Deutscher Buchpreis: Congrats to Jung und Jung Verlag and winning author Melinda Nadj Abonji (and a quick foot note)!

With Melinda Nadj Abonji winning the Deutscher Buchpreis very unexpectedly (and Jung und Jung Verlag proving in a most stunning way that a very small publisher can land a very big hit in German language lands indeed!) I am, first of all, in line for all the best wishes! What an accomplishment!

This said – and in an earlier bet on this blog, based on market data, wrongly  predicting a head on head race between Autrian Doron Rabinovici and German Bachmann Prize winner Peter Wawerzinek, I must add that I am of course very pleased with the final result.

This just adds evidence that book landscapes are much more diverse and open to new voices, and new publishers, small and big, than many would suspect. Initiative, good knowledge of literature AND the trade pay off, and it is just not true that successful literature in Europe is more or less always much of the same. NO.

So we will very closely map incoming data about what this surprise evening will set off – and report here as well as through the channels of professional publishing media.

Vorauswertung zum Deutschen Buchpreis 2010: Kopf an Kopf zwischen Wawerzinek und Rabinovici

Ginge es nach der Gunst von Lesern und (online) Buchkäufern, dann müsste die Entscheidung zum Deutschen Buchpreis heute Abend in einem Kopf an Kopf Rennen zwischen Peter Wawerzinek(„Rabenliebe“, Galiani) und DoronRabinovici(„Andernorts“, Suhrkamp) fallen.
Dies zeigt eine Auswertung, basierend auf Daten von von der Veröffentlichung der LonglistEnde August bis gestern, Sonntag 3. Oktober 2010 zur Entwicklung des Verkaufsranges wie auch der Bewertungen und Rezensionen von Lesern.
Der diesjährige Bachmann-Preisträger Wawerzinekging als klarer Favorit in die Vorrunde zu diesem medial wie auch am deutschen Buchmarkt präsentesten Preis.
Rabinovicikonnte allerdings in den letzten beiden Wochen unübersehbar an Publikums-wie Medienwahrnehmung zulegen.
Zu den Einzelheiten siehe unten die Datenauswertungen von Rüdiger Wischenbart Content andConsulting.

The Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2010: Join us at the Frankfurt Book Fair for a debate with industry leaders on facts, trends and outlooks

The Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2010:
Facts, Trends, Outlook.
Industry leaders discuss the business of publishing today

Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 14:30 – 16:00
Frankfurt Book Fair, hall 4.2, Room Dimension
Organiser: Livres Hebdo with buchreport, Publishers Weekly and The Bookseller.

What is the state of the publishing industry? What are the powerhouses, what the strategies and the perspectives for winning the game of change? How is the complex relationship between publishers and retail evolving in a landscape of changing roles?
Based on the empirical evidence as presented by the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry for the fourth year in a row, top representatives of leading global trade publishing and retail groups discuss where the business is going.
Two years into the financial crisis as well as into the take off of e-Books, the consolidation and the globalization of the business, as well as the challenges and opportunities from digital innovation are on top of everyone’s agenda.
But what does this mean, really?
Initiated in 2007 by the French book trade magazine Livres Hebdo, and co-published by buchreport (Germany), Publishers Weekly (US), and The Bookseller (UK), the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry is updated annually and has been researched by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting.
In cooperation with the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Jesús Badenes, Managing director books, Planeta
Peter Field, CEO Penguin, UK
Carolyn Reidy, President and CEO, Simon & Schuster
Pascal Zimmer, Managing director, Libri, Germany

Moderated by Fabrice Piault and Rüdiger Wischenbart

The beat – and the business – of news media in the digital era ahead.

The Future Face of Media: Business Models for the Digital Era.

Frankfurt, May 18, 2010.

It was great fun and highly inspiring to moderate two panels with top media leaders on the “Future of news and news publishing” in Frankfurt organized by Mark Schiffhauer for the Maleki Group.

Rona Fairhead, Financial Times, Andrew Langhoff, Wall Street Journal Europe, Arthur O. Sulzberger, The New York Times.

