Books

The House of Books is being evicted from Singer’s house. What will happen to the most famous book in St. Petersburg?

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The legendary store on Nevsky Prospekt is moving out due to a conflict with the owner of the premises. What are the reasons and what will happen in this place now?

Photo: Alexander Demyanchuk / TASS

On the Nevsky closes Book House. Shelves in the windows in front of the Kazan Cathedral rapidly are emptythe remaining goods are sold at a 50 percent discount.

The book opened after the October Revolution, with the editorial offices of various magazines on top. Alexei Tolstoy, Samuel Marshak, and Daniel Harms often visited there. Shop worked even during the blockade, albeit intermittently. In the postwar period there was no pushing.

In 1998, Singer’s house was leased for 49 years to the St. Petersburg real estate agency, which was associated with banker Andrei Isayev. He also controlled the Baltic Bank. In 2004, the company began renovating the building. Then the tenant, CJSC “St. Petersburg House of Books”, owned by the city, temporarily moved. It was not possible to return two years later. The landlord sharply raised the cost of rent and soon opened a private bookstore here, which still existed.

Nine years ago, the co-owners of the Baltic Bank quarreled. The new owner of CJSC Singer demanded that the sublease agreements between its former representatives and the House of Books be declared invalid. Mikhail Ivanov, co-owner of the St. Petersburg book “Subscription Editions”, talks about the lawsuit. He is following this conflict:

Mikhail Ivanov co-owner of the St. Petersburg bookstore “Subscription Editions”

In Smolny they are trying to calm down. It was stated there that they plan to place a book belonging to the city government in the room. Appeared even the approximate opening date is May 14. Social networks and telegram channels reacted ambiguously to the initiative. The concept of the new space is being developed by a working group, which includes representatives of Smolny, several publishing houses, the Russian Book Union and the Writers’ Union. Here is what a journalist from St. Petersburg Sergei Kovalchenko says:

Sergey Kovalchenko journalist from St. Petersburg

I will share my personal impressions: in recent years, the House of Books on the Nevsky has been dominated by souvenirs. In the updated concept, the authorities promise to shift the emphasis towards literature itself. But without a “souvenir” still nowhere: books – a very low-margin product.

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