The Street of Serbian Book Trade
Today it is a place where people of Novi Sad go out, a must-see tourist route. From the second half of the XVIII to early XX century, in the oldest part of this street, in an area not longer than two hundred meters, there were more Serbian printing shops, bookstores and binderies than ever in one place in the entire national history. These books, calendars and magazines make us proud even today. It is difficult to say whether this street is more beautiful to leaf or to wander through

By: Đorđe M. Srbulović

Watching it stretching lazily, with its head leaning upon the Bishop’s Palace and its feet soaking in the Danube, one could hardly imagine the significance and role of Dunavska (Danube) Street in the history of Novi Sad, Serbs outside of Serbia and Serbian nation in general. In its multi-dimensional importance and multitude of its historical roles, we will mention only one chapter: from the second half of the XVIII to early XX century, in the oldest part of this street (from Bishop’s Palace to the entrance of the present Danube Park), in an area not longer than 200 meters, there were more Serbian printing shops, bookstores and binderies than ever in Serbian history. We will tell about them chronologically – as they appeared in time, and in numbers – according to the house numbers in which their owners lived and worked.


It all started with a Serbianized Aromanian – Damjan Stefanović Kaulicije (1760-1810), the forerunner of bookshop business in Novi Sad. His family moved from Arad, where Damjan was born, to Novi Sad, where the talented boy completed grammar school. He studied bookbinding trade in Buda, Vienna and Pressburg and started the business in Novi Sad, without a license from the authorities. He had a house in the place of the present Bishop’s Palace, with a bookshop and bindery on the ground floor and an apartment, where he lived with his family, on the first floor. He was engaged by the Magistrate to bind their tax booklets and also worked as a book trader.
He brought (better to say imported) books from Russia, where he traveled frequently, and sold them across the Karlovac Metropolitanate, with a written recommendation of Metropolitan Stratimirović. He was also one of the first Serbian publishers – the first book he published was Various Songs on Holy Days. He tried to open a Serbian printing shop, but failed.
The book trade he started became a family business, since it was continued by his son Konstantin, and after him his grandson Jovan. They were especially successful in book commerce. Konstantin was the first to start publishing and printing annual calendars, and published the first issue of Annals in Pest present Annals of Matica Srpska in Pest, the oldest living literary magazine.
Unfortunately, during the Serbo-Hungarian war, 1848/49, when the Hungarian rebel troops destroyed old Novi Sad with cannon fire from the Fortress on June 12, 1849, the Kaulicije family house with the bookshop was also wrecked.


Another Serbianized Aromanian – Emanuil Janković is even more significant. He was born in Novi Sad around 1758, and after completing Bishop Visarion’s Slavic-Latin Gymnasium, he left to Halle to study medicine. However, he was more interested in book trade, so he spent more time learning this than medicine, which he soon gave up. It is important to say – perhaps that is the secret of Janković’s dedication to book trade – that he became the best student of Dositej Obradović in Halle, thus a follower of secular and rational enlightenment. His need to bring his skills in book trade to perfection led him to Vienna and Leipzig. He spent much time in Prague, where he studied with Jan Mihail Sam in Mostecka Street. After the death of master Sam, Janković took over the French-German bookstore from Sam’s widow.
Although he wasn’t granted permission for opening the first Cyrillic and Serbian printing shop, he published several books in Serbian and thus became the first contemporary Serbian publisher. He printed the first book catalogue – including books he had in his bookstore for selling, as well as those he purchased from different sides for trading. Since he did not have a license for a printing shop, he had to give up his intention to start and print a magazine in Serbian language.
He could not make a decent living from books, so he had great support from Dositej, who considered Janković his best student and often supported him financially. Janković died in Subotica in 1791, during his trip from Vienna to Novi Sad. His brothers Jovan and Petar continued his business, and only his nephew Pavle received permission for opening a Serbian printing shop. It was in 1836. After the death of Pavle Janković, this bookstore, now the most famous, was taken over by Petar Stojanović. It remains unknown whether he remained in the same house.
A memorial plate was placed on the façade of the ”At the White Lion” house, testifying about Janković.


