Monday, 7 May 2012

Publishing Musical Chairs

Berlin has a fairly lively publishing landscape, and I have to say it never gets boring. I've been following a couple of developments for a couple of months and am now thoroughly confused.

To start with there was the announcement that the very highbrow Hanser Verlag in Munich was setting up an offshoot by the name of Hanser Berlin. And it looks like they opened their office with a big party last Friday, according to trade mag Börsenblatt. Hanser Berlin is being run by Elisabeth Ruge, who set up Berlin Verlag.

Berlin Verlag, meanwhile, was sold by Bloomsbury to the big fat Swedish publishing conglomerate Bonnier, which was approved by the monopoly commission in March, as you can read in trade mag Buchreport. At the time they also announced they'd be announcing a new initiative in April, called the "Bloomsbury Bonnier Institute". Bonnier told us that "like its counterpart, the Bloomsbury Institute in London, it will organize author events, readings, discussions and other literary offerings." No sign of that just yet, I have to say, which is disappointing because Berlin Verlag does have some fine authors (although a number of them have followed Ruge to Hanser Berlin).

The originally hip indie publishers Blumenbar also used to be sort of under Berlin Verlag's roof, where they did hold a couple of events mixing literature and music. I never got round to going but some friends of mine did and they told me they got drunk and shouted at people for not dancing. Anyway, back in March we learned that the rather more traditional Aufbau Verlag had taken over Blumenbar (see Buchmarkt). And in the cellar of the Aufbau building is the Prince Charles Bar (very bad name) - run by Wolfgang Farkas, one of the Blumenbar founders and now an "advisor" to Aufbau, and Nicolas Mönch from Vice Magazine (which I dislike quite a lot for its sneering attitude but they probably know how to run a good bar).

And then today came the announcement in Buchreport that Aufbau is founding a new, hip young publishing house called Metrolit (very bad name), uniting Walde+Graf from Switzerland with my actual favourite radio station FluxFM, and looking to publish "a mix of literature, society, pop culture and graphic novels". And there we have a couple of refugees from Eichborn in Frankfurt (but no, not the now defunct Eichborn Berlin, which more or less changed into Galiani Berlin, under the aegis of literary heavyweights Kiepenheuer & Witsch of Cologne!) - which was taken over by the family-run popular publishers Bastei Lübbe last year - most notably Lars Birken-Bertsch, the other Blumenbar founder.

Publishing: it's incestuous. I'm hoping that like when the champagne socialists at Suhrkamp moved to Berlin, all this innovation will mean lots of interesting literary events around the city.

No comments: