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Books and literature

In Slovenia literature is still the most prestigious and respected art form. The first writings in the Slovenian language date back to the turn of the first millennium CE., the so-called ‘Freising Manuscripts’ (Brižinski spomeniki), which are actually kept in the Bavarian State Archives in Munich.

Two writers could claim to be the founders of Slovenian literature or even all Slovenian culture. The first was Primož Trubar, a Protestant pastor, whose book entitled Katekizem (‘Catechism’), published in 1550 was the first book in Slovene, and laid the foundations of Slovenian literary language. The second was the poet France Prešeren, a relatively well-known figure of European Romanticism, whose poetry also played a part in drafting the first real national political programme, which helped form Slovenian national identity.

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A good decade ago, Slovenia held the European record for the number of books published per inhabitant and remains among the top European countries in this respect. According to data from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, 4,430 book titles were published in 2004: 3,686 first editions and 654 reprints. Seventy-four per cent of the titles were original works, the remainder were translated texts.

Compared to a decade ago, the entire production of books has increased by approximately 36 per cent. Around seven per cent of published books were subsidised, as were some eighty cultural and scientific magazines. Most published books – 928 – were fiction; 511 of these were by Slovenian authors. Among book translations, the prevalent type was classic literature, followed by Spanish, Czech, Slovak and Italian literature.

Such lively book production also demands that authors, publishers and book sellers are properly organised. Writers meet at the Slovene Writers’ Association, one of Slovenia’s most renowned cultural associations, thanks to its committed and constant intellectual work: for instance, it had a particularly strong impact on the democratisation of the country. Through the Slovenian branch of the international PEN Association, Slovenian authors join forces with their colleagues in the international arena in an effort to protect human rights, striving for world peace and demanding the freedom of the written word.

In Slovenia in 2003, apart from the National and University Library and the Central Technical Library, there were 55 higher education libraries, 137 specialised libraries and 61 general libraries, while data from 2002 records 648 school libraries at primary and secondary schools. Since the early 1990’s, library attendance has been constantly increasing, especially at general libraries.

In 2003, a total of 18.7 million books were borrowed, which is slightly more than nine books per inhabitant of Slovenia; in 1990, this figure was only four books per inhabitant. It should nevertheless be noted that one of the reasons for this increase is that books have become more expensive; due to the increasing difficulty of selling books, the prices of books have soared in comparison with most other products.


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