12th Session of "Oral History of Book"

Director of Nashrenow Publication Told About History of Amir Kabir Publication

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


According to Oral History Website of Iran, the 12th session of "Oral History Book" series, was held by Nasrollah Hadadi, administrator and expert of the session and was attended by Mohammadreza Jafari, director of Nashrenow Publication in Khaneh Ketab Institution's Saraye Ahle Ghalam in the morning of Sunday July 16, 2017.


I was busy and engaged with books among shelves

Jafari said about his life in the meeting: "I was born on Friday, March 18, 1949 in Khorasani-ha Alley at Naser Khosrow [Street]. I am the third child of my family. I have two older and two younger sisters. Before going to school, we rented a house in area of "Hayat Shahi" ​​at Naser Khosrow. In basement of this house, bookshelves had been arranged, and I was played among the shelves. When I got a little older, my dad took me to his store in Naser Khosrow. All the days I roamed among books. I paged them, saw their pictures and tried to keep their names in my mind. However, I knew a lot of things when I started a first-grade student. We had moved Jamshidabad (North Jamalzadeh). I was about six years old when my dad sent me and my sisters to Madrese Faransaviha (French school). Name of the school was "Maryam". In the school it was very strange and scary for me sisters dresses. I did not want to go to that kindergarten at all and I always cried for going to the school, so that a school named "Mehran" was opened in front of our house at Forsat Street. I spent the first six grades in that school, after that I insisted to go Alborz or Hadaf high school with my classmates, but my dad consulted Parviz Shahriari and sent me to Andisheh High School in Abbasabad Street. There was like a mandatory residence for me, because neither of my classmates was there. The year that we should choose our major I consulted with Abdollah Tavakol and Mehdi Azar Yazdi, and I said that I am interested in literature;. What do I do? I do not understand mathematics. They replied: "In order to have two paths, choose natural field so that you could go literary at any time you would want." So I chose natural field and got my diploma in 1967."

"My mother was relative of Elmi (Elmi-e Ketabforoush), that some of whom competed with my father, and it was very difficult for my mother," he added. Once they imitated Amir Kabir [Publication]'s logo, a big debate and a great deal was taken place.

About 1956 when training books were sold, it was "Barre-koshoon"[1] for booksellers. I remember that in those days my mother and my sisters always went to Naser Khosrow's shop and helped them to sell books. In fact my mother was cashier."


Establishing company of textbooks

Jafari said, "Amir Kabir Institution was the most leading publication before 1963. Ali Akbar Elmi and Mr. Eslami had established a company, but because they just wanted to print books in their printing-houses, they could not publish the [textbooks] on time and this caused a chaos. It led martial law and caused turmoil in front of bookshops. It was about winter that they were able to bring the books, so Ministry of Education dissolved its contracts. My father and Mr. Mohammad Ketabchi (Tabe-e Ketab Publication) and Javad Eqbal speak with Dr. Khanlari, current Minister of Culture, to entrust them the task. This led to creation of "Textbooks Company", and those gentlemen also asked my father to run the institution himself. It was really time-consuming to manage the task, as my father worked at night until around 2:00 a.m. and he did not come home even nights from Khordad (SH) in order to send the books on time. These works caused my father neglect Amir Kabir's [Publication], and on the other hand, I was just 15 years old in 1963 and I could not do anything to help my father and our publication. In this way, Amir Kabir began to weaken. My dad could not even keep dear Mehdi Azar Yazdi in his institution, and he left there. This situation was continued until 1970 or 1971, when I came to undertake works. I gathered Authors and translators who were dispersed and they started to work. Until 1976, the company of textbooks was not able to continue to work due to the struggle against profiteering that Shah Regime had created; this led my father to return Amir Kabir. Perhaps if this did not happen, my father didn't return Amir Kabir, but his friends and I always encouraged him to return."

In continuance of 12th session of "Oral History of Book" meetings, Jafari said: "One of the charges that they accused my father before the revolution was that in those days Middle school textbooks were printed in four colors. They said that we should not account black color and actually we would have to calculate black color with tariff of black print and they considered it an abuse. Second, they said that you had imported paper from the outside and brought it to market without customs duties and sold it. In 1974 my father went to the Customs and inquired in custom and Prime Minister in order to prove that the company had not used such an exemption; they also replied that there had not been such exemption."

He continued, "In shop of Mr. Ebrahim Ramezani they found book of "23 Years" and he got involved with SAVAK officer. They captured him and imprisoned for about a year. Even when Mr. Ramezani's shop was confiscated, my dad told him that he could come and work in our store. My father always used the promissory note, and Mr. Ramezani used my father's promissory note and credibility to solve his problems. Mr. Ramezani, Nasrollah Sabouhi and Javad Eqbal are the ones who my father signed for them formal promissory note. Sometimes they couldn't pay these promissory notes, and my father, in order not to hurt his credibility, provided, from wherever he could, cash of the promissory note and paid them. But my father did never committed suicide due to financial pressure and this rumor is not true. He built a school in Hashtgerd called Mirza Taghikhan Amir Kabir that head of Guidance of the area changed its name. They told me and on the one hand people prosecuted and finally returned to the previous name."



