For 22-year-old journalist, Marine Khachatryan, February 19 is one of the most anticipated and loveliest days of the year, since it gives her the chance to present books to those people, who really value them. In Armenia, February 19 is celebrated as a book giving day.
The initiator of the book-giving tradition was the Writers Union of Armenia. They especially chose the 19th of February as it is connected with the birth of well-known Armenian writer, Hovhannes Tumanyan.
Though there were many attempts to stimulate publishing books and business demand for them, there still are only around 4-5 large book-stores (Noyan Tapan, Bookinist, Bureaucrat, Hay Girq and the shop of Zangak publishing house) and some small kiosks. On average, the volume of one book publishing is around 400-500 examples.
Vahram Martirosyan, a well-known writer and a winner of the ‘Yerevan Bestseller’ special project, says ‘It’s a courageous act to buy or print a book nowadays’. He got his prize for the novel, titled ‘Love in Moscow’. Martirosyan got his prize the next day of the book presentation. He is also one of those few writers whose novel, the ‘Landslide’ had 1100 copies published, and 330 sold within the first three months.
The writer thinks it’s a wonderful tradition to have a book presenting day. "It solves one problem. In our country, our schools, and our universities, reading is like an obligation. For example, if the students of the Philology department start really reading, the book consumption would triple. However, since reading is not authentic, and students more or less read what they are assigned, nothing else interests them. The same thing is about schools. But this book presenting day is something that people celebrate themselves. It’s doesn’t lack authenticity. People present what they like, and no one compels them to", says Martirosyan.
Antares publishing has played a large role in the sphere, by publishing Armenian, foreign, as well as child literature. To celebrate the newly formed tradition of publishing, it is already the 4th year that an event is organized via Facebook. They post the books they published on their official page and title as ‘Present Armenian Books’ and ‘Present World Literature’. A Facebook user shares a book which he or she wants to be presented and collects ‘likes’. The top 50 will get the books they want, and those who are not within the top 50, get highly discounted prices.
The representatives of the biggest bookstores of Yerevan state that the newly forming book presenting tradition has brought some activeness into the sphere.
Before the ‘holiday,’ students and teachers are the main customers of the bookstores. It’s already been several years, that we celebrate the day of book presenting, and year after year, rising interest is noticed among the customers. ‘ Says Hayk Mkrtchyan, a worker of Noyan Tapan bookstore, the head of books department. According to Hayk, the variety of the books has changed significantly. If 15 years ago there was only limited literature in Armenian, or there were only the ones printed during USSR, nowadays the number of authors, translators, as well as the volume of children’s literature, and the quality have gone up with the numbers.
Bureaucrat bookstore is also one of the biggest one in Yerevan. It was opened in 2006. The aim of the founder was to create a new level of culture.
The bookstore collaborates with publishers that internationally keep a quality level.
The bookstore works with German Tashen, British Feden and other famous publishing houses.
The bookstore imports books, which stand out both due to the design and the quality of publishing. One can find books of a wide range of spheres here.
‘One can draw parallels with the tradition of presenting books, and other holidays. Such activeness can be seen during the International children’s day, on September 1 and before the New Year', says Hripsime Arakelyan, the head of the sales department of Bookinst bookstore.
In front of Khnko Aper library, a bronze statue of a book reader was erected in 2013 for Yerevan taking the title of a “International capital of Books’.