The Moscow International Book Fair has just wound up (Sept. 5-9) and as yet little of interest has come across my desk to warrant coverage beyond noting that 100,000 visitors were expected.
But the Moscow IBF encompasses not just Russia but also the Confederation of Independent States (CIS) and it is there that the “headline” story emerges, courtesy of Kazakhstan’s 24.kz.
The main theme of the Moscow IBF this year was children’s literature, with 100,000 books from 300 publishers across 25 countries putting on the show.
Among them, Kazakstan’s publishing houses Foliant and Almatykitap Baspasy, which apparently sold more than half their books during the first three days of the event.
Where it gets especially interesting is that, among the 160 titles fielded by Almatykapap Baspasy publishing house, was a children’s fantasy novel by Zaure Turekhanova.
And it seems this is the first time a children’s fantasy novel has been published in Kazakhstan.
The book sold well at the MIBF, and we are left asking whether the previous absence of children’s literature in this genre in Kazakhstan is because there was no perceived consumer interest or because publishers chose to ignore the possibilities.
Hopefully the success of Turekhanova’s book will trigger further releases in Kazakstan.
For authors and publishers outside the country thinking this might be an opening, Kazakhstan has two official languages, Kazakh and Russian.
With just 5 million Kazakh speakers, translations into Russian might be the better bet, opening up opportunities across the CIS.
Kazakhstan could also prove to be a much-overlooked opportunity for ebooks. Kazakstan’s 18 million population has internet penetration at 76%, meaning there are some 14 million Kazakhs online.
That’s more than Belgium, Sweden, Portugal or Romania, and only 2 million shy of the Netherlands.
Kazakhstan’s own book fair was in April.