2014 saw Romania present again at the London Book Fair, under the motto “Toate-s vechi și nouă toate” (All is old and new is all). This year’s edition also came though with the official launch of a Romanian section at the European Bookshop, apart from the usual big names on the exceptional guest list, the curious public including those interested in the Romanian culture and various other events introduced to the British capital.
The launch took place on the 10th of April and had Professor Nicolae Manolescu, the president of Romanian Writers Union, as a special guest. The official opening was made in the presence of HE Dr Ion Jinga, the Romanian Ambassador to the Court of St James’s, Dorian Branea, the Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in London, and Frank Preiss, Managing Director of European Schoolbooks Ltd.
“The event is a first of its kind, since it is new for a Romanian language section to be
hosted by a foreign bookshop, nevertheless organized and supported by a Romanian cultural public institution. I hope this initiative will also be pursued in other capitals of the world, as we have large communities everywhere. Of course, this project is not only for and about Romanians. When it comes to London, it is also dedicated to our British friends, to those who are interested in finding more about Romania by reading and learning the Romanian language. It is important for the Romanian community in Great Britain because it offers an identity anchor for the adults, but especially for their children too. I believe that Romanians born in Great Britain have the right, and this right cannot be denied, to learn about their origins and cultural roots. It is about the sense of belonging“, stated the Romanian Ambassador, HE Dr Ion Jinga, during his speech at the launch.
How did this partnership between the Romanian Cultural Institute in London and the European Bookshop come to life?
Dorian Branea, Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in London:
“The Romanian section is the making, the materialization of a strategic direction of the Romanian Cultural Institute, direction made public in 2013, namely to facilitate the access of the Romanian communities abroad (first of all) to Romanian books, that either form part of collections in large libraries or in bookshops. Of course, the ultimate purpose of this initiative is to contribute in conserving the Romanian identity.
It doesn’t mean that this corpus of books is not open to the English readers though, especially since it includes dictionaries, Romanian language manuals and other tools for studying the Romanian language.
The Romanian section of the European bookshop is the first initiative of this kind in the world. Romanian books can be bought in Great Britain from different websites or various bookshops, but we cannot talk about those as if they are forming part of a Romanian section. I believe a similar project only exists in Brussels, but entirely on private funds.
Since the project is one of a kind, it took us a long time to set up the format of our collaboration, to negotiate the attributions of the partners and to find the correct legal framework for the contracts. It wasn’t easy to find a strong partner, with a good exposure and interested in offering us a suitable outlet. It was clear from the beginning though, that the European Bookshop nearby Piccadilly Circus, located in the heart of London and part of an old and active European books distribution company, is the ideal partner.
Happily, we managed to make them interested in our project, but this was only after several complex discussions during which we had to present our arguments and prove their validity. Therefore it was a long negotiation and I believe that in this process, each party convinced itself of the other’s professionalism. In time, our relationship became more and more based on trust and we learned several things from each other.
As a result, we started off with 100 books (classics, children’s books, latest best-sellers, dictionaries, manuals) and reached double the amount of titles, that not
only are made available in London, but everywhere, by accessing the
Basically, the more this system grows, the more the UK readers, be they
Romanian or British, will be able to buy any Romanian book at a price close
to the one paid in Romania. This is our target.”