Rona Fairhead, Financial Times, Andrew Langhoff, Wall Street Journal Europe , Arthur O. Sulzberger, The New York Times.

The prestigious group of speakers at the panels included the publishers of many of the top newspaper and agency brands globally and in Germany, notably Rona Fairhead of the Financial Times, Andrew Langhoff of the Wall Street Journal Europe, Arthur Sulzberger of The New York Times, Laurent Joffrin of Libération, Chris Ahern, of Thomson Reuters, Katharina Borchert of Spiegel Online, Christoph Keese of Axel Springer, Malte von Trotta of dpa, Google’s Kay Oberbeck, Hessische radio news editor Katja Marx, and old Perlentaucher chum Thierry Chervel (with Robin Meyer Lucht as my co-host).

What we learned was perhaps not the big surprises, but a first class survey of firsthand accounts of where several of the very top global media brands are set to go from this point – and that we most likely are at the crossroads, really.

There is not the one true model for the digital era ahead, was the gospel of NYTimes’ Sulzberger. But media (aka newspapers) need to be experimental, engage with readers, develop – and keep – their brand promise (“If we lose it, we are lost” – Langhoff of WSJEurope). “Information wants to be expensive”, according to Fairhead, FT, so introducing metering models and building pay walls is the way to go for everybody, at least at the top end of those media brands. And sure, everybody on the panel was excited about the closed system proposed by Apple’s iPad, which allows to retain exclusive control over a media’s brand, content and payments. This sweet promise appears to have triggered instant decisions to investing significant money for the development of dedicated services and formats for the new platform (e.g. at Axel Springer).

Really stunning was the overall optimistic outlook of almost everybody on the stage. The “religious wars” have been declared to be over (Langhoff). Reuters has hired 200 journalists as of last year (Ahearn) to develop high quality, notably for exclusive new interactive services for a post TV era elite, to be branded “Reuters Insider”.

“Citizen journalism” was remembered coolly as yesterday’s challenge. Solid professional quality journalism was declared to be the frontier of the future.

It was much harder though to find clear statements on the requirements for this good journalism to take off. So far, at least in Germany, “agenda setting” from the “crowd” – or twitter, blogs, anonymous voices from out there – are considered as a rare exception to the rule, while the main brands still rule – said at least the voices from the main brands. However, we desperately need a debate on the quality of journalism today and tomorrow (said Borchert of Spiegel Online).

While everybody seemed to nod at such good intentions, it was less obvious who would spend new money on the new journalism’s digital rise, aside from the recently formed 800 pound gorilla of Thomson Reuters (with its 12,997 million $ of revenue at an operating profit of 1,575 $ – this is really big global media!).

And your moderator – me – was criticized, a bit, by labeling some of the less innovative, less aggressive established media companies’ attitude to be “aristocratic” when they expected that the new entrants should politely knock at their doors (von Trotta, dpa, commenting on Google’s attitude).

Of course, bloggers and twitterers from the audience objected to the big media brand’s optimism, not only by pointing to poor salaries paid for most of today’s online journalism. They also deplored the more and more closed walls of those behemoths represented at the panel.


NYTimes Sulzberger, the natural born leader of the panels’ pack, and Borchert of Spiegel Online, Germany’s youthful, bright and dangerously smiling new front runner in the digital rat race, both insisted that the future may be wide open for everybody who is prepared to move their bottoms vigorously, ready to learn, play pathfinder, take risk – and start all over again every other day.

But disregarding all the optimism which was displayed by the leaders, one other thing was made clear as well: The land ahead ain’t no level playing field. It won’t be offering the same rewards to all, to the many, be they big, medium or small. Instead, there will be winners – and losers – indeed.

Past the religious wars of who’s right – in the trenches of the past five years or so – a hardly original split seems to lay ahead, and the current economic crises will certainly highlight the differences ever more radically:

The landscape ahead – seen from some kind of ‘Moses angle’, knowing that there is a promised digital land out there, yet not knowing exactly who will be allowed to settle in this land, and who is to go away before, in the painful process of finding this land – will be not only highly fragmented, but cascaded.

