Meeting Director of Rasa Publication in Conference of "Oral History of Book"

All Books on Contemporary History that We Published

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi

2017-08-01


 

According to Oral History Website of Iran, the 13th session of the second term of sessions of "Oral History of Book" was the second meeting of talking with Mohammad-Reza Najian Asl, Director of Rasa Publication. This meeting was held in the morning of Tuesday, July 18, 2017, helped by Nasrollah Haddadi, author and researcher, at Khaneh Ketab Institution's Saraye Ahle Ghlalam.

 

Adherence to publishing goals

Najian Asl said at the meeting, "There are some who look at publication as a business. Of course, for some people, it really makes good money, because they know to use which ways for selling books and attracting authors. Once in an interview with a magazine I was asked: you who publish marketing and management books, what do you do for your marketing? Do you try to contract with authors who have best-selling books? I answered: I did not ask any author in my life to give me his book to print. In fact, my goal of publishing was, firstly, a book we publish, should be useful for society. That's why I never thought of bestselling books. Sister of the author of "Hangover Dawn" was our neighbor. He came to me and said: "You did not print "Hangover Dawn" morning and so I asked other publication to print it, now print the second volume of this book, which is called" Night of Mirage". I told the neighbor: I know this book is very good selling, but I do not print it because I do not believe it.

I wanted to do something that others do not. For example, publishing all books of contemporary history was because of the fact that we felt our society needed to know its own past to not repeat mistakes of the past. In early days of the revolution, addressing about history really needed dare. I published a book from Mr. Ehsan Naraghi which was on Evin Prison. One day I was in Amir Kabir Publication where Ehsan Naraghi came there with a bandaged foot. He said, "I was in prison, I was rescued from execution, but I got into many problems. Now I want to write my memoirs, do you publish them? I asked: Do you want to be printed in Amir Kabir or in Rasa? Because when I went to Amir Kabir, I said that I would not stop my work in Rasa Publication, and I will be here for some time to help to solve the problems. An author named Abdol Khalil Hajati came to Amir Kabir and brought two books. He said: I want to print these. I asked Amir Kabir or Rasa? He said Rasa. I said our office is in Motahari Street and I am there in the afternoons. I asked Ehsan Naraghi the same question and he said: print it in Rasa. I told him: if you dare and write your memories, I also dare to publish them.

This was for about 1987 or 1988. The war had not been over yet, and engaging these issues was really dangerous. About a year later, I heard that he had published his memoirs in France. One of my friends in university publication that was interested in me said: This book was published and only publisher who can print it are you. I sent this book to Saeed Azeri for translation. We prepared it and took it to Guidance [Ministry], but they said it was not possible to publish this book. They asked me how I dared to bring this book to Guidance [Ministry]! I said to Khosrow Talebzadeh: in early days of the Revolution I was in intelligence part of IRGC and I fully understood the country's security issues. This book is in favor of Islamic Republic. If this book not to be published in Iran, they say that there is no freedom for the press in Iran. I want to print this book with a preface in order to neutralize its harmful effects in society, and of course, the good point is that if his claims in the book are wrong, we would footnote and answer them. Talebzadeh scheduled to speak with others and inform us the outcome. He spoke with Ahmad Masjed Jamei and after a short time they gave us its permission; without censoring any part of the book."

 

Things that others had not done

He continued "now is forty years of our activity. In these forty years, we have always followed this process, to do something that others have not done. One of the good books we printed was "The Correspondences between Martyr Rajaee and Banisadr". Mr. Sadegh Azizi, friend of martyr Rajaee and I, brought this book for us to publish it. The book had been compiled by Kiuomars Saberi Fumani (Golagha). I saw that it was an injustice to martyr [Muhammad Ali] Rajaee because he had been depicted as a fanatic and dogmatic person who had prevented works of [Abolhassan] Bani-Sadr. I published this book with interest because it erased an ambiguity point in society. After that I printed memoirs of martyr [Mahdi] Iraqi. Mr. Mohammad Turkaman had an interview, in several meetings, with martyr Iraqi in France. Martyr Iraqi courageously talked about Motalefeh, measures of that group and events that he witnessed. Martyr Iraqi had a strange character. I do not think that SAVAK cared for someone else to the extent that it watched for martyr Iraqi, because it was aware of influence of this person. When Mr. Mahmoud Moghaddasi, Masoud Dehshur and Hamid Reza Shirazi implemented his memory book and brought it for to me, I said I would publish this book if his son would confirm it. Amir Iraqi had an office in Vali Asr [Street]. We went there with these friends and asked him to let us print his father's memoir, he was happy and allowed. Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani also emphasized a lot that this book should be published. Two points in this book are very interesting. First, Iraqi says we went, ordered by Imam Khomeini (RA), to Tayyeb Haj-Rezaei and said that it is time that you support us and Imam and spread announcements of Imam and he also accepted. The second point was about [Hojatoleslam] Mohammad Taqi Vaez Falsafi whom we wanted him to support Imam too. The obvious point of this book was about Mozaffar Zolqadr. One day he had thrown a letter into the publication through under its door and said that we would fire this publication due to publishing this book, which, fortunately, it did not happen. They called one more time and said that we would kill you tonight that the same night I sent my family home to my father-in-law, and I, lonely, waited for them to come and kill me. At night about two o'clock, they rang our doorbell. I looked through the window to the alley and saw that a soldier was whistling and ringing all doorbells. Anyway, that was close and no bad accident was happened. Interestingly, it was the fortieth day ceremony of late Iraqi at Ark Mosque. We loaded about a thousand volumes of this book in a pickup truck and sent to the mosque. I asked friends to sell this book to anyone who came to the mosque at any price and discounts. Just a few volumes were sold."

The publisher said, "Book of "Nobody Dares Call It Conspiracy", was translated by Dr. Abdol Khalil Hajati. Because the book was against communism and the Soviet Union, nobody bought it for about one or two year. In our Iranian society, Tudeh Party has done many activities in field of our culture. Among activities that it has done is creation of bookshops and publishers. There are still themes of left and Tudeh thinking among some of our publishers and bookstores. In fact, such an atmosphere was dominated upon space of books and bookstores, so they did not buy this book for two years. After two years, when Mr. Gholami had discovered this book in street of Andisheh of Abbasabad [in Tehran], he came to our office and said, "I want five thousands volumes of this book. We said: we have two thousands volumes in stock now. He said: Give me the two thousands and then send me five thousands more. This person had provided in ways market of selling the book. We also prepared five thousand volumes and sent them for him. After that, the book was published for tenth printing. In copies of five, seven, ten thousands and... . "Do you want a boy or a girl?" Also had been translated by Dr. Hajati and he brought it to us. The book also had the same fate as the previous book. Dr. Hajati said he had translated this book just for helping families. When I read the book, I realized that it had a completely scientific discussion. We went to Dr. Darioush Daneshvar Farhood with Mr. Haddadi. He read the book and confirmed it as a scientific one, and even he gave us a series of photos that we put them at the end of the book. He also added an introduction to this book. Mr. Mohammad Tehrani, a very good designer, made cover design of the book. To design this work, he had traveled to Tehran's Sarcheshmeh and bought two boxes of apple in order to find two apples that had desired and intended appearance and to take a photo for design of cover. Qasem Mohammadi was one of the strongest distributors of that time who said, "Give me two thousand volumes of the five thousand copies which you had printed to distribute them." After three, four months we called him and asked: Why did you come no longer? He replied that nobody buys this book and he had sold about two hundred volumes from two thousand ones. I said return the books. After that, I published posters of this book and put the books in my car box. I went to all pharmacies of Tehran. I stuck the book poster and they let me to put the book there as an honesty with a great discount. This method led to publication of the book for twenty times."

 

About books of Gholamreza Nejati

Najian Asl continued: "When political prisoners are taken to court, a public defender to be employed for them. Court employs a lawyer for the defendant to defend him. It's actually a show. When engineer Bazargan was in jail, they had employed a public defender for him too. The lawyer must be an army officer. One of lawyers that they had appointed for Freedom Movement of Iran at that time was Colonel Gholamreza Nejati, who they placed him as public defender of Mr. Taleghani. Procedure of the task was that first lawyer went and had a one to two hour meeting with defendant. Sometimes, when these defenders understood defendant rightness, they self-sacrificed. Col. Nejati said: Mr. Taleghani told me that you can defend me in favor of the court, so you would elevate, but if you defend me you may fire and lose your position. Colonel Nejati said: I saw that defense of this person is really dangerous and I had to pay its cost too. I wanted to give me 24 hours to think about it. I walked night until morning and thought to myself. I squabbled with myself, but eventually I decided to defend Mr. Taleqani and what is true. He had defended Taleqani in a very good way in court and was fired from the army. From there, he decided to translate all uprisings that had taken place against the West and America in the world. He had about 37 books, a major part of them were about liberation movements against the West. Relationship of Rasa Publication with Colonel Nejati was through book of "Twenty Five Years of Iranian Political History". He worked hard for this book for several years to collect its documents and interviewed with different people. When we went to Ministry of Guidance for its permission, he was afraid, and before announcing opinion of guidance on his book, he said: "I have got ticket and I'm going to the United States, you take the book to Guidance, and whenever you get the result, inform me. Mr. Mahmoud Rezaei, who worked with us, took this book to Guidance and brought its permission two days later. We called Col. Nejati and said that the permission was taken. We published many books of him. About the last book, which was on Mossadegh's life, he was sick. He had collected All of Mossadegh's defenses and life in two volumes. I do not forget the last day that he came to the office for goodbye. It was time of election of 1997 (1376 SH), when he came to the office and said: "I have come to saying goodbye. He had leukemia. He said: "Now there is a room for election, if the books which I wrote and you printed to be effective in getting better this space for one percent, it's enough for me." His books have played an important role in social enlightenment, especially in our political history. Getting license for his last book lasted about six months. When was ill and I informed him about getting permission of his book he became happy. He pressed my hand which was in his hand."

