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Book instead of card – a beautiful gesture with a cause

A mere 10-15% of books reach readers in Bulgaria online

Photo: Pixabay

In eager anticipation of the holiday season many of us have been searching the internet for “ideas for presents”. As 11 months have rolled by, 2020 has proved to be a year like no other, something that will inevitably affect the way we shall be celebrating. The new stricter anti-epidemic measures which will be in place at least until 21 December, are quelling the desire for company parties and for pre-Christmas shopping. And even though stores outside of shopping malls remain open, some trade segments are certain to suffer losses.

In an interview for the BNR, Velizara Dobreva, chair of the management board of the Bulgarian Book Association stated that the current partial lockdown will have a negative effect on book trading.

“We agree that we are living in the conditions of pandemic, but books have to keep on reaching people, even when in complete isolation. At this time people need to read in exactly the same way that they need food and medicines.”

In her words readers are displaying specific characteristics in their behavior:

“Book stores are the main channel through which books reach their readers. We all talk of online trading, but in reality only 10-15% of all books reach people in this country online.”

Still, that shouldn’t discourage us from gifting a book for Christmas, or of adding new titles to our own home libraries.

“Because by gifting books, we can give faith, hope or just a good story that offers an escape from our troubled times and minds,” publisher Victoria Biserova says.

In her words books fall in the category of mid-priced gifts. They usually cost 15-20 Leva, and for this price we can make a gift that is valuable and will be used for a long time. And one more thing “books can be chosen and gifted just like a card because sometimes the title is so powerful that it can convey a message all its own”.

Victoria Biserova is the inspiration and motor behind the campaign “Buy 1 book” aimed at encouraging reading among children. But it is also a way to call for support for the people who have dedicated their lives to books:

“It takes more than authors, publishers and traders to create a book, it also takes artists, typesetters, designers, editors who all work hard to help books reach their readers. More often than not they don’t have contracts of employment with the publishing houses, that is why these months have been difficult for them.”

During the first wave of Covid-19 in the spring 30% of publishing house and book store owners were forced to cut their staff and only 72% were able to partially recover afterwards. The severe blow suffered by the book industry resulted in a 50%-70% drop in book sales, Bulgarian Book Association data show.

“If a creative industry does not receive adequate payment for its work, the end product is not good enough and little by little the people who dedicate their efforts to this kind of creative work lose their faith and disappear,” Velizara Dobreva says.

Besides encouraging reading, the “Buy 1 book” campaign among children also aims to assist the book market. After its April and September editions it is now set to take place for the third time this year. The sector has transformed its message to: “Buy 1 book. Give it to someone for Christmas.” Publishers call it a meaningful gift with a cause because they believe that books are the most worthwhile and timeless gift, a gift that brings love and warmth.

Edited by Yoan Kolev

Photos: library

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