Lithuanian literature and its dissemination
Creation and dissemination of literature – one of the underlying parts of culture – is supported with the programme funds of the Ministry of Culture and the Lithuanian Council for Culture. The state supports preservation of literary tradition, publication of old literary sources, publishing of contemporary works of literature, and translations of important literary texts in the field of humanities by way of competition through the Lithuanian Council for Culture (LCC). About 30 one- or two-year individual state grants are awarded to writers and translators annually.
Seeking to promote creation of fiction and literature in the field of humanities, as well as it critical reflection and dissemination in Lithuania and abroad, the National Literature Programme was approved in 2014.
In order to encourage and appreciate the creators, translators and critics of literature, the Ministry of Culture has been annually awarding premiums for the best works: the Armchair of the Translator of the Year (in cooperation with the Lithuanian PEN Centre), St. Jerome’s Prize (in cooperation with the Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators), as well as the Yotvingian Prize and the Young Yotvingian Prize (in cooperation with the Association “Druskininkai Poetic Fall”).
Martynas Mažvydas Premium for merits to the Lithuanian language, history of writing and book art is awarded for the best research achievements in Lithuanian literature, language history, culture and book science.
The Programme of Lithuanian Literature Dissemination has been implemented with state funds by the Lithuanian Culture Institute (LCI) which coordinates translation of Lithuanian literature and publishing it in foreign languages, presentation of books, their authors, translators, artists and illustrators in international literary events, book fairs, as well as writer exchange and residence programmes. The funds from the Ministry of Culture have also been used for publishing of about 30 books of Lithuanian authors in foreign publishing houses annually, and for organisation of translation workshops and seminars for the translators of Lithuanian literature into foreign languages every two years.
The Council for Literature submits recommendations regarding literature policy formation and implementation.
The main literary festivals are “Poetry Spring”, organised across Lithuania, and “Druskininkai Poetic Fall”. The relevant issues of Lithuanian and foreign literature are reflected upon in the international festival “Nordic Summer”. The Writers’ Club has been consistently presenting latest books and their authors and acquainting with literary news and topicalities.
The most important event targeted at books in Lithuania is the International Vilnius Book Fair – one of the major and key book fairs in the Baltic Region (about 400 cultural events, 60 000–65 000 visitors a year), held in February.
In order to promote reading and help improve reading skills, the Reading Promotion Programme was approved in 2006. The Programme supports various reading promotion initiatives and projects, the election of the “Book of the Year” (organised by Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania), the “Top 12 Most Creative Books” competition (organised by the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore), and the event “Lithuania Reads” (coordinated by the Lithuanian Publishers Association) organised on 7 May, the Press Recovery Day.
With the view of fostering book art and book culture and seeking to evaluate the best books in terms of artistic typography and printing quality, the Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with the Lithuanian Artists Association and Vilnius Academy of Arts, has been organising the annual Book Art Competition. The most beautiful Lithuanian books are presented in Vilnius Book Fair as well as in the collections of the most beautiful books of the world at Frankfurt and Leipzig fairs. The winners of the Lithuanian Book Art Competition have also been participating in Baltic book art competitions.
The best, most creative and most original children’s books as well as their artists and illustrators are presented annually in the Lithuanian stand at the International Bologna Children’s Book Fair.
Lithuanian Council for Culture, www.ltkt.lt
Lithuanian Culture Institute, www.lithuanianculture.lt
Lithuanian Writers Union, www.rasytojai.lt
Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators, www.llvs.lt
Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, www.lnb.lt
Lithuanian Section of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People), www.rubinaitis.lnb.lt
Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, www.llti.lt
Vilnius Academy of Arts, www.vda.lt
Lithuanian Artists’ Association, www.lds.lt
Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre LITEXPO, www.litexpo.lt
During the period of independence, changes typical of all post-Soviet countries occurred in the Lithuanian publishing industry – the monopoly of publishing houses run by the state has disappeared and private publishers were established. The sector’s growth was particularly successful (in terms of the number of titles of published books and the average of editions) in 1990–2000, yet the financial crisis of 2009 noticeably slowed down the development of the publishing industry (the number of titles decreased to 1 500). The situation has recently stabilised and the conditional recovery of publishing has been observed (around 3 400 books are published a year; the overall edition volume is 4 280 000 copies), although due to the small market of readers in the Lithuanian language editions and the number of published books are relatively small and are likely to decrease (average editions of original poetry are 300–800 copies, original prose – 1 000–2 000 copies). Although the biggest editions are related to the publishing of translated prose, in particular Anglo-Saxon (1 500–3 000 copies), a tendency of growing interest in the works of contemporary Lithuanian writers has been recently observed.
According to the statistics of 2015, the number of publishers who have published at least one book, brochure or booklet was 502, although the number of publishing houses that actually operate in the publishing market is around 50–60.
Electronic publishing has only been starting to establish in Lithuania (about 2 per cent of the overall publishing market), the conditions of this market and competitive functioning have been investigated, efficient buying-off solutions to its development have been searched (in particular evaluating the competition of internet and online/video games as well as the threat of piratical reproduction).
At present, digital teaching aids are most developed and most popular.
The e-book trading platform “Milžinas” (Giant) began functioning in Lithuania a couple of years ago.
In Lithuania, the VAT rate for printed books is 9 per cent; for e-books – 21 per cent.
In 1990, publishers established the Lithuanian Publishers Association (LPA) which today unites 45 publishing houses that cover 83 per cent of the entire book publishing market. Since 2003, LPA has joined the Federation of European Publishers (FEP); from 1999 to 2012, it was a member of the International Publishers Association (IPA); and since 2011, it has been a member of the National Association of Cultural and Creative Industries.
In 2005, the Lithuanian Academic Publishers Association (LAPA) started its activity. The Association unites 23 university, institute and college publishing houses and aims at creating the country’s academic e-publishing system, virtual library, as well as the database of e-documents for research and studies. LAPA coordinates participation of publishers in this field in national and international book fairs, thus Lithuanian academic publishing is also becoming more visible in the international academic context.
The Lithuanian Small and Medium Publishers Association (LSMPA), established in 2013, unites 15 publishing houses.
State financial support for the publishing of books, projects, trainings, seminars and international cooperation exchange of the publishing industry is granted by way of competition through the Council for Culture.
The Lithuanian Publishers Association and the Academic Publishers Association have been actively participating in the preparation of the programme of Vilnius book culture events and organisation of presentations of a guest country in international book fairs; LPA is also the organiser of the Lithuanian stand in Frankfurt Book Fair.
In order to make dissemination of Lithuanian literature in the German-speaking market more intensive, participation of Lithuania as the guest country in Leipzig Book Fair in 2017 has been organised. In 2018, with the view of acquainting the Anglo-Saxon market with our literature and encouraging closer cooperation in the fields of literature, publishing and printing, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will be the main guest countries at the International London Book Fair.
Lithuanian Publishers Association, www.lla.lt
Lithuanian Academic Publishers Association, www.akademinesleidyklos.lt
Lithuanian Small and Medium Publishers Association, www.leidyklos.org
The programme is coordinated by Advisor of Art and Creative Industries Department
Rasa Balčikonytė, tel.: (8 5) 219 3588, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org