 

 

About memoir of General Robert Huyser

He also said: "Majid Tafreshi came to Rasa and said that book of "Memoir of Huyser" was published in abroad. We provided the book. We knew that Huyser had had an uncanny role. For this reason, his memoir could be constructive to understand what process our revolution passed and what was role of United States. I gave this book to Mohammad Hossein Adeli and said him: I want to translate this book as soon as possible. He translated this book in 15 days. When we took it for getting its permission they had defined 108 cases to be censored. I'm not accustomed to delete any content since when I have published history books. Our omissions are handful and those ones that were very critical, we only dotted them. We have not removed as much as possible. I took the letter of [Ministry] of Guidance and went there. I said: I do not want to delete these ones and I want to publish this book with an introduction. They sent us before assessor of the book who was Hashem Aghajari. We went to his room and talked with him about one to two hours. He was a really enlightened man. We talked about 108 ones, one by one. I asked him to let publish the book completely and I explain about twenty to thirty of them in footnote. He accepted to be published without any omissions. We took this book for printing in the printing house of Mikhak and it printed the book. Because it did not have binding, we had to go to Meraj printing house for binding. When we went to that printing house, we found out that Ettelaat Newspaper was simultaneously printing the book. When the newspaper understood we were printing this book and we started it a little sooner, every day it announced that this book would be published soon, and all of these ads would be in interest of someone who would publish the book sooner. When we took this book for binding, we saw that book of Ettelaat [Newspaper] was also binding. Ettelaat had dared to print only third of the book and had removed two thirds of it. We asked Mr. Farahani, director of Meraj Printing House, to prepare our book sooner. He also accepted and our book came to market 48 hours earlier. The book was published in ten thousand copies and was sold in a short time."

 

A book which drove Jafar Shahri out from black list

The protagonist publisher continued: "We got acquainted with Mr. Jafar Shahri through Haddadi. [Haddadi] gave me a book titled "Part of Social History of Old Tehran". I was in Amir Kabir [Publication] at that time. He said that the book had been printed by Amir Kabir and would no longer be printed due to they gathered it and prevented its distribution. I got this book and saw it was a very interesting book. Mr. Haddadi suggested duplicate ten to twenty volumes of the book and go visit Mr. Urban. We copied several volumes of it and then sent it for binding. After that, we designed them with hardcover and inlayed it with gold. When Mr. Shahri saw the book, he became very happy. At one of the meetings with him, he said that he had written history of Tehran in detail in five thousand pages. He asked us to print it. I read some of the book and realized that the content is very hard to understand and required editing. On the other hand, he was very sensitive, as he did not allow us to replace even an "and" (in Persian "و") without permission. He said, "The publishers who know this book had queued for printing it, and even Mr. Elmi had brought a blank signed paper for publishing this book, but I want you to print it. We told him we could not afford it. He said, "It is not necessary to give me the royalty en masse, pay it me monthly." At first he said: fifteen thousand Tomans in a month. I said I couldn't give the amount and eventually ended up in seven thousand five hundred Tomans in a month. The contract was completely in his favor. According to the contract, we agreed to give him one hundred copies of the book and we should not change any word or letters without his permission. Typesetting of this book lasted about two years. Introduction of this book was written by Yaghoub Azhand. With this book, Jafar Shahri was omitted from black list of authors, because one of reasons for confiscation of Amir Kabir was publishing one of Jafar Shahri's books. Paper for Shari's book was troublesome for us. Those days we were received paper in a rationing way. This book was 4400 pages. He had told Guidance Ministry and they gave us 660 reams of paper. These papers were first in the warehouse. They came and said you should take them of the warehouse, otherwise it would be canceled. After that, we placed them at house of Mr. Shahri, but for some reason water penetrated in the warehouse and we finally had to take them to Arman printing press. It was in the printing house's storehouse for about two years. The director of the printing house wanted me to sell those papers and buy them again when Mr. Shari's book would prepare. While money of selling those papers was equivalent to amount of two to three apartment units, I did not agree to sell them."

