Rare book donations sought for auction to help Ukraine booksellers

<span>Photograph: Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Donations of rare books, artworks, manuscripts, photographs and ephemera are being sought for an auction aimed at raising funds for Ukrainian booksellers and publishers affected by the Russia-Ukraine war.

Authors are also being invited to donate signed first-edition copies of their books. The proceeds of the auction will go to Helping Ukrainian Books and Booksellers (Hubb), a group formed shortly after the war began, when thousands of publishing professionals suddenly found themselves out of work.

Libraries, editorial offices and publishing houses were hit, and sections of the industry were “severely impacted” by the war, “in part because much of the production of Ukrainian books happens in the east in and around Kharkiv, a city that was at that time under siege and being bombed daily,” Askold Melnyczuk, an American author and translator who set up Hubb, told the Guardian.

The auction is seeking donations “far and wide”, said Arthur Fournier, a rare bookseller helping organise the sale. “That should include collectors, booksellers, antiquarians, authors.”

Donations across “literature, poetry, history and science” are welcomed, said Avi Kovacevich, founder of Catalog Sale, a New York-based auction house that is facilitating the sale.

“Interesting items of ephemera with attractive graphic design” are also encouraged, said Fournier. This includes “vintage posters, magazines and pamphlets that might be directly relevant to resistance movements or protests” and items that have “an important historical or social justice resonance.”

Hubb’s proceeds will be distributed in Ukraine by the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association. So far, Hubb has raised more than $30,000 (£24,257), which has been allocated to booksellers, publishers and libraries in Ukraine.

A large portion came from donations made by customers at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, the bookshop visited by the late Ukrainian novelist Victoria Amelina when she lived in the city for a year. Amelina died in July from injuries sustained in a Russian missile attack on a restaurant in eastern Ukraine.

The auction will take place online in mid-November. “We want this sale to happen before the winter so that we can help colleagues make it through what is going to be a tough couple of months”, added Fournier. “This war has been going on for nearly two years and we know that winter is absolutely brutal for civilians.”

The call for submissions is open until 10 October. Those interested in contributing to the sale are asked to send images of up to 10 items to