Bukvoed, one of Russia’s leading bookstore chains, has been selling Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is from a prominent stand at one of its specialist stores in St. Petersburg since last year.
The bookstore, called “The Shop of the Most Essential Books: In All Senses,” stocks about 60,000 titles, with many unique books on spiritual traditions, world religions, spiritual practices, history, astrology, philosophy, psychology, health and business. Its mission is to help customers to grow.
“Every month, the Bukvoed chain has a different theme, for which we prepare meetings and presentations with different writers, actors, musicians and famous people,” says “In All Senses” project manager Bhakta Nikita, a Krishna devotee. “For example, February is the month of History, March is the month of Theatre – and April is the month of ‘Spiritual Books.’”
For the past year, Nikita has been aspiring for initiation by Radhanath Swami. And the ISKCON guru’s promotion for his book The Journey Home inspired Nikita to take advantage of Spiritual Book month at his store to stock Bhagavad-gita As It Is and have a special guest present it.
As Nikita was planning the presentation, a young new devotee named Ilya phoned him and offered to make a special display stand for the Bhagavad-gita as an offering to Srila Prabhupada.
Assisted by designer Ekata Das, who is well-known for designing the Russian edition covers of Radhanath Swami’s books, the two created a beautiful stand decorated on its side with a life-size picture of Lord Krishna playing the flute, and on top with a large image of Krishna and Arjuna.
On April 30th, 2013, the Bhagavad-gita As It Is stand was unveiled at the store, and 220 people arrived to see ISKCON Russia leader Bhakti Vijnana Goswami present the spiritual classic.
“He spoke about the Bhagavad-Gita, its origin, and its spiritual science in a very comprehensive way, and answered questions from the audience,” says Nikita. “Sixty-one copies of Bhagavad-Gita As It Is were sold, and the presentation also generated a lot of interest in the mass media. One TV station broadcast an interview with Bhakti-Vijnana Goswami, and the St. Petersburg magazine ‘Pointer’ also published a lengthy interview with him.”
The event’s success also led to more presentations at the In All Senses bookstore by various well-known ISKCON devotees and preachers.
On May 8th, 2013, Indradyumna Swami presented the latest volume of his “Diary of a Travelling Preacher” series. On June 15th, Gadadhara Pandit Das presented his book “Ganesh is a Messenger of Luck.” And on September 2nd, Russian ISKCON guru Chaitanya Chandra Charan Das presented his work “Levels of Conscience.”
Meanwhile, set attractively apart on its stylish stand, Bhagavad-gita As It Is continues to attract In All Senses customers.
“People come up to the stand, take a book, sit down, look through it and read,” says Nikita. “One man who came to the store to buy a book on psychology found a copy of Bhagavad-gita standing next to it, and took that home too.”
While Nikita says the book business is currently seeing a decrease in the demand for print books and a higher demand for e-books, he comments, “I doubt that the demand for the Bhagavad-Gita in its physical incarnation will ever drop, because you always want to touch it again and again, to feel closer to it and never let it go.”
Last year, 120 copies of Bhagavad-gita As It Is were sold at the store. Forty more were just ordered this month.
“Our goal is to progressively increase the quantity of books by Srila Prabhupada in our store,” says Nikita. “We also plan to make a separate BBT stand, and are in talks with Bukvoed to have books by Srila Prabhupada delivered to all the stores in the chain.”
It’s an exciting development, as there are 57 Bukvoed stores in St. Petersburg alone.
It’s also one that Srila Prabhupada would likely have been delighted with. At a book launch for the McMillan edition of his unabridged Bhagavad-gita As It Is at Dillon’s bookshop on Oxford St in London in 1973, he said:
“If the publishers and the book sellers also help us in this movement, then people will be very much benefited. That is our request… So our only appeal is that all book sellers, all publishers, may come forward and cooperate with us and distribute the transcendental literature in the unique form. They will find something sublime, and we’ll be benefited.”
To see more pictures of the event please visit: http://vk.com/album-43127090_173622069
Aug 06, 2022
Brahmatirtha das Director, Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies