AST was established in 1990 by Alexei Gertsev, Sergei Derevianko and Tatiana Derevianko as "Creative Cooperative Association AST" (Russian: Творческое кооперативное объединение, or АСТ). It has become one of the largest book publishing groups in Russia and accounts for about 13% of the Russian book production (by number of copies). AST Publishing comprises several imprints including Astrel, Avanta+, Premiera-Media, Corpus, as well as the comic book and manga publisher Comics Factory. It also owns a book-store chain called "Bukva".
AST has a wide portfolio of highly popular brands and publishes a vast range of books, from classics to modern bestsellers, educational and professional books, books for travel and leisure.
AST’s authors such as Boris Akunin, Mikhail Veller, Dmitri Gluhovsky, Alexander Kabakov, Vladimir Sorokin, and Elena Chizova have won top literary prizes including the "Russian Booker Award” and the "Big Book" award. AST cooperates with leading international literary agencies for translations of foreign authors.
In June 2012, EKSMO announced it would take control of AST after the company filed for bankruptcy in April 2012, but no formal merger has taken place thus far. AST is still a separate business.
Key Company Developments In 2012
AST’s revenues dropped from 10 billion RUB to roughly 9.3 in 2012, and its share of the overall Russian book market fell to 11.34% (in value, from 14.83 in 2011) (Publishing Industry Magazine).
Ownership, Mergers & Acquisition, Internal Organization:
In April 2012 the commercial subdivision of AST "Pyaty okean" filed for bankruptcy, as their debts reportedly exceeded 7.5 billion RUB.
By mid-2012, EKSMO announced to have taken control over several commercial divisions of AST, excluding AST’s Bukva bookstore chain. However, no formal merger has taken place thus far, and both companies remain separate businesses.
AST is experimenting with different ways of presenting content to readers, which includes two widely popular multi-media projects based on the post-apocalyptic scenario S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (after the motion picture Stalker (1979) by Andrei Tarkovsky), and Metro 2033, based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novel published in 2009. More than 3 million books published under the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. brand have sold, which makes the project a world leader in book-based game products.