Follow @izdaniya on Instagram to see highly-produced, surreal photoshoots animating the world of books. The account belongs to one of the oldest bookshops in St Petersburg, Podpisnie Izdaniya, or “Subscription Publications”. First opened in 1926, the shop survived the Second World War, the perestroika, and the 90s.
In the mid 2010s, Izdaniya pioneered curated, niche and independent publishers that were distributed in their small and cozy shop on Liteyny Avenue. As Izdaniya expanded its business to occupy half of a grand Art-Nouveau building in the centre of St Petersburg in 2020, they also set up their wildly creative Instagram, featuring sophisticated, tongue-in-cheek image teasers for books. From witches flying on brooms to recreations of paintings, Izdaniya’s social media team doesn’t shy away from costumes or nudity.
“We just couldn’t stand being yet another bookshop sharing images of an open book carefully placed on a coffee table, or someone reading in a park,” the Izdaniya team says. “Books are not just letters. They offer a deep visual experience that we wanted to share with our audience.”
Each of Izdaniya’s daily posts requires a daily photoshoot. The five members of the social media and marketing team take from an hour to several days to recreate the atmosphere or characters of a book. “But the response we get from the audience almost never coincides with the effort invested. At some point we stopped planning and simply committed to organise photoshoots every day, no matter what,” the team explains.
Their most popular posts were indeed shot impromptu and at very short notice, including the collaboration with the famous Russian TV presenter and writer Leonid Parfenov. “Misha (the owner of Izdaniya) told us there was gonna be a book signing with Parfenov in the shop, for his 20s history tome, but we thought it was a joke, like ‘Steven Fry is coming’. Soon we found ourselves searching for outfits from the 1920s for the 20 members of the Izdaniya staff and the massive ironing that followed,” the team remembers. The post reached over 17K likes on Instagram.
Other production adventures include taking a literally cold bath on the shores of the Gulf of Finland to support the release of Izdaniya’s editorial newspaper Knigi u morya (or Books by the sea), and facing a stray dog attack at an illegal landfill where the team produced the photo shoot for Strana Othodov (or The land of the Waste), a non-fiction book exploring waste in Russia.