Jafari spoke of translation of a book and said: "The Dante's Divine Comedy is about 1,400 pages. Shojaeddin Shafa undertook translation of this book. He went Yaylak in the summer, and for this reason my father was forced to put each eight pages in a form and took it from Naser Khosrow to Abali and go back one or two days later to get it. Given volume of Divine Comedy, this was a very time consuming task."


My first book

The director of Nashrenow Publication continued: "When I finished sixth grade, once I sat with Mr. Azar Yazdi above Shah Abad store. He told me because you know English, start translation. I also accepted. He told me to go to Danesh bookstore before Mr. Noorollah Iranparast and find a suitable book." I went and it was natural to look for a simple book. I saw book of "The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids". This book had been won awards and a Swiss painter had drawn its paintings. I bought the book with several other books and brought them to Mr. Azar Yazdi, and he said that the same book of "The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids" is suitable. Finally I translated the book and then typed it and sent it for assembly. After that, Mr. Azar Yazdi and Ebrahim Younesi read it and made corrections on it. This book became my first book. This happened around 1963 and caused next year to begin translating Golden Book collection. My father was supposed to print them. Even my father gave me 50 Tomans for printing each book as rightful. I was the only one in my high school with my hand in my pocket."


Organizing the publication

Jafari added: "My father decided to make pocketbooks in a number of different fields, because pocketbooks had been welcome much. We talked with Mr. Tina and Abdollah Tavakol to make foreign novels in a pocket format and they created "Parastou" collection. We also talked to Mr. Parviz Shahriari to make scientific books in this format and this caused Mr. Shahriari make "Simorgh" collection. We put "Simorgh" collection in Plasco shop and Parastou in office of Sepahsalar Garden, which I used to be in the garden, because literary translators, such as Mr. Ebrahim Younesi and Kaveh Dehgan, came and held a meeting and criticize work of others. I was also present at all of these meetings, which caused my progress."

The director of Nashrenow Publication continued, "When I entered the job, my father was engaging textbooks. The situation was not messy, but it was not ok too. The first thing I did was this: I evaluated books that were contacted and under printing. They were about 110 volumes. Those days I was about 18 years old, but I saw this talent in my own in order to know which books should be printed. I asked my father to allow these books not to be printed. My father said that some money was spent for them and I replied that let's do new works in order to empowerment the institution, if we continue publishing those books, we would spend both more money and hindered the institution from progress. Fortunately my father agreed and a new blood was flown in Amir Kabir Publication. I did talking and prepared contracts, and my father signed them.

I remember that there was no bookstore to pay money when they wanted to create a cooperative union for publishers. My father gave 1000000 Rials to help establishing it. Indeed, while he never stepped down to become a candidate for the union, he always worked to help and keep this popular institution."

Jafari said: "During the time that father was not, I had good companions, including Seyed Jalal Fahim Hashemi, who later set up Ruzbahan Publication. He was mostly in field of printing and production, and did not contacted authors and translators. Since Ministry of Culture and Arts audited, he also carried out audits affairs. I invited Mr. Parviz Asadizadeh and he came to the institution. I wanted him to cooperate with us, and for this reason some writers such as Mr. Baha o'ddin Khorramshahi and Mr. Kamran Fani joined the institution. Then I spoke with Gholam Hossein Sa'edi and asked him what he expected from a publication. He replied that a publication must have a journal; I accepted it and entrusted him responsibility of publishing a journal. Our attempt was going ahead gradually until my father came. We came out about 200 to 250 books in 1975, in fact, almost every day we published one volume of book. Another of my companions was Amir Hooshang Norouzi, Sepehr Publication Director. After 1976, when my father left the textbooks company, our activity was culminated. In those years, we published 120 books with handwriting compose throughout a year. In 1979, I numbered as head of production, and I found out that we had printed 480 books, about 120 ones for the first printing and 360 one as reprints."

Director of Nashrenow Publication said: "My father started publishing from 1950. From 1950 to 1979, we published about 2050 books. There were rumors about selling or printing books like "Asrar-e Magoo" in Amir Kabir Publication, but these rumors are not true. It was possible for that our vendors to sell this book without our knowledge, as without our knowledge they sold books more expensive and even mistreated people, and all of these were recorded in name of us, but we did not know and, on the other hand, could not control them. We had general information book, which was published in 1979 in 500,000 copies, there were no reason to print "Asrar-e Magoo" with 1,000 copies. Book of general information had provided content of textbooks as Q & A. Many people opposed this, but I agreed. I published them with my nickname, like Hezar Ostad, M.Rad, M. Behdad, and ... These public information books were sold in high copies. History of sciences was the first important book that my father had published, and for this reason he was very interested in it. He also liked Constitutional history. On the other hand, some of his friends encouraged him to write his memoir."


