EKEBI goes into action

Things are moving at the National Book Center (EKEBI) under the new administration. A «manifesto» released yesterday explains the organization’s brief – and how it might be expanded if all stakeholders agree – and sets out the new program. EKEBI’s core tasks are to promote reading in Greece, Greek books abroad and to be an observatory of Greek books. It doesn’t write, publish, translate or sell books, but encourages others to do so. It is not the musician, as the manifesto explains, but the conductor. Realistic activities The new program is realistic and effective, says EKEBI. Promoting reading will rely on a «charm offensive» that will start with a massive advertising campaign, efforts to make books more readily available (at public transport stops, for instance), and getting children to read by organizing book events for them. EKEBI will facilitate meetings between writers and the public throughout Greece, especially in bookstores and libraries. It wants to establish an annual Book Day, and to cooperate with booksellers on special days dedicated, for example, to art books, poetry set to music, and children’s books. There will be an EKEBI stand at cultural events, such as the Kalamata Dance Festival, and, of course, at book fairs. At fairs where it is not possible to set up a stand, EKEBI will offer its services and expertise. Also on the agenda are tributes to foreign literature, a readers’ prize promoted via the mass media, and a series of measures to promote writers. The latter include a writers’ office, six-month scholarships for writers up to 40, first-novel presentations, meetings with the public, and joint subsidies with publishers for writers to travel abroad with their translated work. As for promoting Greek books abroad, the emphasis will go to exhibitions where Greece is the guest of honor, as in Madrid 2005, and to helping organize European stands at book fairs outside Europe. Getting the Scripta fair on its feet, building up a full database of the book world, and promoting Greek books abroad by inviting foreign book people here are other objectives. Ambitious? Yes, but realistic too, given the enthusiasm and capacity for hard work of director Catherine Velissaris and assuming the cooperation of publishers, booksellers and other players in the Greek book world.