Dienstag, 16.07.2019 10:09 Uhr

Suhrkamp boasts unique Eastern connections and successes

Verantwortlicher Autor: Jochen Raffelberg Frankfurt, 04.04.2019, 18:41 Uhr
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Frankfurt [ENA] Suhrkamp, German publishers of Hermann Hesse, Isabel Allende and Marianna Salzmann, have been focusing on authors from Eastern Europe since moving office from Frankfurt to Berlin ten years ago, seeing today’s publishing industry challenges in how to draw readers’ attention to books, managing director Jonathan Landgrebe told Frankfurter Buchmesse’s Juergen Boos in an interview published today.

According to Bookmark, Frankfurt Book Fair’s newsletter, Landgrebe said when they relocated to the German capital the fact that literature from Eastern Europe was a very important area had played into the decision to move to Berlin with its proximity to Eastern Europe. “Whether we’re talking about Sasha Marianna Salzmann, Katja Petrovskaja or Maria Stepanova, just a few of the big literary successes we’ve had in recent years, they’ve all got a connection with Eastern Europe. We’re unique in this and, by the way, also for the fact that we represent our non-German speaking authors on rights issues worldwide,” Landgrebe said.

Asked which languages apart from Eastern Europe were important areas for Suhrkamp today after bringing Isabel Allende, Octavio Paz, Julio Cortázar and Clarice Lispector to the German-language market last century, the publisher said they were still issuing many translations from the Spanish-speaking world, but were also strong on publishing from French, and publishing significantly more Anglo-American literature than before. Asia was more complicated, because of a smaller readership potential, and the language barrier made it more challenging to discover books. “But we are working right now, for example, on a complete new translation of one of the most important Chinese classics, The Robbers of Liang-Schan-Moor,” he said.

Amid dwindling book sales, he admitted that publishers did not have the same receptive readership they once had and that the traditional media was no longer as influential when it came to promoting books, and also bookshops were losing ground. But he had no doubt that the book was the right form although his company offered everything in digital form as well, “but the print book will continue to play a dominant role”, he said adding what the sector had forgotten in discussions over the years, ‘ E-Book or print’, was how society had changed as a result of digitalization: "The way people get information, how they communicate, how much time they have for books and how we draw people’s attention to books. That’s where the challenges are.”

Frankfurt Book Fair manager Boos said Landgrebe managed the balancing act between literary ambition and bestseller suitability, upholding the tradition of one of the most important German publishing houses without losing sight of current trends. Suhrkamp Verlag started in 1950. With its roots going back to the “arianized” part of S. Fischer Verlag it is acknowledged by the trade as one of the leading European publishers of fine literature. Suhrkamp has 140 employees and annually turns over some €30m. Its subsidiaries include Insel Verlag, Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, Juedischer Verlag und Verlag der Weltreligionen. Suhrkamp has been a key exhibitor at Frankfurt Book Fair; its 2019 version will take place in October.

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