ASTANA – For the fourth consecutive year, KitapFest, organised by the Bauyrzhan Charity Foundation and Eurasian Franchise Association with support from the akimat, was held in Almaty on the square in front of the National Academy of Sciences.
The event, with the main goal to popularise reading, hosted a large book exchange, meetings and master classes with Kazakh writers, contests and events, a poetry reading and fair from Kazakhstan’s largest publishing houses and bookstores. Readers met not only with the authors of popular books, but also with famous Internet personalities.
As the organisers noted, Kazakhstan’s National State Book Chamber has registered only 235 books this year, a small number for the country. To help increase that figure, Bauyrzhan Foundation social projects coordinator Maira Alzhanova feels modern Kazakh writers need to develop marketing skills to promote their work.
“Bayan Yessentayeva’s book sales exceeded 20,000 copies, which is a breakthrough. This shows what people are interested in. This shows that what our writers present is not interesting for readers. We need to develop the market,” she said.
Venues like KitapFest allow readers to meet directly with writers, providing an opportunity to expand the audience of Kazakh literature.
“The main mission of the festival is to cultivate reading, and we are giving away 4,000 books free of charge. Many visitors who came were surprised at the amount of Kazakh literature that they did not know before. We have also conducted a mini-poll to find out what is interesting for Kazakh readers; for example, the book that people would have taken with them to a deserted island,” said the organisers.
KitapFest, held for the first time in August 2014, proved its status as the most interesting and large-scale book festival in the country, gathering more than 3,000 visitors of different ages and professions. The festival offered guests a range of emotions and surprises: a corridor of books, meetings with Kazakh writers, lectures and seminars, contests and gifts, and, of course, thousands of books.