The boldest of the top media brands go for it in full force, massively investing money and gathering talent now – yet mostly organizational talent, and less often additional talented journalists. They combine muscle now with propositions and guts, so it is only reasonable to expect that some of them will make it, and even make it well.

On the other hand, the crowd out there is nothing less than opaque, or homogenous, in a solitarian “us vs. them” scheme. The crowd includes new entrants and new outcasts, new cowboys and new Indians. And of course, many within the big media fortresses are, at the same time, part of the crowd, as they connect and interact on all available channels, they facebook and twitter and blog and link.

But only a few from the crowds “out there” will be able to end up with a bottom line written in black ink, from providing profitable services, or by leveraging on their digital exposure with other chargeable services, directly or indirectly, from their writing and taping and aggregating and editing. Some will positively do so as niche players in the crowd, yet most will not.

The middle ground, or the majority of actors who used to form the core of “diversity” in the classical media, the local and regional newspapers and radio stations, were only marginally represented in the room and, if so, critically addressed in their desperate lobbying for life saving government regulation, as it is currently proposed in Germany or in France (as ‘Leistungsschutzrecht’, or ‘publisher’s rights’). Their actions will most likely produce some results, but perhaps this is more about buying time, than entering a new safe haven for the long term future.

Personally, I was most comforted – which I had not expected – by realizing that good journalism, broad and in depth coverage, nuances and diversity of angles and opinions seem to have many more realistic perspectives than one would assume from listening to most similar debates over the past few years.

But for those young aspirants who plan to take up such journalism as their profession and career, this is going to be a tough choice. The news and information business will be probably more competitive than ever. Competition will occur between all layers and factions, anywhere, anytime, anyhow, local and global, bringing about a profession that will be unforgiving for most.

At least for most of Europe, such strains will mean a deep change of a professional culture which used to be traditionally based more on a vocation and shared values, than on a struggle for survival. But it will have “manna” on offer for some – the most talented, the most aggressive, or the luckiest.

And a similar pattern may be true for the readers: Top quality journalism will continue to be on offer – at a price. All kinds of information as well as opinion will be available freely as well. But fine, yet clear distinctions will be prevalent, much more than ever before, in what will be accessible by whom, how quickly, under what rules, and at what cost.

For videos of the conference see at Carta;

for Twitter summaries see here and here;

for a German summary in Perlentaucher see here:

and for the complete program see here.

Lesen – Vielfalt – Übersetzungen. Ein Rundgang zur Leipziger Buchmesse


Knapp neun Prozent aller Neuerscheinungen in deutschen Verlagen sind Übersetzungen. Davon entfallen etwa zwei Drittel auf die Belletristik. Zwei von drei Übersetzungen stammen von englischen Originalen ab, weitere rund zwölf Prozent aus dem Französischen. Das bedeutet, dass Übersetzungen aus allen anderen Sprachen insgesamt gerade einmal ein Fünftel aller Übersetzungen ausmachen.

Außerdem nimmt die Zahl der Übersetzungen ins Deutsche im langjährigen Durchschnitt kontinuierlich ab. Weitgehend unbemerkt hat Deutschland auch seinen Ruf als wichtigstes Übersetzungsland in jüngster Zeit an Frankreich abgeben müssen. Diese und ähnliche Daten deuten auf ein vertracktes Problem hin.

Stellt man sich die kulturelle Kommunikation zwischen unterschiedlichen Ländern und Sprachräumen als überaus komplexes Nervensystem vor, dann gehören die Übersetzungen von Büchern klarerweise zu den Hauptsträngen der Kommunikation. Komplexe Ideen und komplizierte Geschichten reisen meist nur über Sprachgrenzen hinweg, wenn sie auch als Übersetzungen angeboten werden. (…)

Die ganze Geschichte hier.

Back to live! With the European top 50 fiction authors 2010

After a pause of a few months – and lots of strategizing, research and development and just a huge load of regular work, this blog is back in operation. So expect to find posts and a few improvements here on a regular basis again.

