St. Petersburg's largest and most famous bookshop, Dom Knigi ("House of the Book") occupies one of the most beautiful buildings on Nevsky Prospekt - the Singer Company Building, an innovative and richly decorated Art Nouveau masterpiece.
In 1902, the plot of land was bought for a million rubles by Singer Manufacturing Company, the world-famous maker of sewing machines.The company wanted a building similar to the skyscraper that was then being constructed for them in New York. However, St. Petersburg's strict building codes dictated that no building could be higher than 23.5 meters at the cornice. Despite these limitations, the architect Pavel Syuzor managed to create a supremely elegant building that captured the spirit of the age, and featured a number of technological innovations. It was the first building in St. Petersburg to use a metal frame, which made possible the huge windows on the ground floor. Another first for St. Petersburg was the glass-roofed atrium, and the building was equipped with the latest lifts, heating and air-conditioning and an automatic system for clearing snow from the roof.
The building rapidly became one of the most famous and best-loved on Nevsky Prospekt. It was briefly home to the US Embassy during the First World War and soon after the October Revolution it was nationalized and assigned to the state publishing company Petrogosizdat (later Lenizdat). The offices of several other publishing organizations found space in the building, including Lendetgiz - the Leningrad Children's State Publisher, which had among its employees a number of celebrated writers, including Daniil Kharms and Mikhail Zoshchenko.
Dom Knigi, the main state bookseller, was opened in the building in 1938. During the Siege of Leningrad, the shop continued to operate even when a bomb was dropped on the neighboring building, shattering all of Dom Knigi's windows and flooding the storage rooms. It was only in the winter of 1941 that the shop, lacking electricity and heating, closed temporarily. The building was closed in 1948 to repair war damage, and again for restoration in the middle of the last decade. Otherwise, it has been St. Petersburg's most popular bookshop for over seventy years. What is also interesting, that last two stories are occupied by “Vkontakte” offices – Russian largest social network.