Book market regulation and promotion of a culture of reading in Croatia

Knjižni Blok (NGO), Croatia
IFCD funding: USD 26,000 | Timeline: February 2012 – February 2013

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About the project

Aim
Strengthen the book industry infrastructure in Croatia by mapping the sector. Use findings to propose changes in legislation and regulation. Increase employment opportunities and earnings potential of small and medium sized publishing firms. Bring relevant stakeholders of Croatia's book industry together. Improve international cooperation in the book industry, especially with countries that have similar languages, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. Reignite public debate and raise awareness of books and the importance of a culture of reading among the general public.

About the organization
Established in March 2011, Knijzni Blok (Book Block) is an NGO whose main goal is to improve the status of books in Croatia and to influence regulation of the local book market through the creation of a platform for policy work in the field of publishing. Knijzni Blok focuses on direct assistance to independent publishers and booksellers but also on other book industry professionals such as translators, editors, designers and printers.

Local Context
Lack of regulation coupled with decreases both in sales and state financial aid have resulted in a crisis of the Croatian book market. This has a dire impact on the livelihood of smaller stakeholders, forced out of business by bookshop chains with links to major publishers. Many small businesses are closing, and with no vocational training devoted to booksellers, knowledge of best practices is waning and independent booksellers are vanishing. As a result of this crisis, the quality and versatility of the Croatian publishing industry’s output is vanishing.

Main objectives
By advocating regulation and policy-making, this project is helping create the conditions for the Croatian book industry to thrive. In the short term it brings experts together to develop and implement research strategies related to mapping the local publishing industry and to reaching out to state level stakeholders. In the longer term, this project aims to produce and distribute policy papers and encourages advocacy at local, regional and state levels. It also targets the general public, because raising awareness about reading culture and improving the status of books’ in local media is an additional objective designed to raise awareness about the sector’s difficulties and encourage change.

Main activities
Knjizni Block lays the groundwork for book market regulation by promoting cultural policies designed to encourage the production of books by small and medium publishers. The NGO began by bringing together a group of legal experts and economists that undertook group research through the mapping of the local book industry. They also initiated dialogue with stakeholders at the state level about articulation of public policy, legislation, and other issues of significance for the publishing industry.

In the long term, Knjizni Block will produce and distribute policy papers related to the project and engage in advocacy at state, regional and local levels. It will act as an interlocutor with relevant institutions and it will establish cooperation with decision-makers. Furthermore, the NGO will uphold the status of books in society by promoting the culture of reading and improving the image of books in local media.

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