Austėja Masiokaitė
www.kamane.lt, 2011-10-28
The newest publication of LAA Publishing House "Stasys". Illustration for the album cover of S.Eidrigevičius

In brief: The director of Lithuanian Artists Association Publishing House Danutė Zovienė speaks of Lithuanian books as equal to the books of other countries in terms of quality and design. The paradox is, according to the talker, that high quality is also often the flaw of contemporary Lithuanian books: luxurious editions let the publishers sell shoddy novels at high prices. D. Zovienė also names other problems related to book publishing in Lithuania and difficulties of publishing art albums.

What is important to a good book design? The main user‘s requirement is the possibility to perceive information comfortably and quickly. A book as an item is set for the eye and hand of a human being. Any book must be convenient to be read and held. On the other hand, every book has its target. According to that, several types of books are distinguished: fiction, children‘s literature, science literature, art books... The book design depends on contents and type so that the reader can tell at once where the children‘s book or art album is.

For example, art publications have their own requirements. They are designed to be thumbed, studied on the table, so their formats are larger and chalky paper is used. It is highly important for the reader to perceive the reproduced artwork at one glance – the distance between the eye and table must be taken into consideration. Everything is based on physiology in the book‘s construction and the novelties rarely serve the purpose. If the text is unreadable and the image is invisible, the book does not make any sense.

The aim of every publisher is to sell the book and to make a profit, especially in Lithuania, with its tiny market. International book fairs are not very helpful – we do not have enough writers, winners of Nobel‘s Prize. Just several authors are translated into other languages. Only illustrated books for children or art books can be in great request at international fairs because of their visual language that does not require translation. That is the reason why editions are so small in Lithuania – from 500 to 1000 copies for art publications and up to 5000 copies for fiction. The possibilities of buyers are lower, more and more people read electronic books.

Another sore problem in Lithuania is book distribution. Bookshops are secure strongholds for many publishers. Bookstores order just about 5 copies of art publications per year at best and they are returned to publishers in case of unsuccessful sale. Creating is not the problem – we have great professionals. The publishers of art books have to figure out how to find money for publishing and then – how to sell the book.

D. Zovienė is setting her hopes on the brand-new album of Stasys Eidrigevičius – the world-famous artist. Lithuanian Artists Association Publishing House is probably the only office that consistently publishes books of contemporary art.

In D. Zovienė‘s opinion, information publications should eventually turn to the electronic format. On the other hand, children‘s books will remain in paper because teaching the child to read on screen would be a nonsense. The first books are read to the child when one is hold by parents or grandparents; that is how the child‘s relation with the world and surroundings is developed and the book reading culture is transmitted.

Finally, the respondent doubts if the art publications will move to the digital space because it would not give any aesthetical experiences. Traditional published book is not flat; it is three-dimensional – as architecture. On the whole, the prediction of the death of published books is too early. Published books, differently than the electronic ones, have their beginning, end and narration that develops as a documentary film. The paper book can be read anywhere and whenever – this still ensures a particular pleasure.

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