Friday, February 26, 2016

Self-Publishing Taking Off in Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 26 – Some three million Russians want to self-publish their books, according to Elena Gorelova in today’s “Vedomosti;” and an entire industry is emerging to help them do so, creating yet another means for Russians to reach out to one another largely bypassing the restrictions being imposed by the state.

            The Internet plays many of the roles that samizdat did in late Soviet times, but most posts on it are relatively short and thus do not lend themselves to the easy dissemination of larger works or the reproduction of these works in hard copy either for broader dissemination or more permanent holdings.

            But those who have prepared such works seldom can find publishers who will handle them given the rising costs of paper and printing, the declining purchasing power of Russian consumers and institutions, and editorial concerns about quality or even getting in trouble with the authorities.

            Consequently, Russians are beginning to do what many in the West are already doing: turning to “the services of electronic samizdat” which include firms that format, publish and sell the works of such authors (

            Among the largest of these firms is, which has offices in Yekaterinburg and Cracow, but many more are getting involved, Gorelova says. “There are approximately 29,000” self-published authors in Russia now thanks to Ridero, and their numbers are increasing by approximately 200 a day.

            Once a Russian has prepared a manuscript in an electronic format, she says, he can get it published following about 20 minutes of conversation with Ridero.  Writers are required to sign an agreement specifying that there is nothing that denigrates the president, propagandizes suicide among children “and other prohibited themes.”

            The company may then produce a few copies for the writer or support its sale on various Internet platforms, although the evidence so far is that few of these self-published authors see their works attracting many purchasers or get much income from sales. Most get less than a 100 US dollars a quarter, of which they must give 20 percent to the publisher.

            Many of those who turn to such services only want copies for themselves, their families and friends – typical charges for four copies of a 200-page paperback are 6800 rubles (100 US dollars) – but others hope for large sales.  And occasionally, Ridero says, it attracts a star writer who makes money for the company and the author as well.

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