Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Publication of Fiction and Poetry in Kazakhstan has Collapsed Since 1991, Astana Figures Show

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Aug. 28 – The number of copies of books of fiction and poetry published in Kazakhstan in 2021 was only one-eighth the number of this category of publications issued at the end of Soviet times when such publications were state-subsidized and now amounts to only six copies for every 100 residents of the republic under market conditions, statistics show.

            QMonitor journalist Akhmet Bayan says not only are there far fewer books of this type being published but the number of copies each has fallen radically. At the same time, some of the demand by Kazakhstanis for fiction and poetry is being satisfied by imports from the Russian Federation (

            The Kazakhstan National State Book Chamber reports that in 2021, republic publishes issued more than 5,000 books with a total print run of 12.6 million copies. But 9.3 million of these were textbooks for schools and universities. Only just over a million copies were of fiction and poetry directed at adults.

            The situation with respect to fiction and poetry for children in Kazakhstan is much worse: two years ago, only 380,000 copies were published, down from 7.7 million in 1990, of which 4.6 million were in the Kazakh language – and this despite the fact that the number of school-age children in Kazakhstan has increased over the last 30 years.

            In 2021, the Book Chamber reports, Kazakhstan imported more books from the Russian Federation than any other former Soviet republic, spending a total of 14.7 million US dollars on such publications. Belarus spent 13.0 million US dollars, Ukraine, 9.4 million US dollars, and Uzbekistan, 9.5 million US dollars.

            “It turns out,” Bayan says, that “Russian publications occupy half of the Kazakhstan market, and that a significant part of the second half, that is the production of domestic output goes for textbooks” – although the Chamber says that deliveries from the Russian Federation fell sharply in 2022.

            Summing up, the journalist observes that “the needs of the Russian speaking population of the Republic of Kazakhstan are quite fully being satisfied by Russian publishing houses, but Kazakh-speaking citizens, and especially Kazakh-speaking children, are experiencing a genuine book hunger,” something that does not bode well for the future.


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