The 20th meeting of “Oral History of Book” hosted by Head of Zavvar Publications

Hardships of continuing father’s career

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by: M. B. Khoshnevisan


According to the website of Iranian Oral History, the 20th meeting out of the second round of the meetings “Oral History of Book” organized by Nasrollah Haddadi, author and researcher was held on Monday morning 28th of August 2017 in the Institute for Book House. The meeting was attended by Ali Zavvar, the Head of Zavvar Publications.


My mother liked a lot the publications remains open

He said, “I was born on 1st of January 1955 in Iran Street in Ain al-Dowleh District. I studied the elementary school period in “Ayandeh Rowshan” School and the high school period in “Khawrazmi” High School and got a diploma in mathematics major in 1978. I read Jack London and police books during my studying in school. I left for America in July 1978 when the revolution in Iran was at its peak and studied there in maintenance and overhaul of the body and jet engines of airplanes. After finishing my education, I was employed in an American company. We are three brothers. Our names in the ID card are Hasan, Mohammad and Ali but we are called Babak, Shahram and Ardeshir in the house. I am the older son of the family. One of my brothers is working in the stock market in Iran and the other lives in the United States. I married in 1993.”

Ali Zavvar continued, “I was not interested in going to America and since my both grandfathers had printing houses and when I went to Mashhad before my grandfather, I was working in his printing house, I liked to set up a printing house here. Even, I was on the verge of signing a contract for buying a printing house, but apparently my father knew everything and asked me to go to the United Stated for one or two years and learn the English language and then come back again. I was in America for 17 years. However, I liked to become a barber since youth. And when I went to America, I liked to become a chef, even I enrolled in a chef course but since I was employed I could not continue.”

He said, “My father passed away on 4th of March 1992. When he died, I along with my brothers came back to Iran and were supposed to return to America again. But since nobody was willing to buy the publications, we could not come back. There were only eight book titles in my father’s store including Simin Behbahani’s books, “Masnvi’s Dictionary and Interpretations”, Naser Khosrow’s Safar Nameh and Benjamin Spcok’s “Baby and Child Care”. My father could sell ten thousand copies of Rahi Moayeri’s “Life Shadow”, but he did not reprint them. He was interested in printing the first edition of books. My father was perhaps weak in accounting. When I started handling the printing house, none of the authors were going to take back their books. They gave me an opportunity and I republished their books.”  

The publisher added, “I was very interested in the job I had in America and if I continued it, I was happier now. But my mother liked a lot that the publications remained open. He asked me to do this, because we did not dare to tell her no. she had become old and tolerated many hardships. Now, this is not my favorite job, because I have another background from income and job and now after 25 years that I am working in this job, I do not know where I will go and what will be the final result. Everything is vague for me and I do not know what I have and what I do not. I am still worried whether my check will be passed or not. At present, I sell some two or three books per day. I am not upset of seeing the book columns in my store, because book is like a friend and in fact an assurance for me.”


They wanted to buy books and zincs per kilo!

He added, “I printed the book “The History of Iranian Ancient Sport (Zoorkhaneh)” with my own personal interest. At present, I have some 200 book titles, but this has been some 700 book titles for the period of my father. The reason for not republishing a number of them is they do not have selling market because of their subjects. Now, I publish some five to six book titles and republished some 20 titles annually.”

Ali Zavvar continued, “Zavvar Publications is active in the areas of history, literature and public culture. One time, I changed my way and printed novel and psychological books and things like this but I was not successful. In 2012, I made 25 book titles each of them in 2000 to 3000 copies into pulp. The book which is not sold is our enemy because I become more upset by seeing them.”

He said, “Two years after the passing away of my father, we wanted to sell the publications with the whole printing accessories for 30 million tomans and in monthly installments of one million tomans. But nobody was ready to buy it. They said we buy the books and zincs per kilo and sign contracts with authors ourselves.”

He said, “In addition to being a bibliographer, my father could also be a good lawyer, because he always answered in a way that you thought you have gotten your answer, but after a while, you found out that you had not received what you wanted. He played with the words very well and had the ability of speech power as high as a university professor. He studied a lot and corrected the books himself.”

About the criteria for pricing his books, he said, “I find the books which are in my favorite level in the market and price them according to their prices. We give 35 percent of discount for book distribution; also give 15 to 20 percent authors’ right; and 30 to 35 percent is the cost of the book production.”

