Aleksandr Smirdin

Smirdin, Aleksandr Filippovich

 

Born Jan. 21 (Feb. 1), 1795, in Moscow; died Sept. 16 (28), 1857, in St. Petersburg. Russian publisher and bookseller.

Smirdin worked in bookstores from the age of 13, and in 1817 became a salesclerk for V. A. Plavil’shchikov. Plavil’shchikov willed his bookstore, personal library, and printing house to Smirdin, who inherited them in 1825, after Plavil’shchikov’s death. Smirdin expanded his predecessor’s book trade and went into publishing. He published the works of A. S. Pushkin, N. V. Gogol, V. A. Zhukovskii, P. A. Viazemskii, and other contemporary writers, as well as new editions of the works of M. V. Lo-monosov and G. R. Derzhavin and three collections entitled One Hundred Russian Authors (1839–45).

Smirdin was the first in the history of Russian publishing to introduce regular payment to writers according to the number of author’s sheets; famous writers were paid enormous fees. He published books in large printings and sold them at moderate prices, thus helping to place the work of authors on a professional basis and to popularize works of Russian literature. In the history of Russian literature, the 1830’s came to be called the Smirdin period.

Smirdin’s personal library was an extensive collection of Russian literary works. In 1828, Smirdin published the systematized List of Russian Books for Reading, From the Library of A. Smirdin, which contained about 10,000 titles and was a direct continuation of V. S. Sopikov’s Attempt at a Russian Bibliography. Smirdin’s bookstore and library served as a kind of club for St. Petersburg writers. When both were moved to new premises on Nevsky Prospect, these writers presented Smirdin with works they had written, which he published as an anthology, Housewarming (two books, 1833 and 1834).

From 1834 to 1848, Smirdin published the journal Biblioteka dlia chteniia (Library for Reading). In 1846 he undertook the mass publication of The Complete Collection of the Works of Russian Authors. However, he soon became bankrupt and left publishing.

REFERENCES

Sbornik literaturnykh statei, posviashchennykh russkimi pisateliami pamiati pokoinogo knigoprodavtsa-izdatelia Aleksandra Filippovicha Smirdina, vol. 1. St. Petersburg, 1858.
Smirnov-Sokol’skii, N. P. Knizhnaia lavka A. F. Smirdina. Moscow, 1957.