Large-scale in its scope Kyiv International Christian Book Festival consolidates a whole complex of projects facilitating the promotion of Christian publishing in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.

First and foremost, it’s the annual Christian book fair, which gathers participators from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Germany, USA and other countries. Considering both quantity and quality of represented publishing houses and writers, Kyiv Festival stands out as the largest Christian Book Festival within CIS space. It is also the pioneer one of its kind on the territory of Ukraine. Two years running our festival holds an exhibition jointly with Kyiv International Medvin Book Fair which indicates our desire to go beyond the limits of a rather narrow Christian market and represent our production on the secular market as well. Therefore, authors get wonderful opportunity to find a publisher for their works; publishers may expand the range of the authors published.

The organizers of the Festival clearly understand that Christian book success depends on a publisher’s work quality. While Northern America and Europe do have their well-established industry standards and traditions, our domestic publishing houses are compelled to recreate the whole infrastructure, connections from zero, just as well as they have to bring up and train proper specialists. After taking multiple educational courses (notably, Business of Magazine Publishing course, Financial Administration Training, Strategic Leadership Training) in International Christian Publishing Institute (Colorado Springs, USA), we decided to set up a Christian Publishing School. The School is a unique educational project for publishing training. During its existence Christian Publishing School held trainings and workshops for all its post-Soviet space participators on the following subjects: marketing, financial management, distribution, edit work etc. The training speakers’ list included Kent Wilson, former director of the NavPress publishing house, Peter Cunliffe, President of Editions Farrel Publisher and many others. Festival 2010 will also run the workshops for the publishers. Upon Festival 2010 closure the School will resume the regular study classes for all interested parties.

Christian community of CIS countries, unfortunately, is deprived of such form of activity as professional critique. The Knigonosha (The Bookpeddlar) Internet journal is called on to become a launchpad for the experts. The Knigonosha was the first magazine in Ukraine to offer a wide readership the information on contemporary Christian book publishing, its history and prospects. The journal’s main task is to help readers with their literature search or choice and keep them abreast of the latest events and developments both in national and international Christian book publishing.

The synergetic effect of all our project must result in Ukrainian Christian publishing (and CIS one, sequentially) skipping to a new qualitative level. We do believe that our Festivals will be similar to the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) annual exhibitions, managing to gather hundreds of members from US solely, where, on the average, every publishing house issues and reissues no less than 100 titles a year.





[april 2006]


The Task of the Festival is to introduce, inspire and challenge


Large-scale in its scope Kyiv International Christian Book Festival is to become the biggest forum of Christian literature in the history of Ukraine.

The Festival's Director Taras Boyko shares the difficulties, plans and prospects of the project as well as on the role the festival is to play in the development of the domestic market of Christian books with us.

-       Taras, You are a well-known organizer of various activities aimed at development of Christian publishing. Many people got already accustomed to Kyiv's monthly book fairs. What specific features distinguish the upcoming festival from all these customary fairs?

-       First and foremost, it's the festival's representation scope. Participation in the festival is in the agenda of Ukrainian Christian publishers and producers as well as of the guests from Russia, Belarus, Germany and USA. This is the first large-scale International Christian book festival in Ukraine. Another festival's distinguisher is the representation directness: the festival will host immediate Christian publishers and Christian items producers solely. There will be no stores, distributors or subpurchasers. One of the festival's goals is to introduce Ukrainian readers and book pedlars - books dealers - to those who produce the literature they read and distribute in order to ensure the development of a closer relationship which would contribute to Ukrainian book market formation.

-       What do you mean by the term of "Christian production"? What are the festival's organizers' criteria for a "Christian product"?

-       This point is clearly defined in the festival's Terms of Participation. We welcome organizations or individuals, whose activity is connected with assertion of Christian values in society and based on the immutability of God's Word, given to us through the Bible and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

-       Apparently, this is going to be a significant event for those who are geared up for a serious and professional work. In your view, is the legal and institutional chaos period in the national Christian book market finally over? Are our publishers ready yet to work according to all the rules of civilized market?

-       Yes, by all means. It we take a look at the history of Christian publishing development in Ukraine, we'll notice the tremendous growth - both quantitative and qualitative - in this part of Christian culture. Today we say with certainty that the publishing traditions of the early 90's, based generally on missionary activities and developed through missions' and charities' donations, - they are left behind in the past. Today, the overwhelming number of Christian publishing houses exist at their own expense earned through production and sales of books published.

