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The bookstore chain Borders will from Wednesday stock Polish titles
at some flagship UK branches in the latest sign that the
lucrative "Polish pound" is putting pressure on retailers to change
Demand for Polish-language books has "gone through the roof since
the EU enlargement and the subsequent influx of Poles to UK,"
according to Jana Hejna, central and east European buyer at
specialist language booksellers Grant & Cutler.
Borders will sell a range of more than 100 Polish titles at stores
in London's Oxford Street, Southampton, and Birmingham, with plans
to roll out nationwide later in the year.
The move comes in response to the "changing demographic of UK
cities", according to Borders. A spokesman said it was acting on in-
store requests for Polish books, passed up from store managers.
Titles will include translations of popular best-sellers such as The
Da Vinci Code and The World According To Clarkson, as well as books
by Polish authors.
Other books, such as Your British Dream: How to Live in Great
Britain, are aimed specifically at migrants.
Borders non-fiction buyer Graham Eaves said: "We hope by introducing
Polish language titles we can help Poles settle into the community."
An increasing number of high street retailers and banks have
recently introduced products catering to the growing number of Poles
living in Britain.
Earlier this year the Centre for Economics and Business Research
estimated their spending power at more than £4bn.
Polish-language books have long been available from niche
booksellers in the capital.
Orbis Books of Brook Green in West London was founded in 1944 for UK-
based Polish armed forces, according to current owner Jerzy
Kulczycki, who bought the shop 35 years ago.
But Mr Kulczycki admitted he was "a little bit surprised" at
Borders' move, in light of the number of younger Poles regularly
bringing books over from Poland or using the internet.
Ms Hejna of Grant & Cutler added that it was hard to say whether
their sales volumes would be under threat. It would depend on how
wide a range of titles the chain stocked.
But she added: "Our advantage is that we are specialists."
I saw a statistic that 60% of people here read less than one book a year. Not sure how that relates to other countries - probably not that bad in comparison with some.
More alarmingly the country with the highest illiteracy rate in the EU (pre-2006) was Poland. The second highest was (no prizes for guessing) the UK.
... but the UK book market is superb and demand is strong, with more new titles coming onto the market than anywhere else.
Right now it's very strong - someting we should be proud of. Computers, allowing easier publishing and print-runs have had an amazing impact on this, as has the type of book on sale. Varsovian, have you read and Joe Alex?
I mean 'any' Joe Alex, not 'and'.
Sorry - you got me there.
Not bad but not great literature either. His real name was Słomiński, one of the literary family. He went to UK at the end of the war and wrote a few detective novels set in London. Polish people who like Agatha Christie often like his stuff. His perspective on England is quite interesting
Very easy Polish, but available at the moment on order only. Apparently the publisher is due to re-issue.
Ah, that's why I couldn't find him in a quick websearch
From the Independent.
Poland's immigrant army makes its mark on British bookshelves
Katarazyna Grochola may not yet be challenging J K Rowling in the best-seller lists but her name - and that of Jeremy Clarkson - were sufficient to signal the latest seismic shift in Britain's cultural landscape this week. On Wednesday morning a queue of impatient customers formed outside the Birmingham branch of the Borders bookshop waiting to get their hands on some hot merchandise - the first batch of Polish literature to hit the British high street.
Grochola, the author of a successful series of "chick lit" titles which has been likened to Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones books, was in strong demand as the doors opened to dozens of Polish customers.
So too was Swiat Wedlug Clarksona. Better known as the The World According to Clarkson, the illiberal wit and wisdom of the BBC's Top Gear presenter is much sought after in Poland. By yesterday, it was the store's bestselling Polish book.
Seeking the latest in Polish literature in one of Britain's major cities would have been a daunting task as little as three years ago, prior to Poland's entry into the European Union. But the decision by Borders to start selling Polish titles is evidence of the growing popularity of the culture of the country that gave the world Chopin and Joseph Conrad among the 600,000 Poles living in the UK and among native Britons.
From an open-air performance of Conrad's Heart of Darkness at London's Southbank Centre this month to the billing of two Polish bands at this year's Glastonbury Festival, it seems culture has joined food, banking and aviation as the latest sector of the economy to catch on to the power of the "Polish Pound", an increasingly important segment of the £4bn disposable income that immigrants to the UK are thought to have.
Borders, which started selling 100 titles at stores in Birmingham, Southampton, Dublin and London's Oxford Street, said yesterday that initial sales had been so encouraging that it was expanding the range to Glasgow. The stores are stocking a mixture of books by Polish writers and translations - from Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code to classics by Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. Alistair Spalding, a marketing executive at Borders, said: "As our Polish population has grown it has created a market and we have been very pleased with the initial response, so much so that we are adding another store to the trial.
"If it is successful, we will roll it out nationally."
The bid for a slice of Polish immigrants' disposable incomes follows similar moves by Britain's big retailers. Sainsbury's, Tesco and Asda have all added products from sauerkraut soup to chocolate-covered marshmallows while Heinz and Nestle have started selling products made by their Polish subsidiaries in the UK. Lloyds TSB earlier this year followed HSBC and Barclays by offering current accounts tailored to the needs of recent Polish immigrants while budget airlines such as easyJet and Wizz have seen demand on routes to and from Poland rocket.
Those in charge of promoting Polish culture in Britain said both the receptiveness of Britons to work from different countries and the size of the Polish diaspora made a growth in interest inevitable.
