Mir Books: Filling a Niche

June 23, 2022

Russian literature stereotypically compromises Tolstoy’s novels and works by scientists with unpronounceable names. Another Russian literature stereotype deals with fiction subject matter. It pokes fun at the prolonged, abject suffering of the country, how it has become the standard way of life for them, and that it makes them strong, resilient people. Despite actions by their politicians, the Russian people have a great sense of humor and love joking about their unyielding misery with themselves and foreigners.

As for their non-fiction works, especially in the sciences, there is an entire library of knowledge unknown to the majority of the world. Mathematicians, physicists, chemists, and other scientists are usually the only ones familiar with these works, but these fields have a limited audience.

Mir Books is the name of a defunct Soviet Union publisher as well as a blog maintained by a dedicated fan. The unnamed fan has made it their mission to share these out-of-print titles with the world, because of nostalgia and for posterity.

“An entire generation of Indians came of age with the titles from Mir Publications. But with the end of the Soviet era, the Mir saga came to an end. The Mir titles which at times were cheaply and easily available became scant. And finally ceased to be a part of the mainstream bookshops. The only places one could find them were in the used book shops, and that too became scarce as the years went by. This trend continues till date. To find a Mir title today even in a used book shop is nothing less than a MIRacle!! …

Many of the titles will be lost forever never to delight a new generation of readers. The knowledge that at least these books existed should not be lost. This blog is a project to make a comprehensive list of the titles published by Mir and over the years. So that the knowledge about these titles goes to the larger community, so that in the future someone can take up their digitization and / or republication. I urge and request all the people who owe even a little bit to books by Mir to contribute their knowledge about these books here…”

What is remarkable is that Mir Books published books for the Indian market. India and Russia are not normally associated with each other, but they are close neighbors and it only makes sense they are economic partners, especially in the Soviet age!

The blog creator digitized a lot of rare science texts, but the best are the children’s books. The Soviet Union printed propaganda material just like communist China and Nazi Germany to indoctrinate kids, but they also published educational materials with a Soviet slant. Despite complying with propaganda rules, they do contain scientific facts. The scientists with the unpronounceable names had to get the basics somehow.

Whitney Grace, June 23, 2022

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