In addition to the Congress of Translators, I was fortunate to attend the 27th International Moscow Book Fair on the 3-7th of September 2014. There I participated in a panel discussing self-publishing revolution and its onset in Russia.
Russian book industry is lagging behind its American counterpart in terms of its infrastructure and general consumer’s habits, yet its gross value is impressive – over 2 billion dollars a year. Most books in Russia are sold in print (97.5%) with an average price of five dollars, ten dollars in Moscow, while ebooks – 2.5% of the book market share, with a price of three dollars per ebook on average (the source is bookind.ru).
The book fair had attracted over a thousand of book industry experts and publishers from sixty three countries. Over 200,000 book titles were presented at the fair. Over 220,000 visitors had a chance to meet famous authors from Russia, UK, France, Poland and other countries.
As for my participation, I have shared my experience of selfpublishing in the UK with my Russian colleagues. Self-publishing has a long history in Russia, sites like Proza.ru and Lib.ru have been accumulating millions of selfpublished ebooks over the years that can be accessed by readers for free.
Monetising selfpublished works is a big problem in Russia. The vast majority of legacy published ebooks are pirated. Not that many Russian people are willing to pay for ebooks, especially if the books haven’t been properly written, edited and formatted as is the case with many self-published titles. Yet, it’s all changing now with anti-piracy laws becoming stricter.
Sites like Bookmate, Samolit and XinXii now distribute free and paid books written by self-published authors. The biggest ebook retailer Litres.ru also accepts such titles, as rumour has it, on an individual basis. Monetisation is now a very popular word in Russia.
Our panel hosted by Knigabyte focused on first successes of self-published authors in Russia. I have talked about ways of how Russian indie authors can break out in the oversaturated Western book market and I pointed out that one has to be extremely resourceful and competitive to achieve commercial success in the West.
I think that many Russian authors can at least succesfully fit the same niche as Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn dealing with Russia’s international image, if they focus on historical and political aspects of their works. Russian authors and publishers should be more pro-active outside Russia in terms of connecting to non-Russian audiences.
If you want to be read widely, communicating your writing is as important as writing itself.