Later this month, the Kronos Quartet will play the premiere of the latest work by the Polish composer Henryk Gorecki, whose haunting Symphony Number Three sold one million copies in the 1990s, at the Barbican in London.
A mime version of the Heart of Darkness will be performed at the Southbank Centre as part of the 150th anniversary of Conrad's birth while year-long festival of Polish culture is being planned for 2009.
Pawel Potoroczyn, director of the Polish Cultural Institute in London, said: "It is proof that size matters. The influx of immigrants means that our British friends want know more about the culture of the people that have come to live among them.
"Demand for Polish cultural events has sky rocketed and often we find Poles invite their British friends or boyfriends and girlfriends to come along. There is a growing recognition of our culture to our mutual benefits."
Poland in the arts
While the Romantic strains of Fryderyck Chopin earn him the title of Poland's greatest composer, it is the work of Henryk Gorecki that has enjoyed more popularity of late.
His Symphony No 3, a mournful masterpiece that took the Katowice-born composer from an unknown to one of the world's best-selling classical artists, sold one million copies in the 1990s. Poland has a vibrant jazz scene and two Polish bands played at Glastonbury this year. One, The Poise Rite, is formed from Polish Tesco workers living in Kent.
Poles have long featured prominently in the fine arts. Jan Matejko and his fellow Historicist painters became renowned for their depiction of battles and political events in the 19th century.
Tadeusz Kantor, a well known theatre director, revolutionised set design.
Poland also has one of Europe's leading contemporary artists, Wilhelm Sasnal. His work has included a painting of a suicide bomber's kit.
Poland has one of the richest literary canons in Europe, with five Nobel prize winners. Joseph Conrad, born Teodor Jozef Korzeniowski, lived much of his adult life in Britain and abandoned his native tongue to write works from Heart of Darkness to Nostradamus in English. But he is still considered by many Poles to be one of the country's great talents.
But the best known Polish writer of recent years is a journalist. Ryszard Kapuscinski who died earlier this year, was revered for a career as a foreign correspondent. His best known book, The Emperor, deals with the fall of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Sellasie.
From Krzystof Kieslowski to Roman Polanski, Poland has a distinguished relationship with the silver screen. Kieslowski is revered for his art house cinema, including The Decalogue, a series of 10 films based on the 10 commandments, and the Three Colours trilogy.
He followed in the tradition of Andrzej Wajda, whose portrayal of social reality and the struggle for dignity against totalitarian regimes was rewarded with an honorary Oscar.
Roman Polanski, born in Paris but raised in Poland, made his first films in Polish and received an Oscar nomination for his first full-length feature. His experience of the Krakow Ghetto in the Second World War is a key influence on his work.
From the Guardian.
Bookshop chain Borders has started selling Polish titles at its flagship stores in London's Oxford Street, Southampton and Birmingham. The stock of more than 100 titles is expected to be introduced nationwide later this year.
But what is on offer to Britain's growing audience of Polish-speaking readers? The selection includes translations of worldwide bestsellers such as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. The World According to Clarkson is also available. Apart from titles aimed at Poles not able to read literature in English, the range includes popular, contemporary books for all age groups by homeland writers.
Katarzyna Grochola, known for her chick-flick books, a rare genre in Poland, is represented by the latest instalment in her Bridget Jones-style trilogy, A Nie Mowilam (I Told You So). One of the best-selling novels of recent years, Samotnosc w Sieci (Loneliness on the Internet) by Janusz L Wisniewski, which has been turned into a film, is likely to become a hit among Poles living in Britain. One of the most welcome choices will be the classic comic book Tytus, Romek i Atomek, about the adventures of a chimpanzee and two boys, which is worshipped by generations of Poles.
Readers now have a chance to buy Andrzej Stasiuk's Fado, a collection of essays about the leading author's travels to the undiscovered Europe. Stasiuk's writing, sometimes compared to Jack Kerouac's because of his stream-of-consciousness style, is one of the few challenging entries offered by Borders. Others include Olga Tokarczuk's Anna In w Grobowcach Swiata (Anna In In the Tombs of the World) and Paw Krolowej (The Queen's Peacock) by Dorota Maslowska. The latter is considered one of the most talented and promising young writers, whose innovative, slangy style has revived Polish literature.
Among the most interesting choices are Lux Perpetua and Bozy Bojownicy (Warriors of God) by Andrzej Sapkowski, a highly acclaimed fantasy writer best known for his tales about a monster-slaying mutant called The Witcher. These titles are the second and third parts of a trilogy. Sadly for anyone who has yet to discover this series, the first instalment, Narrenturm, is not available.
I looked at "Swiat wg. Clarkson" (in Eng. and Pol.) in Empik yesterday and decided it would only be good for people who can't find a seat in a crowded tram.
Or French pea-brains.
I like the guy, but after one page of his witty reflections on life and budget airlines and I started getting supremely bored.
I mean, even for the sake of improving my Polish I wouldn't stoop that far. By the way, that's saying something - as I'm currently reading Alan Titchmarsh in Polish and he really sucks. (Kocham Tatę - don't buy unless like me you want to read a Polish book without needing a dictionary)
I wonder if borders etc did a preorder for Harry Potter in Polish which will be available in stores at midnight tonight?
A colleague is going to queue up at midnight tonight to collect one in english tonight due to a huge amount of pressure from her daughters.