAL VILNIUS BOOK FAIR

The Second Christmas – this is how Lithuanian publishers call Vilnius Book Fair, which awaits its fans every February at the Exhibition and Conference Center Litexpo. Lithuanian Publishers Association is one of the organizers of the event. Publishers around the globe rush to publish the most interesting and beautiful books by Christmastime, in time for the gift-buying fever. Vilnius Book Fair that takes place soon after Christmas is an additional opportunity to organize writers’ meetings with readers and introduce new books.

What makes this fair famous? The fact that it is the biggest book fair in the Baltic States since 2000. Also, it is one of the most significant cultural events in Lithuania. Vilnius Book Fair is exclusively focused on the reader; its main accent is on books and cultural events, as well as on the possibility for authors to interact with their readers.

Another thing that makes the book fair so famous is the usually long and impressive list of its foreign guests. Recently, the fair has been visited by such stars of the literary world as Alessandro Baricco, John Irving, Andrei Makine, Jostein Gaardner, Joanne Harris, Melvin Burgess, Sofi Oksanen, Yuri Slezkine, Mike Gayle, Etgar Keret, David Foenkinos, Yasmina Khadra, and many others.

The cultural program is very broad – more than 400 cultural events each year: seminars for professionals, meetings with authors, book presentations, discussions, readings, concerts, performances, films, awards, contests and events for children, etc.

One of the core events for children at Vilnius book fair is the creative studio You Can Create a Book. The idea for this was developed in the book fair of 2003 by the graphic artist and book illustrator Sigutė Chlebinskaitė. Studio invites visitors to participate in countless creative workshops, readings, and meetings with children’s literature authors as well as book illustrators from Lithuania and abroad. The main goal of the studio is to familiarize the kids with the development of the book from ancient times till now. In 2011, the studio celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Adults, who enjoy discussions and intelligent conversations, may visit Discussion Club. Club adds a more intellectual content to the fair. Its events are not associated with any particular publishing house or new publication. Prominent intellectuals from Lithuania and abroad, artists and scientists take part in the Discussions Club. 

Art, film and music fans will not feel left out either. Book fair features exhibitions of famous Lithuanian and foreign artists, illustrators, and photographers, as well as video and sound installations. Most of them are being held in Lithuania for the first time. Poetry read to jazz is a special feature of the so-called Long Friday (on Friday the fair is open till 9PM!). Visitors also have the opportunity to see screenings of the latest movies made after well-known novels, and documentary films about writers, poets and artists.Every year, since 2008, the Vilnius Book Fair attracts more and more visitors. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to call the Book Fair a cultural feast at the end of the cold and unpredictable Lithuanian winter.

 

 

LITHUANIAN PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION  (Lietuvos leidėjų asociacija, LLA)

LLA was founded in 1989. Its functions include the representation of the public opinion of its members on the national level and the introduction of their production on the international level. At the moment the Association unites private publishing houses as well as non-governmental organizations (NGO) mostly concentrating on specialized publishing. The membership of the LLA includes 40 members operating in the publishing sector. It equals about ⅓ of all active publishing houses that publish about 80 per cent of books.

LLA believes that publishing is a very important sector as it directly influences and introduces the national culture, politics, education, art, leisure, tourism, etc.

LLA is a non-governmental organization not seeking to make any profit. The main aims of LLA encompass:

•  Protect and represent the interests of its members in the  national and international area

•  Stimulate the development of highly cultivated publishing Culture

•  Increase the competence level of the publishers

•  Collaborate with the national and EU institutions in preparing standard acts related to the publishing sector

•  Stimulate the reading of valuable literature

•  Initiate scientific researches

•  Organize cultural, literacy and reading  promotion events

•  Coordinate, organize and support the participation of Lithuanian publishers in the international book fairs

 

Since 2004 the LLA has been a full and equal member of the Federation of European Publishers (FEP).

Questions (?): Aida V. Dobkeviciute, Executive Director 

Vokiečių g. 18 A-7, lt-01130 Vilnius

Phone +370 675 75672 | E-mail   info@lla.lt 

www.lla.lt

 

 

Lithuanian Publishers Association

Vokiečių g. 18A, LT 01130, Vilnius
Ph.: +370 675 75692
E-mail: info@lla.lt
www.lla.lt

LLA members