Najian Asl said, "Seyyed Abbas Salehi brought us three books: first, "Tautee-ye Shah bar zedde Imam Khomeini (The Shah's Conspiracy against Khomeini)", the second, "Velayat-e Faqih, Hokoumate Salehan (righteous government)" and the third "Shahid-e Javid (The Eternal Martyr)". Shahid-e Javid was not new and had been published several times, but its fineness for the new edition was that he had had found a number of SAVAK documents after the revolution, which in these documents reason of arresting Mr. Hossein Ali Montazeri and Ayatollah Meshkini due to writing an introduction for the book was mentioned. In fact, one of their accusations was that they had written an introduction for the book. He brought these documents and told print the documents at the end of the book. We published the ninth to thirteenth edition."

 

About Rasa Books

Rasa Publication's Director added: "My approach was toward management books. Mr. Mahmoud Tolo, who was assistant of secretary of industry, had translated the book "What they still don't teach you at Harvard Business School". Elmi Publication had published the first edition of this book. Mr. Tolo, because of our friendship, told me, "It's a pity, and it's really an interesting book, but it was not well-published. Do you publish this book?" I read the book and typeset it. The work made me interested in management books. This book is now among our bestselling books. After that, we also published more books in this field. Dr. Abdolreza Rezaeinejad brought several books on management through Dr. Seyyed Jafar Hamidi. Some people have the idea that book is a commodity and, for example, book is not different from cheese puffs at all! It should be marketing like a commodity and be treated as a commodity, but I've always had a problem with this thinking. In addition to being a commodity, the book has a personality and identity that distinguishes it from other commodities. Book has Spirit. If there be such a view on book, it would be very influential.

In addition to publishing famous people, I published books of new comers such as students, who they never thought Rasa publish their book. I'm glad that about eight to ten publishers have come out of Rasa. We are always known as the publisher which its books are priced cheaply. I always think the consumer should be considered. We have not participated in any of the book exhibitions. Selling books at major exhibitions in provinces and cities leads to harm of the bookseller. In our city, Tabriz, dozens of booksellers have stopped their works due to holding these exhibitions. In one of international exhibitions we stuck a poster and wrote "we don't sell book here". This objection was due to the fact that they had given us a 12-meter booth, while we had 300 books that we could not arrange them there. When I called to follow the issue, they told me that other publishers had been recommended but not you! 80% of our exhibitions are show, and the government has engaged in the field to have an international exhibition every year and nobody dares to make it a pathologist. In fact, quantity is important not quality!"

"Book of memoir of North Korean leader," he said, in response to a question that if he has regretted about printing a book. At that time, we were in contact with this country, and I thought to myself that writing this book was in interest of the two countries. In fact, I did not have any knowledge of the Korean leader. We printed this book and sent it to the Korean embassy. They were very happy with publication of the book. The issue here was that we had printed, on the front page of a book, a color photograph of their leader, that there was a white, in size of a dot, on his coat. Their representative came and said change this photo and if you do not do it, they would execute me there. I regretted there for printing memoir of such person. The person who had translated the book was a trusted person who had brought it for us. I did not read the book because of trust to that person and published it. I regretted due to the action and pulped the books because the book had a lot of misprint."

Najian Asl said on future of paper publishing, "paper publishing was under influence of cyberspace and e-books for some time. This had a major impact in reducing copies and book reading, but we are orienting the book again and I'm optimist about future. If I come to the world once again, I would continue this way, especially in publishing activity."

He also commented on establishing the book garden: "The book garden must be really a book "garden". In fact, it should be a space to create interest in book. It should not just become a center for selling book, because it hurts bookstores."

The new session of "Oral History of Book" has been held in Khaneh Ketab Institution's Saraye Ahle Ghalam respectively:

The first meeting 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 Eslamieh Publication, and Seyyed Farid Ketabchi and Seyyed Mohammad Baqer Ketabchi, directors of Elmieh 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

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

The twelfth session on Sunday, July 16, attended by Mohammad-Reza Jafari, director of Nashrenow Publication

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.

The classmates who became campaigners and publishers



 
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