Ukraine Passed A New Law Directly Supporting Bookstores


June 28, 2024, 11:35am

There’s been a lot of global focus recently on what governments can and cannot do, what they should or should not provide. Some of that certainly comes with the multi-election territory this year—elections in the US, the UK, and France will all serve as (to put it mildly) significant referendums on whether or not governments can or even should help people—but it’s also one of the major ongoing issues facing humanity at large in the 21st Century.

So what a wonderful thing to see news out of Ukraine today that President Zelenskyy has signed a bill that provides subsidies for renting space to open bookstores and the introduction of book certificates (worth 908 hryvnia, or about $22) for 18-year-olds starting this year. The bill also allows for, after the end of martial law due to the ongoing war with Russia, one parent to receive a similar voucher after the birth of a child. Other countries around the world do support various book-voucher schemes (see: National Book Tokens in the UK) but most are private organizations as opposed to direct subsidies from the government.

Ukrainian MP Yevhenia Kravchuk, one of the sponsors of the bill, noted that “the share of people who read every day increased from 8% to 17% between 2020 and 2023.” Considering that that period includes the Russian invasion, I’m hard-pressed not to see this as a small light of hope in the face of dark times. Reading matters, bookstores matter, and it’s marvelous to see a government—any government, really—wholeheartedly embrace those opinions.



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