четверг, 8 октября 2009 г.


A favorite publication of many Russians, the tear-off calendar began to be published in the beginning of the 19th century. Its popularity is due to the fact that it comprised interesting information on everything. It emerged thanks to a talented Russian entrepreneur and book publisher, Ivan Sytin.

Ivan Sytin was called a person of rare gifts. He came from a peasant family, and his only legacy was his father's blessing. At the age of 14 he came to Moscow to make a success of his life. Sytin began with joining the book shop of merchant Sharapov. “I was tall and sturdy. I could do any kind of work,” said Sytin later. “My duties were to clean my boss's shoes, lay the table for shop-assistants, bring food for them; in the morning I had to bring water and firewood to the house, buy provisions at the market. I did everything honestly, neatly and on time”.

Soon the boss came to appreciate the efforts of the bright and zealous teenager, and appointed him his own valet. He fostered the love for reading in him. At first Sytin read religious books, then the boss began to give him rare editions. For Sharapov book trade was an accidental undertaking, and so he knew little about it, relying mostly on his assistants.

As a result of ten years of assiduous work Sytin acquired extensive experience and earned some money. With the help of his master he opened a small lithographic business, which paved the way for an enormous book and magazine publishing enterprise. When he worked at Sharapov's shop he listened to tradesmen's stories and came to the conclusion that ordinary people needed good books whose value was accessible to them. That is why he began his undertaking with printing books by the famous Russian novelists Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, Alexander Pushkin and others. Inexpensive and well published, his books were in great demand. In addition Sytin began to print the “Popular Calendar”, a kind of handy encyclopedia that found its way to virtually every Russian family. By printing inexpensive but necessary edition he defeated his competitors and soon became the boss of Russia's book publication. For Sytin commerce was a means, not a goal. However, as an entrepreneur he had to abide by the laws of the book market with its free prices and competition. To compensate for the publication of inexpensive books Sytin printed costly editions, such as encyclopedias in luxury book covers meant for well-to-do people.

The success of Sytin's enterprise was based not only on his business grasp and willingness to take the risks, but also on his use of advanced printing equipment and ability to organize an excellent system of marketing.

His dream was to build near Moscow a publishing town equipped with the latest machinery, with excellent houses for the workers, with schools, hospitals and theaters, all in the name of books.

However that dream was not to come true. After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution his publishing house was nationalized and Sytin lost his business. His attempts to engage in publishing books under the Soviet government ended in failure. The last years of his life he in poverty and obscurity. Sytin died in 1934. However history has preserved the memory of the man who did so much to promote enlightenment in Russia.

Source:The Voice of Russia

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