Sunday, March 17, 2013

I Still Know the Books You Read Two Decades Back

In our childhood, Mir Publishers from Soviet Union provided a great collection of books. With closed controlled economy getting access to high quality books was a rare opportunity. There were hardly any Indian Editions of any of the well known books from USA. Even if there were some they were old editions, were significantly expensive considering the publishers had to share royalty. And worse still a modified Imperial weights and measures that even the British abandoned half a century back. As if that were not enough, printing and paper quality was nothing great to drive home about. Mir publisher books were well printed, content quality was great and had advanced study material ideally suited for the needs of the students preparing for various competitive examinations which demanded a knowledge level much higher than the regularly university / council or board curriculum. And most important was significantly cheaper than the equivalent books by Indian publishers. Only downside, the translation was more of transliteration. More over, for every great discovery in the western world there was a Russian discoverer which you will not find reference anywhere other than in the Mir books. The books were available only in book exhibitions as they never developed a great distributor network. But most serious students will get a copy of the book somehow. At least some will keep a copy of Irodov on their showcase to show how serious is their pursuit in learning physics. But then the worst came. The Union dissolved and in a rational to cut down their expenses they stopped subsidising education in developing economies like India and the Mir Publisher went belly up subsequently.

Couple of days back I was looking for some books which were popular in India in the net and found many books from the Mir Publishers are getting printed and published in India by many of the textbook publishers. They are available online to be ordered from many online retailers like Flipkart, Infibeam etc. I purchased two volumes of Piskunov's Differential and Integral Calculus. Read through them a bit. The print quality is definitely not there. But at least the books have definitely got wealth of knowledge that cannot be questioned. At least some relevant books get published and are getting circulated. That's definitely heartening to know :-).