16 September 08 | Chad W. Post

Not too far removed from the New York article, is this piece from the Moscow News about the recent Moscow International Book Fair.

The Moscow International Book Fair (MIBF), which takes place every September, is considered the biggest event in the domestic publishing area, and a benchmark for conclusions about developments in the industry and its current state.

What has changed in the year that has passed since the last MIBF? Have there been any major new trends? How have the publishers adapted to the changing environment and new challenges? Those are normal questions that are asked at a time of any new Moscow book fair. And, answering to those questions this year, many would just shrug.

What was this year’s book fair’s biggest theme? It’s hard to say, if we don’t talk about those officially imposed. What was the main event? Again, it is hard to tell. True, there were some events to commemorate the late write Alexander Solzhenitsyn, but his death just happened to almost coincide with this year’s MIBF.

Good to see that publishing is screwed worldwide . . .

And what a depressing ending:

Book prices in Russia may have really reached the point at which raising them wouldn’t make any sense: they are already too high, and if they go any higher, people will be less and less willing to buy them. [. . .]

At the same time, the arrival of new technology in the publishing area is slow and far from smooth. Prospects of electronic versions of books are unclear because people here are unwilling to pay for, say, reading books online or downloading them to their portable devices. The e-book division of the web portal KM.ru, which provided subscribers with access to hundreds of books in an electronic format recently closed down due to losses.

In this situation, when the future looks not exactly rosy for the domestic book industry, new ideas and strategies are vital, but there seem to be none or too few of them.

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