The quick link of today points to the “50 Fiction Authors Whose Work Had the Greatest Impact on European Reading Markets in 2009“.

While we are fully aware of the leading trio – with Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown -, the report and analysis carries quite a few surprises, too.

Only 21 of the 50 strongest authors write in English! Among the top 10, we find 3 Swedish crime authors. And we can deduct a number of insights on European reading markets – and how the reader’s curiosity seems to be much more substantial than conventional media reporting has it!

Who’s on top in Chinese fiction

The yearly top revenue based ranking of Chinese writers by Danwei provides, just as in previous editions, some highly interesting (and entertaining) insights in how the Chinese fans and readers are ticking. Don’t only go for the top few names, but read the by-lines, and occasionally check back grounds for the names listed – and you will discover some absolutely valuable and relevant results. The ranking is to be found here.

Freshly brewed: The “Diversity Report 2009” – Cultural diversity in translations of books: Mapping fiction authors across Europe.

Books allow ideas and stories to travel, and translations are the vehicle of choice. Oddly enough for such a fundamental mechanism at the core of culture and cultural diversity, we have little precise knowledge, and certainly no data based analysis about the patterns formed by those flows, and even less about the forces driving or hindering the exchange.

After having tried to map the flows of translation across Europe at the most general level in the “Diversity Report 2008”, the present analysis has the ambition to break down those general observations to the level of individual (fiction) authors and their work, and track how they move across languages, or how they do not. Metaphorically speaking, we try to get from a general physical map of the European landscape of translations to a road map.

Findings include:

  1. Books translated from English represent on average about one third of the bestselling authors and titles across the continents, with only Sweden being significant exception;
  2. The UK bestseller market is by far the most averse to translations.
  3. As one consequence, national preferences show a much wider variety of – particularly domestic – authors and books, representing on average another solid third of the top segment, to the effect that countries’ reading preferences seem to be much more diverse, than ‘homogeneous’ across Europe;
  4. Only a small group of authors writing in ‘other’ languages than English or the respective local majority vernacular succeed with translations of their work in a larger number of markets and countries, with some like Larsson and Zafón out-competing their Anglo-Saxon peers;
  5. The very top segment in bestseller lists is a very narrow segment indeed, propelling just 2 or 3 authors in their own category for each country, with the singularity of this high peak marking a significant distinction between markets, and remarkably, it is the UK and Sweden, or two markets with a particularly high percentage of domestic authors on top, where the entire curve of the bestselling authors is considerably flatter than in countries with lesser impact of domestic authors;
  6. At least for the past few years, a recognizable number of European, non-English writing bestseller authors evolved and found a broad mainstream readership across markets and languages, yet exclusively authors from “Western” (or “old”) Europe, forming an exclusive club which is almost impossible to access for authors e.g. from CEE.This West-East “one way street” described above is the only pattern where West & East forms meaningful categories, just as “big” and “small” languages and markets of origin seem to play a far smaller role than often assumed;
  7. While in EUWest, no systematic distinction between a (‘high’) literary elite and eventual access to the top bestselling segment across Europe through translations seems to prevail, this is clearly the case for authors from CEE who made their way to the European literary ‘elite’, but as niche authors, not as authors found access to the European mainstream book readership.
  8. The diversity in fiction bestsellers in terms of treated topics, background of the authors, tonalities and styles is huge, and many of the most successful authors are initially ‘made by readers’, and not planned, contradicting, in the initial career of authors and their successful books, the popular notion of bestsellers being engineered and homogenous.

These findings come with a few provocative insights.

