The Estonian written word is strongly linked to the preservation and evolution of the Estonian language. Literature in our native tongue is one of the pillars of our culture, which supports the continuation and development of other areas.
To make reading more popular, 2010 was declared as Reading Year in Estonia.
- Each year, approximately 4,000 books and booklets are published, among these 1,000 literary works.
- About 50 books by Estonian authors are translated into other languages every year.
- The number of books printed in a year is somewhere around 4-5 million.
Publishing in Estonia is mostly in private hands. According to data from 2011, there were more than 800 companies in Estonia, whose articles of association mentioned publishing as one of their fields of activity. Data from the Estonian National Library says that in 2013 the number of new books published was 3,887, with a total amount of copies at around 4.79 million. This included 3,030 books in Estonian language. Due to the smallness of the market and limited profitability, some significant books might never be published without state aid.
To support literature, funds are allocated both by the Ministry of Culture and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia. The Gambling Tax Council supports literary events and activities, but not printing. The state also aids the creator – the author – via library loan compensation, which is intermediated by the foundation SA Autorihüvitusfond (Author Compensation Fund).
To enrich the selection of books, the Ministry of Culture supports the publication of works that are significant to our national culture through the programme “Estonian Literature”. The same programme is used to aid the publication of Estonian languages dictionaries, prize-winning manuscripts, literary and cultural studies, general interest treatments of language, monographs, bibliographies, albums with cultural historical significance, and essays. The programme assists in promoting Estonian literature and in the internationalisation of the literary field.
Activity support from the state budget is given to the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, the Estonian Literature Information Centre, SA Kultuurileht and SA Autorihüvitusfond.
Estonian publishing houses can apply for grants from the European Union cultural programme:
- to translate foreign literature into Estonian;
- to use guesthouses for writers and translators;
- to develop international cooperation between writers’ unions.
Within the framework of international cultural cooperation it has been possible to support the stay of Estonian writers in foreign countries and of foreign authors and translators in Estonia. Agreements offer possibilities to mutually translate fiction.
The Ministry of Culture gives out the Marie Under grant to enhance one student’s studies and research on Estonian literature and to support his or her self-development.
Publishing is a field of business under private law and is governed by laws that generally apply to Estonian businesses and economic activities.
- Compulsory Copy Act;
- Copyright Act;
- Value Added Tax Act;
- Act to Regulate Dissemination of Works which Contain Pornography or Promote Violence or Cruelty;
- Regulation by the Government of the Republic on the conditions and procedure to pay a fee to an author for the loaning of his work from public libraries.
Eesti Kirjanike Liit (Estonian Writers’ Union) – a creative union of writers, which represents the interests of its members in public and organises literary festivals (HeadRead, Prima Vista) as well as other events that promote literature and reading (e.g., literary Wednesdays in the Union’s building, authors’ tours of Estonian libraries and schools). The Union receives support from the state pursuant to the Artistic Associations Act.
Eesti Kirjanduse Teabekeskus (Estonian Literature Information Centre) – intermediates Estonian authors and their works to foreign countries, supports and educates translators, manages an English-language database on Estonian writers, their literary works, translators and translations of Estonian literature. Its activity is supported by the Ministry of Culture.
Eesti Kirjastuste Liit (Estonian Publishers’ Association) – organises Estonian exhibits at international book fairs, holds the Baltic Book Fair in Tallinn every three years, and Tallinn Book Fair every year.
Eesti Lastekirjanduse Keskus (Estonian Children’s Literature Centre) – central professional and information institution on children’s literature, which collects, preserves and intermediates children’s and youth literature as a part of Estonian cultural heritage. Its activity is supported by the Ministry of Culture.
SA Kultuurileht – issues the following cultural journals: Akadeemia, Diplomaatia, Haridus, Keel ja Kirjandus, Kunst.ee, Looming, Loomingu Raamatukogu, Muusika, Sirp, Teater.Muusika.Kino, Täheke, Vikerkaar and Õpetajate Leht. Its activity is supported by the Ministry of Culture.
SA Autorihüvitusfond – pays authors and holders of copyright for the loaning of works of literature from public libraries and for their reprographic reproduction.
Phone +372 628 2223