blumenbar – From Literary Salon to Unconventional Publishing House
When did you begin publishing books? And what made you start out in publishing?
Our first book – the novel Memomat by Munich-based author and TV journalist FX Karl – appeared in autumn 2002. The blumenbar publishing house evolved from a literary salon which existed for many years at Number 3, Blumenstrasse, just round the corner from Munich's famous food market.
What are your professional backgrounds? Did you train as publishers?
Wolfgang Farkas trained as a journalist and can draw on his years of experience as an editor and freelance writer. I myself am a qualified bookseller and business administrator specialising in the publishing industry.
Who are your role models in publishing?
My personal role model is Antje Kunstmann, who has worked in the industry for 30 years, selling high-quality publications very successfully while still maintaining her independence.
How would you describe your publishing portfolio?
blumenbar focusses on contemporary German and international literature. The key criteria for inclusion in our portfolio are literary excellence and social relevance. blumenbar sees itself as a literary voice for our age – a publishing house which not only follows but also sets the agenda. One of our particular aims is to discover and mentor new authors and develop a long-term relationship with them.
Unlike many traditional literary publishers, blumenbar has a unique and authentic profile. The distinctions between the new books being produced by many other publishers are becoming increasingly blurred, but a blumenbar book is instantly recognisable. In terms of both style and substance, blumenbar has developed a strong brand identity in an increasingly amorphous market.
How do you find and select your authors?
|The Rum Diary|
Rather than employing literary agents or scouts, blumenbar is part of a vibrant literary scene and acts as its own agent and scout.
Are you a political publisher?
We are not a political counter-force in the style of the 1960s and 1970s. But we certainly do regard our work as politically relevant.
What are the advantages of being a small independent publishing house?
The advantages are flexibility, speed and our very independence, which allows us to publish whatever we regard as important and good-quality.
Is blumenbar making a profit? If not, when do you anticipate doing so?
It's already paying for itself, but we certainly do need to sell more books. One of our most important mid-term aims is to improve our sales and distribution.
What was your most successful publication to date?
The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson and Berliner Verhältnisse (i.e., Berlin Affairs) by Raul Zelik are our most successful titles so far.
What is the relationship between aesthetics – in other words, the craft of creating an attractive book – and content?
A book's unique feature is its content. Apart from that, it is just one product among many. So it needs to be attractive and eye-catching for the consumer, which is why the design and layout of a book are very important.
How important are publishing networks and contacts within the industry from your perspective, especially given that you are based in Munich, one of Germany's major publishing centres? Or is location less relevant to you?
Being based in Munich does give us a number of advantages. It means that we can network with other industry players, which is very important for a small publisher.
What is your attitude towards new forms of publishing, such as digital media?
Books are an ideal medium for conveying complex texts or content and will certainly still exist in future. Nonetheless, we are monitoring what is happening in the digital world very closely so that we can react swiftly if necessary.
is literary editor of the Hanover city magazine STADTKIND and writes regurlarly on contemporary literature various media.
Translation: Hillary Crowe
Copyright: Goethe-Institut, Online-Redaktion
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