-       So you think that it's all calm and serene on our front?

-       Well, it is still a long way off. As a matter of fact, despite rather extensive number of Russian and Ukrainian publishing houses the biggest problem is still underdeveloped system of books distribution. In contrast to secular book market where publishing houses have the opportunity to work not only through major distributors, but also through thousands of bookstores available even in smallest settlements, the ways of Christian book distribution currently do not differ much from the principles laid by book peddlers back in XIX century. In other words, distribution goes not through the Christian bookstores, but mainly through the books lots in churches, book peddlers or, whenever a chance, through the conferences which gather people from smaller towns. Thus, we can define the festival's another task: encourage the ones long-involved in such a book service (books ministry) to make the following steps in the industry development - provide a wider range of books and other items, open new stores and set up Christian book departments in local secular bookstores.

-       Why Christian publishers haven't yet happened, on the whole, to work through the secular bookstores?

-       I can answer basing on my own experience and on the experience of Bookshelf store in our cooperation with secular distribution networks. It turns out this way: secular distributors feel rather comfortable to put Bible into the common section with Blavatsky, Krishnamurti and other esoteric literature. As Christians, we feel our responsibility to ensure that people seeking God through the books do not walk the paths of false doctrines and teachings. Unfortunately, our many years' experience of partaking in secular book fairs and of dealing with secular distributors and stores, as well as the experience of other publishing houses, reveal rather low interest for evangelical literature in the world. And I am deeply convinced that we should direct our efforts, first of all, on the Church community, on the people seeking God. This is the reason why we need to position ourselves exactly as the CHRISTIAN stores, as the CHRISTIAN distribution centers.

-       Who are the target audience of the upcoming book festival: the Protestants solely or you are aiming at getting the interest of the whole Christian community?

-       We want to reach everyone. We want our festival to become a part of the processes taking place in modern Ukrainian Church. We want this big meeting to contribute to the initiation of mutual interest among confessions and to the search for the fundamentals that unite us rather than divide.

-       Festival is a rather loose concept. What Kyiv International Christian book Festival is to offer apart from publishing houses' stands and books' allotments?

-       The "festival" term really has a rather broad meaning, and we will work on to put it into future practice to the maximum of the term's concept. We would like to get away from the limited-variety format, in order to offer the visitors not only the books presentations but expand current festival's format into a true Christian holiday, including choirs' performances, participation of Christian classic and contemporary musicians, fine arts' exhibitions. We'll work on that kind of experience. Though, we already try to make this first festival a bright and eventful enough one. There will be meetings with the books' authors; publishers will represent their new books and projects. After the opening ceremony all the participants will be invited to the roundtable for a closer acquaintance and discussion of the difficulties and prospects of national Christian publishing industry.

-       Taras, you travel abroad a lot, where, as we all know, Christian book market has been taking shape for decades and large-scale actions and venues are customary events. Are Ukraine people ready for holding exhibitions, festivals and conferences of the Western scope?

-       There is a difference between the two Western examples. If we consider American one, the answer is definitely "no". Take a look at the annual CBA exhibitions (Christian Booksellers Associations) which gather hundreds of participants from USA only; and there every publishing house produces and reissues at the average over 100 titles a year. Ukraine's figures are many times lower. However, if we compare it with the volume of books published five years ago, while taking into account the present churches' growth rate, we may boldly state that we definitely have all the prospects. If we talk about Christian Europe, there we observe a completely different situation: an obvious common church decline. Certainly, general church decline reflects on the Christian literature production. As a result, the number of publishers and of books they publish is much less than in America. Against this background, we gladly recognize that our country actually takes the leading place in Europe in promoting Christian community.

-       As I understand it, the idea of Kyiv festival is a long-term one, and you are going to make it a traditional and remarkable event in the Christian life. What do you expect from this first meeting of publishers?

-       Yes, absolutely. In May we will start preparing for the second festival and the quantitative and qualitative composition of those to announce their participation in it will be the best evaluation of the first International Christian book festival success. We, the organizers, want all the participators and all the visitors to get a strong supply of encouragement and inspiration - for their future work and ministry.

Interview by Yuliy Morozov


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