LOS ANGELES—Arpi Publishing, a new, nonprofit publishing house, was launched on February 19 at the Chevy Chase Country Club in Glendale. Founded by Los Angeles artist and author Arpi Krikorian, the organization is dedicated to publishing original Armenian-language books for children and young adults.
“For as long as I remember, authors and artists seeking to create books in Armenian have had neither the institutional support system nor funding for their projects,” Krikorian said. “What this has meant, basically, is that a new work of literature has very little chance of seeing the light of day unless it’s backed by a sponsor or it’s self-published.”
Krikorian continued: “So it comes as no surprise that there has been a lack of contemporary Armenian books, dealing with contemporary topics, that would be available to kids in schools across the Diaspora, especially at the elementary and higher levels. The result is that the Armenian literature taught at schools today rarely reflects the modern life outside school walls.”
“It was in view of these issues that I decided to try to take a step toward a solution,” Krikorian said. “Last year, a long-cherished dream started to become reality as I was able to gather a group of like-minded individuals passionate about starting a publishing house.”
As Krikorian recalled, the initiative got underway in early 2021, as a board was formed, objectives were set, and work began on a website (arpipublishing.com). “With the founding of Arpi Publishing, the overarching goal was to establish a catalyst for change, namely a publishing house that could provide authors and book illustrators with the necessary funding and support to create original works of literature in Armenian, written for children and young adults,” Krikorian said.
Arpi Publishing’s board comprises of scholars, teachers, and writers. They include Dr. Talar Chahinian, lecturer with the Program for Armenian Studies at the University of California, Irvine; Dr. Myrna Douzjian, continuing lecturer in Armenian language and literature at the University of California, Berkeley; Dr. Hagop Gulludjian, holder of the Kachigian Lectureship in Armenian Language and Culture at UCLA; Norayr Daduryan, director and lead teacher at the Armenian Academy of Blair High School, in Pasadena, California; Arpi Krikorian; Armenian language and history teacher Peggy Jinbashian; and author and literary translator Ishkhan Jinbashian.
“Another key goal behind the establishment of the publishing house was to help empower the continued utilization and dissemination of Western Armenian as a language of literature, especially given the lack of new, original works written in the language for our youth,” said Dr. Myrna Douzjian.
Seed money for the establishment of Arpi Publishing, in the amount of $15,000, was provided by Mr. and Mrs. Brandon and Sonia Pierce. Subsequently the organization received a $20,000 donation from Mr. and Mrs. Kevon and Alexia Kevonian. In December of last year, Brandon and Sonia Pierce contributed to Arpi Publishing once more, this time with a surprise donation, also in the amount of $15,000. Both this contribution and the Kevonians’ were made to fund the publication of Arpi Publishing’s first books.
“Our first major donors, the Pierce and Kevonian families, are the reason Arpi Publishing exists. It is thanks to their heartwarming generosity and strong belief in the importance of our project that we were able to get it off the ground,” Krikorian said.
“Today, we’re looking for authors and illustrators eager to have their works published and made available to a young readership,” said Norayr Daduryan. “And we’re looking for original, imaginative stories that would make for great books. Toward this aim, we’ve made the story-submission process through our website very simple, for authors and book illustrators alike. Also, as a publishing house dedicated to literary excellence, we will have accomplished editors working alongside our authors,” he added.
“We’re aiming to publish as many as five books his year, and I’m thrilled to report that we’ve already signed three authors,” said Hagop Gulludjian. “To meet its publishing targets this year and in order to be able to fulfill its full potential in the long term, Arpi Publishing needs broad community support. Every tax-deductible donation, irrespective of size, goes toward the publication of a new book. And with each school and community organization acquiring copies of the published books, our shared vision of a dynamic and ever-evolving literature, written in Western Armenian, is certain to come one step closer to being the new norm.”