The oldest, as well as the most prestigious Romanian publishing house, Cartea Românească was founded in 1919 as a result of the fusion of several publishing houses and printing shops: C.I. Rasidescu’s Printing shop (descendant of C.A. Rosetti’s old printing shop), „Ioanițiu și fiii” (Ioanitiu and sons) Bookshop & Publishing House (1858), „Librăria Școalelor” (The Schools’ Bookshop) (1891) and „Minerva” Institute (1898),  on the initiative of Ion Athanasiu , rector of the University of Bucharest, and of professor Ion Th. Simionescu, former rector of the University of Iași, famous Sanda Marin’s father. The initiators of the publishing house proposed “to create publishing institute for printing a cheap library with literary but mostly scientific content for spreading culture.”

In 1948 Cartea Românească was disbanded by the communist regime, only to be brought again into existence in 1970, as the publishing house of the Romanian Writers Union, under Marin Preda’s administration and literary patronage, with the aim of promoting Romanian writing by publishing both well-known and young writers.

After Marin Preda’s death in 1980, Cartea Românească was administrated successively by the novelist George Bălăiță and by Magdalena Popescu-Bedrosian. Between 1996 and 2005 its director was the literary critic Dan Cristea.

On June 1st, 2005, Cartea Românească was taken over, in administration, by Polirom Publishing House, by the Decision of the Managing Committee of the Romanian Writers Union under the presidency of Eugen Uricaru.

Since January 1st, 2017, Cartea Românească has been under the administration of Paralela 45 Publishing House, by the 22/09/2016 Decision of the Managing Committee of the Romanian Writers Union under the presidency of Nicolae Manolescu. Its publishing policy is settled by a Managing Council made up of Nicolae Manolescu, Răzvan Voncu (representing   the Romanian Writers Union) and Călin Vlasie (manager of Paralela 45 Publishing House). Under the new administration, Cartea Românească has continued the publishing policy initiated by Marin Preda in 1970, to which it has been added, as proposed by Călin Vlasie, the initial desiderate shared by the founders of the publishing house, that of printing cheap books with a literary and scientific content, written by Romanian and foreign authors, books that propagate culture and stimulate young people to read.