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New chapter for Russia’s indie bookshops

As the country’s two biggest publishers join forces, small stores fight to keep independent publishing afloat.

Just off Moscow’s Tverskaya Ulitsa—home to the Ritz Carlton, Tiffany’s and some of the most expensive real estate in the world—there is a small yellow arch inscribed with the word “knigi” (books). Inside, Falanster has little decoration to speak of, save for a poster of Che Guevara by the cash register. Customers bump into each other as they wander through the small room. And everywhere—stacked in piles, spilling out of shelves—are books.

In May, Russia’s most powerful publisher, Eksmo, announced that it was acquiring its main competitor, AST. Eksmo and AST publications, which range from cookbooks to fantasy novels, account for around 40 percent of the Russian book market; in some areas, like fiction, their dominance is near-total.


Print digs in

Dealing as they are with competition from the Internet, not to mention bureaucratic hindrances, Russian print magazines are staying afloat – and bringing more revenues to publishers than websites.

According to the results of TNS Russia’s National Readership Survey, which was conducted from December 2011 through April 2012, weekly magazines about television and show business accounted for 52 percent of the average per-issue readership in Moscow.


State media faces funding cuts

Russian state-owned media outlets are to face budget cuts, as the government is to slash nearly 4 billion rubles from their planned funding this year.

The issue has been discussed at the governmental anti-crisis commission’s sessions, reported on Thursday, and the decision to reduce expenditures on the media has been endorsed at the governmental commission for budget planning, a source told the news website.

The information has been also confirmed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s press-secretary. “Budget requests are being approved at the moment. The general cuts for all state-owned media have been set at 5 percent,” Natalia Timakova was quoted as saying.


Pirates in Russia plunder e-book market

Russia's publishing industry faces a tough challenge in fighting the illegal downloading of books, which is limiting the sales of print and e-books.

Sales of e-books in Russia are rocketing. Increasing twelvefold in the past three years, sales in 2011 totalled 135m roubles (£2.6m). However, these are dwarfed by the high number of illegal downloads, which account for as much as 90pc of the e-book market. In Britain, illegal downloads make up only 29pc of the market, according to Entertainment Media Research.


First Issue of Cosmopolitan for iPad Released

The Russian edition of Cosmopolitan celebrates its 18th birthday in 2012. The very first Cosmopolitan for Russia was released in May 1994. The print run of 60,000 copies – enormous for that time – disappeared from shelves within mere days. Neither the publishers nor the readers had expected that degree of popularity. Print and radio media were all abuzz over the appearance of a new type of publication in Russia: It was a true glossy sensation.