The publisher added, “The provincial fairs are not successful so much, but there are shops in the international fairs which is very good in terms of cash. The Ministry of Culture and Guidance buys books well and it had happened one time that we sold some 700 volumes of books to the ministry, but this has been decreased to some 50 to 100 volumes. The book “Shakheh Nabat” or candy branch which belongs to us is published secretly and the law enforcement should follow up the case. The book “From Saba to Nima” was the only book that ministry complained of a photo of one of its pages and I had to minify it. So far, I’ve never regretted of publishing a book.”

At the end, he said, “The books published for helping the students has nothing but making them lazy. They are like medicine for a patient who has to buy them. The cyber space is a serious rival for book and I do not know why the Ministry of Culture and Guidance does not do anything for stopping the illegal publication of digital books.”

The new round of the meetings "Oral History of Book" has been held in the Book House Institute; the first meeting on 12th of April 2017 attended by Haj Beitollah Radkhah (Mashma’ Chi), the Head of Tehran-Tabriz Publications, the second meeting on 19th of April 2017, attended by Jamshid Esmaeeliyan, the head of Parto Publications, the third meeting on 26th of April 2017 attended by Abolqassem Ashraf-al Ketabi, the head of Ashrafi Publications, the fourth meeting on 17th of May 2017 attended by Hojjat-al Eslam Biok Chitchian, the head of Mortezavi Publications, the fifth meeting on 23rd of May 2017 attended by Seyed Jalal Ketabchi, the head of Islamiyah Publications, and Seyed Fardi Ketabchi and Seyed Mohammad Baqer Ketabchi, the heads of Elmiyah Islamiya Publications, the sixth meeting on 30th of May 2017 again attended by Seyed Jalal Ketabchi, the head of Islamiyah Publications, and Seyed Fardi Ketabchi and Seyed Mohammad Baqer Ketabchi, the heads of Elmiyah Islamiya Publications, the 7th meeting on 6th of June 2017 attended by Morteza Akhundi, the Head of Dar al-Kotob al-Islamiyah Publications, the 8th meeting on Tuesday 13th of June 2017 again attended by Morteza Akhundi, the Head of Dar al-Kotob al-Islamiyah Publications, the ninth meeting on 20th of June 2017 attended by Mahdieh Mostaqni Yazdi, the owner of Karnameh Publications, Makan and Roozbeh Zahraee, the sons of the late Mohammad Zahraee, the former head of Karnameh Publications, the tenth meeting on Wednesday 28th of June 2017 re-attended by Mahdieh Mostaqni Yazdi, the owner of Karnameh Publications and Roozbeh Zahraee, the son of the late Mohammad Zahraee, the late head of Karnameh Publications, the eleventh meeting on Tuesday 11th of July 2017 attended by Mohammad Reza Najian Asl, the Head of Rasa Publications, the twelfth meeting on Sunday 16th of July 2017 attended by Mohammad Reza Jafari, the Head of Nashr-e No (new publication), the thirteenth meeting on Tuesday 18th of July 2017 attended by attended by Mohammad Reza Najian Asl, the Head of Rasa Publications, the fourteenth meeting on Tuesday 25th of July 2017 attended by Mohammad Reza Jafari, the Head of Nashr-e No (new publication), the fifteenth meeting on Saturday 29th of July 2017 attended by Mohammad Nik Sirat the head of Payam Publications, the sixteenth meeting on Tuesday 8th of August 2017 attended by Saeed Eqbal Ketabchi, the head of Eqbal Publications, the seventeenth meeting on Saturday 12th of August 2017 again attended by Saeed Eqbal Ketabchi, the head of Eqbal Publications, the eighteenth meeting on Tuesday 15th of August 2017 attended by Davoud Musaee, the Head of Farhang-e Moase Publications and the nineteenth meeting on Tuesday 22nd of August 2017 attended by Mehrdad Kazem Zadeh, the Head of Maziar Publications.  

Also, the first round of the meetings of “Oral History of Book” was held with the attempt of Nasrollah Haddadi in the Book House Institute since 2014 to summer 2015. The result of the meetings has been published in a book entitled “Oral History of Book” in 560 pages by the Book House Institute.  

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