3 Otava (publisher)

Otava (publisher)

The editorial offices in the centre of Helsinki. 2006 sees the 100th anniversary celebrations of the stony Jugendstil building.

Otava Publishing Company Ltd. (Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava in Finnish) is a major Finnish publisher of books. It was founded in 1890 and now is the second largest in Finland. It publishes fiction, non-fiction, books for teenagers and children, multimedia and teaching materials. The number of new titles a year exceeds 400. Otava has also been at the forefront of encyclopedia-publishing in Finland, with many well-known series, such as the Otavan Suuri Ensyklopedia (Otava's Big Encyclopedia). Some of the prominent writers whose work Otava has published over the years include; Frans Emil Sillanpää, Eino Leino, Paavo Haavikko, Pentti Saarikoski and Laila Hirvisaari.

A short history

Otava was founded in 1890 by Hannes Gebhard and Eliel Aspelin-Haapkylä to publish Finnish national literature. A couple of years later Alvar Renqvist stepped in and gradually took over. He was the main figure during the company's early years. His descendants (surname fennicized to Reenpää) have continued his work so that Otava remains, in spite of its size, to a large extent a family company. 1906 saw the completion of the new headquarters right in the centre of Helsinki. In 1908 printing press operations began and in 1916 the printing of magazines got under way. The first magazine to be launched was Suomen Kuvalehti, which still comes out weekly. From 1945 to 1991 the company was listed in the Helsinki Stock Exchange. In 1955 a new printing house was put up in Keuruu, near Jyväskylä. During the 1960s Otava faced grave financial difficulties but was able to pull through by rationalizing operations. In 1998 Otava bought out its rival company WSOY from the jointly owned Yhtyneet Kuvalehdet, a large publisher of magazines.

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