Sunday, 20 April 2014

Book World Prague 2013 to focus on Slovakia

17 May 2013

Prague, May 16 (CTK) - The four-day Book World Prague 2013 trade fair connected with the 19th International Book Fair and Literary Festival that will focus on Slovak books and literature started Thursday.

On the occasion of the fair, 20 new Czech translations from Slovak are being launched.

Unlike Slovaks who commonly read Czech books, Czechs largely do not read books in Slovak.

Some 60 writers, artists and publishers are coming to Prague from Slovakia.

"We have an opportunity to realise again that Czech-Slovak relations are exceptionally good and keep developing especially in the sphere of culture," Slovak Culture Minister Marek Madaric said at the opening of the fair.

"The book culture is doing well in Slovakia even at the market time because we do not approach it as any other commodity. We support it with a lower VAT, through the Culture Ministry grant system and direct support to translations into foreign languages, to a large extent into Czech," Madaric said.

In Slovakia, some aspects of the book market are similar to those in the Czech Republic.

The prices of books have been increasing not only due to the growing costs, but also due to the rising VAT.

The number of published titles grows, but the number of copies falls.

VAT on books was being increased up to 19 percent in 2004, but in 2008 the growth stopped. VAT was then reduced to 10 percent, making Slovakia one of the advanced European countries that consider book production one of the permanent values.

In the Czech Republic, the originally lowered VAT on books increased from 5 percent in 1993 to 15 percent, introduced at the beginning of the year.

"I am really happy about the exhibition because if I do not live for 111 years, I will have spent most of my life as a Czechoslovak citizen," Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, 75, said at the opening ceremony.

"Slovakia is still my old homeland," Schwarzenberg added.

He said Czechoslovakia's division 20 years ago was like a divorce of the partners who at first suffered from complexes, but if the outcome of the divorce is good, they remain good friends.

Schwarzenberg said it was a pity that the knowledge of Slovak was falling among Czechs, especially among the young.

He said for all the good relations between the two countries, the division had harmed them.

"Both our nations have lost something of the global reach, becoming more parochial," he added.

Slovakia was chosen as the main guest of this year's Book World Prague on account of the 20th anniversary of Czechoslovakia's division, the centenary of the birth of Slovak writer Dominik Tatarka (1913-1989) and 1150 years since the arrival at Great Moravia of Saint Cyril and Cyril Methodius who laid the foundations of the language Czechs and Slovaks still use.

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