From prosecution to Nashrenow Publication

He said about prosecution story of his father and imprisoning him, "They were newly workers in the institution and each of them had a political affiliation and they thought they were left." On the other hand, Mr. Esmail Raeen had begun his hostile. He had found opponents of my father like Mr. Abdol Hossein Khorrami and prosecuted against him. On the one hand, pertinacity of my father, and consulting with Mr. Ali Mohammadi, who said: "You are innocent and you have done nothing, then you have to stand", On the other hand, caused protests against my father. At that time, I was in production part and they did not do anything with me. These events occurred in 1980 and gradually were blazed and prosecuted and framed. In fact, if there was no my father's pertinacity, he could calmed down some of them through talking. Man must observe principles of capitalism. When you are a capitalist, you cannot fight with everyone and some people should be silenced in different ways. If I were my father I would do this surely. When my father was in jail and we went to visit him, he insisted that we liberate him as soon as possible because prison environment was not compatible with his spirit. My father was in prison with Mr. Baqer Aqeli and Mohsen Forooghi in a cell. These events were occurred in May 1980. It took three, four months that my father came out of the prison and they said court sentenced to two thirds. After that, we brought an expert to value the property. Then they realized that if they took two thirds of the property, they would have to give us a significant share of the institution, furthermore that peace pact was executed. My father had said that take whatever you want, but give me Amir Kabir's logo, because he thought he could enlarge it again and establish. He was released from prison in 1980 and I left Amir Kabir in 1981. I consulted with my dad and I said that my cousins ​​(Abbas, Kazem, Ali and Kamal Elmi-e Ketabforoush) said initiate Nashrenow Publication, my father accepted it too. The first book which I published in Nashrenow was Ahmed Mahmoud's "burnt earth", which was sold ten thousand copies in a day."

The first meeting of the new sessions of "Oral History of Book" was held on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 attended by Haj Beitollah Radkhah (Mashmachi), Director of Tehran-Tabriz Publications, the second meeting on Wednesday, April 19 attended by Jamshid Esmaeilian, Director of Partov Publication, the third meeting on Wednesday, April 26 with presence of Abolqasem Ashraf Ol-Ketabi, Director of Ashrafi Publication, the fourth meeting on Wednesday, May 17, attended by Hojatoleslam Buyuk Chitchian, Director of Mortazavi Publication, the fifth meeting on Tuesday, May 23 attended by Seyyed Jalal Ketabchi, Director of Elmieh Eslamieh Publication, and Seyyed Farid Ketabchi and Seyyed Mohammad Baqer Ketabchi, directors of Eslamieh Publication, the Sixth Meeting on Tuesday, May 30, again attended by Seyyed Jalal Ketabchi, director of Eslamieh Publication, Seyyed Mojtaba Ketabchi, Seyyed Farid Ketabchi and Seyyed Mohammad Baqer Ketabchi, Managers of Elmieh Eslamieh Publication, the Seventh Meeting on Tuesday, June 06, with presence of Morteza Akhundi, director of Darolkotob Al-Eslamieh Publication, the eighth meeting on Tuesday, June 13, re-attended by Morteza Akhundi, director of DarolKotob Al-Eslamieh Publication at Khane Ketab Institution's Saraye Ahle Ghlalam, the ninth session on Tuesday, June 20, attended by Mahdieh Mostaghni Yazdi, concessionaire of Karnameh Publication, Makan and Roozbeh Zahraee, offspring of late Mohammad Zahraee, the dead director of Karnmeh Publication, the tenth session on Wednesday, June 28, re-attended by Mahdieh Mostaghni Yazdi, concessionaire of Karnameh Publication, and Roozbeh Zahraee, offspring of late Mohammad Zahraee, the dead director of Karnmeh Publication, the eleventh meeting on Tuesday, July 11, attended by Mohammadreza Najian Asl, director of Rasa Publication in Saraye Ahle Ghalam of Khaneh Ketab Institution.

As well as, the first session of series of "Oral History of Book" was held from second half of 1393 (SH) to summer of 1394 (SH) by Nasrollah Haddadi in Khaneh Ketab's Saraye Ahle Ghlalam. The results of these meetings were published in a book titled "Oral History of Book" in 560 pages by Khaneh Ketab Institution.


[1] It means situation of financial abuses and a good situation for businessmen.

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