The central point of Serbian book trade at the time we are writing about was the house in number 1, Danube Street. At one point of time, it also used to be a Serbian Reading Room. This Serbian institution, established already in 1844, remained at the same address in the period between the two wars. During World War II, it was permitted to work, which was considered a miracle, since Serbian cultural institutions and institutes were not granted licenses from Hungarian occupation forces. At the first general assembly during the war, in 1942, its then president, priest Alimpije Popović, resigned and Milan L. Popović, journalist, editor in chief of New Post during the occupation and representative in the Hungarian parliament, took over his position. After the war ended, Popović was executed and priest Alimpije became the first president of the National Liberation Board of Novi Sad and new-old president of the Reading Room. He tried to preserve the Reading Room, but the communist authorities were not inclined towards Serbian institutions either: it was closed in 1958, by merging with the City Library, which has been at this address to the very day.
A house number important for Serbian book trade is also 14: from 1865 to 1869, Matica Srpska was located in the house with this number. It was in the home of Svetozar Miletić.
One of the symbols of Serbian publishing and important for spreading the cult of Montenegro in Novi Sad, great benefactor, patron and many other things – was Arsa Pajević (1841-1905). Starting at the printing shop of Danilo Medaković, later working in the printing shop of Bishop Platon, Belgrade State Printing Shop and Serbian cooperative printing shop, he grew into a skilled printer and publisher. Upon his return from Montenegro to Novi Sad in 1876, he bought a printing shop from Dr. Jovan Subotić and moved into the house in Dunavska 1. He later bequeathed the house to the Serbian Gymnasium and sold the printing shop in 1895 to Đorđe Ivković. It should also be mentioned that Dr. Subotić published the popular political daily Nation in his printing shop at the same address.
Arsa Pajević was Zmaj’s publisher until they permanently departed due to the ”Forefathers Day” – the assassination of Miša Dimitrijević. He remained known as a publisher of popular books and magazines: Marigold, Precocious, Illustrated War Chronicle 1877-78, Maple, Bumper, Serbian Zion, calendars Eagle, Little Emperor and others. A great admirer of ”Serbian Sparta”, he printed many works from Montenegro, including the first commercial edition of Prince Nikola’s Balkan Empress. Pajević’s house was the home of the then Montenegrin aristocrats: Marko Miljanov, serdar Janko and many others. He was honored with medals by Prince Nikola and King Aleksandar Obrenović. Pajević’s bookshop was a unique cultural center, where many writers, painters, actors, gathered. Geca Kon, as well as others, such as Svetislav Cvijanović, learned this trade from him.
Following the death of Arsa Pajević in 1905, Svetozar Ognjanović (1869-1927) took over and successfully managed Pajević’s bookshop. At the beginning of World War I, Hungarian nationalists burst into the bookstore and demolished it completely. The estimated damage was huge. It continued working after the war and his bookstore remained, according to the tradition established at the time of Pajević, a national cultural center. Books were given for reading for a small fee.


Luka Jocić (1839-1926) began his book trade and publishing activities ”not even close to books”. He was born in St. Tomas and had a military career, but left it at the age of 31, when he became estate manager of the greatest Serbian benefactor, Marija Trandafil. This introduced him to higher social classes, to which he adapted very well. Doctor and writer Ilija Ognjanović Abukazem introduced him to publishing, talking him into publishing Maple, so Jocić printed the first issue of this magazine. His shop and paper store was in number 16. Jocić was also the publisher of Stražilovo and Milenko Grčić. Already in 1880, after joining forces with Đorđe Ivković, he published Basil with a note: ”a gift to children”. He paid attention to paper quality and the cover pages of his editions were true works of art. He was awarded silver medal at the Industrial Exhibition in Trieste for his book of Branko’s poems, with 36 illustrations and golden binding. He published pedagogy, economy, law, medicine and other manuals and textbooks. On the 25th anniversary of his work, he retired, leaving the bookstore and printing shop to Milan Ivković, who later sold it.
A German from Petrovaradin, Ignaz Fuchs (1828-1877), also had his place in book trade in Novi Sad at the time of Miletić. In 1850, he requested and was granted permission from the city authorities to move to Novi Sad and start a binding shop. We mention him as the only publisher who lived and worked in Dunavska Street (no. 14, according to some data), but did not belong to Serbian publishing: he printed cheap and poor pro-governmental dailies.
Finally, it is impossible not to mention the Ivković family, whom the great chronicle writer of Serbian book trade, great Petar Jonović, calls a dynasty: ”The house in number 10 is the home of the Ivković family: excellent printers, binders, book traders, restorers.” It is interesting that the previous owner of the house, attorney and journalist Dr. Stevan Pavlović, was also related to printing and publishing. He was editor in chief of the Our Life newspaper.
Đorđe Ivković (1856-1920) came to Novi Sad from Sombor and learned the trade in the ”Popović Brothers Bookshop”. Due to his hard work and abilities, Luka Jocić accepted him as his partner. In 1895, he bought the printing shop from Arsa Pajević and four years later moved it to his house in Dunavska Street, purchased from attorney Dr. Stevan Pavlović. He was inherited by his younger son Arsa, named after his godfather Arsa Pajević. The Ivković family still has a binding shop in Dunavska 10. It persists despite modern times. Part of the Ivković family is Milan, also born in Sombor in 1871. He had a bookshop in Novi Sad, at the corner of Dunavska and Zmaj Jovina streets. It was the place where Emanuil Janković opened the first French-German bookshop in the late XVIII century, which served as the starting point of this reminiscence.


In Five Languages
He did not succeed in opening a bookshop and printing shop in Belgrade, so he came to Novi Sad, where he opened a bookstore in 1790, in the house ”At the White Lion”, on the corner of Dunavska and Zmaj Jovina streets. It was the French-German bookshop he brought from Prague. The books sold excellently. The Novi Sad Serbs eagerly read books in the official language of the Empire – Latin, official language in the state – German, language of Europe – French, Orthodox Christian – Russian and before all – Serbian.


The Era of Serbian Little Athens”
During the Serbo-Hungarian war, 1848/49, known as the ”Hungarian Uprising”, Novi Sad was completely destroyed by cannon fire from the Petrovaradin Fortress. After the defeat of Hungarian rebels in August 1849, life gradually started returning to the desolated and wrecked city. Very soon, Novi Sad not only reached the earlier level of development and culture, but also surpassed it. It was the era of ”Serbian Little Athens”. Serbian printing, publishing and book trade reached its climax in this period.


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