Decree on the State Publishing House

Central Executive Committee, Decree on the State Publishing House. January 11, 1918


Original Source: Vtoroi vserossiiskii s”ezd Sovetov rabochikh i soldatskikh deputatov: sbornik dokumentov (Moscow, 1957), 243-44.

Taking into consideration …. the widespread unemployment among printers and the book hunger in the country the library publication section of the People’s Commission on education is authorized to proceed with publishing at once and on a large scale. This work is to be done with the co-operation of the following institutions and bureaus: adult education, school departments, arts and sciences, printers’ union, and other organizations concerned, as well as experts especially invited by the Commission.

First of all, cheap popular editions of Russian classics should be published. Books on which the copyright has expired should be brought out in new editions. The writings of all authors which in this way cease to be private property . . . . should in each case be declared by the State Commission on Education a state monopoly for a period of not more than five years. The Commission is to use this right especially in relation to great works of literature, which, according to the present decree, are made the property of the people. These works are to be published in two series: As a complete scientific edition which should be handed over for editing to the section of Russian Ianguage and literature of the Academy of Sciences (after that institution has been democratized to correspond with the new form of government and social order of Russia) and as an abridged, compact, one-volume edition of selected works. In making the selections the editor should have in mind, among other things, the degree of appeal which a book has to the tolling people for whom the popular editions are issued. Each collection and each single volume should have an introduction by a competent critic or historian of literature, etc. There should be created a special editorial board of representatives of educational, literary, and learned societies, as well as of especially invited experts and representatives of labor organizations. The editors chosen by the collegium must submit their plans and editorial notes to this body for approval.

Popular editions of classics should be sold at cost or, if finances permit, below cost or free through the libraries that serve the toiling democracy.

The state publishing house should bring out textbooks in large numbers. The revision and correction of old texts and the compilation of new ones shall rest with a special commission on texts, including representatives of educational, learned, and democratic organizations an(] especially invited experts. The state publishing house may subsidize publications, such as periodicals and books, undertaken by societies and individuals and recognized as being generally useful, provided that if such publications are profitable the state will be compensated first of all.

In order to proceed at once with this important public work the Soviet of People’s Commissars proposes to place a million and a half rubles to the credit of the State Commission on Education.

All printing orders will be distributed in accordance with the decision of the printers’ union. . . . .

A. V. Lunacharskii, People’s Commissar [of Education]

Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, ed., Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918; Documents and Materials (Stanford: Stanford University Press; H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934), pp. 595-596.

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