  • The market for rights and licenses which is currently the core driver for translations, does not take in the full spectrum and diversity of what is on offer from authors across Europe, nor what seems to be reader’s preferences. Instead, only a limited set of authors from a restricted set of backgrounds are given the full access to the European reading markets, despite the fact that the recent careers of European non-English writing authors provide strong indications that an appreciative readership for such a wide diversity may exist. The funding policies for translations lack the information and the tools for a realistic assessment of their efficiency.
  • The data compiled and, at least partly, analyzed for this report suggest that a more differentiated and realistic picture of the cultural dimensions of the European book and reading markets can actually be developed;
  • The ambivalent role of English as a bottleneck and as a driving force:
    All general translation data show the evidence of how little is translated into English, if compared to other target languages; and yet more of the ‘elite’ authors are available in English than what is generally assumed. English therefore plays a significant role as a transfer language (together with French and German), a factor of growing importance as the readiness of reading literature in certain foreign languages (most often this means: in English) seems to spread. In many markets, English reading of books written not only in English, but in any language seems to expand, and new digital technologies will drive this development forcefully in the near future.
  • For policy makers, this brings up the critical question of either continuing to focus on translations between the many languages, or to also emphasize lead programs of translations into English.
  • The potential for innovation by digital:
    As digital distribution currently picks up momentum with electronic reading devices and most new titles being rapidly available not only in print, but also in digital formats, there is a strong likeliness that books in translation as well as in their original editions (or in one transfer language, notably in English) will spread much more easily than in the past; this aspect has the potential to develop into a “game changing” mechanism for all kinds of niche reading, hence for literary translations, within a relatively short period of time.

The full “Diversity Report 2009” is ready for download at .

So what did you learn in Frankfurt this year?

…I would be asked,

fbm2009-panorama while still recovering from the ritual book fair cold & cough, and at the same time recapitulating the many many chats and conversations with friends and colleagues, customers and partners in 4 days that feel like, frankly, like a couple of weeks.

Thinking now, in retrospective, of all the self appointed custodians in defense of  “holy culture” and the “holy book”, I must stress: Oh yes, how right they are! Look at my friend Gwyn, a true digerati indeed. What is he doing? Feeding his laptop a bun? Confounding reality and those virtual illusions? Oh my god!

We see, in fact, that the end of reason must be near indeed!


And yet, that future has already a long history, with lots of lost memories…

…remember this antique reading device from Sony? Was it in the good old 20th century? Or even earlier?


I think to remember some distant past.

Or that Rocket e-Book!


The funny thing about these e-readers on display at this year’s Frankfurt book fair, however, was the surprising fact to find them, the old ones as well as the most recent exemples, in a section called

…”Non Books”!


Whoever had decided this categorization was a wise person in fact. Much wiser than most publishing executives, and more knowledgable than all thoase association officials and conference organizers who, as a rule of thumb, tend to miss this crucial point largely: E-Books won’t be just books. They ARE non-books.

Now it is up to us to figure out what they will be really!

Personally, I suppose it is all about reading!


Even if readers don’t always look as we would imagine them.

It is true, that some would prefer that those readers never grow up, really.


This applies to individual readers…

…and even more so to reading communities:


The Islamic Republic of Iran chose to have not only ONE booth, but several, including one in the children section, next to all those Mangas, and one in the Middle East section.

By doing so,  they wanted certainly had the intention to heavily promote their self confidence and their strength – not anticipating at all that, attrackting a load of silent protesters, this would make the protest against each of its stands only much more visible all over the fair!!!

We learn: PR is a tricky thing. This must have also been the lesson taken by the official organizers of China when they opted for displaying not only books from the People’s Republic, but also a selection from Taiwan.


Hower, the ambitious organizers must have picked more books than the censor could read. And some of the books from Taiwan may tackle a sensitive issue which goes officially as the “One China Principle”.

Not being sure what these books contained exactly, the censor decided to place a bright green sticker, in Chinese and English, on every single Taiwan book chosen for the official selection.

This wonderful sticker read: “Any claim denying the One-China Principle in this book will be rejected.”


With a sense of irony, one may see in this action a globalized version of the Google-settlement “opt-out” clause! We could dream up such “opt out” references for many funny opportunities, I suppose!

Anyhow, it was a good fair


with everyone rushing from hall to hall, and most of us professional attendees were catching, as I already mentioned,  the ritual cold while we were making fun of ourselves.

Keep in touch! And: C u in Frankfurt next year!

Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get notified about new reports, blogposts and events