Why I reject the “Leitkultur” (the concept of a “Leading Culture”.

On a current debate about culture and politics in Austria.

An iconic image of 'Austrian culture' as seen through AI

“Anyone who rejects our way of life must leave!” The ÖVP’s Leitkultur is directly linked to motifs from Austrofascism in the 1930s.

  1. Expulsion

The “Kleine Zeitung” from Graz, of all places, a media voice that is unsuspected as a left-leaning organ, found the clearest formulation of the ÖVP’s strange media campaign to demand an Austrian “Leitkultur” when it summarized the ÖVP demand as follows: “Austria’s identity is more than legal borders.”

I am not a lawyer, just an Austrian citizen and child of Austrian-citizen parents. Okay, my mother was a naturalized Sudeten German. But otherwise I am a true Austrian. However, we adopted a child – now of age – from Romania, who acquired Austrian citizenship in 1995 on the basis of a court order from the district court in Timisoara, Romania, at my request. Does this Austrian adult now have to swear oaths to Austria? Which ones?

Dear Federal Chairman of the ÖVP, dear Federal Chancellor Nehammer, dear Constitutional Minister Edtstadler, I must ask you: Which of us “must go” if tomorrow he, she or I “reject our way of life”? In other words, the “way of life” according to the guidelines of your party, the ÖVP. And on what legal basis do you imagine that this expulsion should take place?

Because it is about “expulsion” when the ÖVP’s slogan on “Leitkultur” decrees: “Anyone who rejects our way of life must leave!”

  1. The healthy village versus the city without values

In the ÖVP’s polemical advertisements, it is not only the blatant threat of expulsion (“…must go”) that echoes the political catastrophe dynamics of the 1930s in Austria.

“Customs” is used as a central factor in the ÖVP campaign in images and text. The imagery in the ÖVP’s advertisements and social media campaigns refers to an alpine – western Austrian – Austria. Even after a few corrections in visual and typographical details, the ultimate demand is: “Integration through adaptation. For us, this is part of the leading culture (or ‘Leitkultur’)”.

Born and raised in Graz, and having spent 9 months working in the refugee camp in Traiskirchen near Vienna for my ‘civil service’ in the 1980s, I am personally appalled by these attributions.

My ‘civilian’ job at the time was to take refugees, mainly from Poland to the embassies of ‘immigration countries’, i.e. Canada, Australia or South Africa, for their visa applications after the Jaruzelski coup against the Catholic workers’ movement Solidarnosc. Because it was said at the time: “These Poles are far too Catholic to integrate into Austria!” Today’s immigrants seem to be ‘not catholic enough’ by the Leitkultur’s standards – which highlights the odd quality of those standards indeed.

Of course, I am not seriously worried that I myself will soon be expelled from Austria. But this completely unnecessary provocation campaign by the ÖVP plays on another central motif from the pre-fascist 1930s: It suggests the radical incompatibility of life and values between urban and rural areas.

Lately, this 100-year-old, destructive juxtaposition of city and countryside has already contributed massively to the destructive polarization of politics in our some of our neighboring countries, notably in Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, and so in absurdly updated forms.

Is this a promising perspective for Austria?

  1. The law

The closer I look at these unspeakable “Leitkultur” maneuvers by the ÖVP, the more clearly I see them as tactical preparations to ‘slide over’ as easily as possible after the upcoming parliamentary elections in Austria in autumn 2024, to enter a federal government as a junior partner in an FPÖ government under the hard right’s leader Herbert Kickl, or with some shadow construction in which Kickl and his party comrades set the line.

The First Republic in Austria in the 1930s brought great disaster to our country with such actions of ‘sliding over’ into authoritarianism. We don’t want to repeat that.

The strongest line of defense against such a slide was formulated already also in the interwar period of these same 1930s, in clear terms by legal scholar Hans Kelsen, the author of the Austrian Federal Constitution. With the principles of equality of all citizens before the law, the rule of law and democratic principles for the appointment of the highest organs of the state, we still have a solid foundation for our peaceful and successful society in modern day Austria, which does not require any conjuring up of “identity” or other diffuse declarations.

Mr. Federal Chancellor, I do not see how evocations of regionally very different customs or threats of expulsions and deportations would be of any great help in overcoming our current challenges and for the future of Austria in Europe.

In short, let’s stop the incantations. Let’s work, very practically, and together with everyone who lives here, for a good future for this country.

The Global 50 Publishing Ranking 2023 is out

The Global 50 Publishing Ranking 2023 introduces and analyzes leading publishing corporations worldwide.

Cover of the Global Publishing Ranking 2023

The “Global 50 Publishing Ranking”, which has been updated every year since 2007, represents 50 companies that each report revenues from publishing of over 150mEUR (or 200mUSD).

Researched by Ruediger Wischenbart Content and Consulting, who also holds the copyright to the report, the Global 50 includes the list of the companies ranked by their annual revenue, an analysis of industry trends, and detailed company profiles with a summary history, keyfinancials and recent key company developments.

The Ranking is co-published in late summer 2023 by Bookdao (PR China), The Bookseller (Great Britain), buchreport (Germany), Livres Hebdo (France) and Publishers Weekly (USA).

The Global 50 is supported by the digital distributor Bookwire 

The Global 50 does not receive any financial contributions from any of the listed companies.

“Global 50” is published by the participating trade publications and will be also available as a full report of 243 pages in digital format (PDF) for just 50 euros, and can be purchased at www.wischenbart.com/ranking .

Global 50 Ranking 2023 is out

The Global 50 Publishing Ranking 2023 introduces and analyzes leading publishing corporations worldwide.

Cover of the Global Publishing Ranking 2023

The “Global 50 Publishing Ranking”, which has been updated every year since 2007, represents 50 companies that each report revenues from publishing of over 150mEUR (or 200mUSD).

Researched by Ruediger Wischenbart Content and Consulting, who also holds the copyright to the report, the Global 50 includes the list of the companies ranked by their annual revenue, an analysis of industry trends, and detailed company profiles with a summary history, keyfinancials and recent key company developments.

The Ranking is co-published in late summer 2023 by Bookdao (PR China), The Bookseller (Great Britain), buchreport (Germany), Livres Hebdo (France) and Publishers Weekly (USA).

The Global 50 is supported by the digital distributor Bookwire 

The Global 50 does not receive any financial contributions from any of the listed companies.

“Global 50” is published by the participating trade publications and will be also available as a full report of 243 pages in digital format (PDF) for just 50 euros, and can be purchased at www.wischenbart.com/ranking .

Global50 CEO Talk 2023

“Good Stories Never End.”

Hou Xiaonan, CEO of Tencent Corporation’s Yuewen platform, is the sole guest speaker at the Global 50 CEO Talk 2023.

The Global 50 CEO Talk 2023, held in partnership with the Frankfurt Book Fair on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, from 14.00 to 15.00 in the Frankfurt Pavilion, will explore how Yuewen is expanding literary story telling into a dynamic ecosystem which includes reading, comics and animation, film and television, games and much more.

Yuewen is the online platform for writing and reading in China’s Tencent corporation, a multinational technology and entertainment group headquartered in Shenzhen. It currently serves over 10 millions writers and over 200 million monthly active users, hosting over 10 millions literary works, and reporting annual revenues of  7.63 billion Chinese Yuan (958 million Euros or 1.05 billion US Dollars).

Founded two decades ago under the iconic brand name of Qidian, it preceded platforms such as Wattpad or Kindle Direct Publishing, pioneering a digital universe for story telling in all its facets.

About Hou Xiaonan:

Mr. Hou Xiaonan joined Yuewen in April 2020 and currently serves as its Chief Executive Officer, President and Executive Director, responsible for the strategic planning and business operation. Mr. Hou also serves as the Vice President of the Platform and Content Group of Tencent and the Head of Tencent Animation and Comics. Mr. Hou joined Tencent in 2003 and has held various management positions for Tencent businesses including Mobile QQ, Qzone, Tencent Open Platform, YingYongBao, Qingteng and Penguin Media Content Platform, acting as a core figure in Tencent’s open ecosystem strategy. He has extensive and in-depth management experience in product operation, business model innovation, and ecosystem cooperation. 

 

Hou Xiaonan, CEO of Yuewen

The Global 50 CEO Talk is prepared in conjunction with the Global 50 Publishing Ranking of the publishing industry, mapping the 50 largest publishing corporations each year since 2007.

This ranking is listing the world’s 50 largest publishing companies, who in 2022 generated publishing revenues of 62.6 bnEUR (70.9 bnUSD).

The Global 50 Publishing Ranking is researched by Ruediger Wischenbart Content and Consulting, and published by Bookdao (PR China), The Bookseller (UK), buchreport (Germany), Livres Hebdo (France) and Publishers Weekly (US).

The Global 50 Ranking and CEO Talk are supported by Bookwire (www.bookwire.de )

The full Global 50 report, with the big list, an analysis and data rich company profiles will be available as a digital publication of around 250 pages from mid October 2023 at www.wischenbart.com/ranking , and at websites of Bookwire, Bookdao, Livres Hebdo and Publishers Weekly.

Beyond Publishers

What we often miss, when speaking about the “Book Business”

A research project by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting 2023

When researching the Global 50 Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2022, I realized that this survey on the biggest actors in the international publishing business has major blind spots. Their scope and relevance is expanding. In 2022, Amazon’s payout from Kindle Unlimited to small presses and authors alone added up to half a billion US dollars.

Over the past decade, the traditional value chain of authors or agents > publishers (as gatekeepers) > distributors > bookshops > consumers and readers has been replaced partly by an increasing variety of different models.

It began with self-publishing services like Amazon’s Kindle Direct, with a focus on just a few niche genres like romance or fantasy. Strongly performing bestseller authors got more entrepreneurial, using publishers and distributors just as providers of services. Authors’ writing hubs evolved into cross-media hubs, rebranded as “studios” for generating industrialized serialized storytelling. Publishing corporations figured out how to tap into such environments for discovering and fostering new creative talent. Today’s ebook and audiobook platforms have by and large abandoned selling books altogether, and instead provide consumers with services for accessing a huge library.

From a bird’s-eye view, the business of books operates less and less as a linear “value chain”. It resembles more an open sea, with a few major continents, plus lots and lots of islands and archipelagos of various sizes and shapes.

Beyond Publishers” is a research effort to

  • Map business actors and describe creation and exploitation models, and
  • Develop reasonable estimates of their respective scale and scope.

Questions to be researched in “Beyond Publishers” include:

  • What do we often miss when discussing the „Book Business“?
  • How do platforms like Spotify, Webtoons or Tonies compare to a bookshop?
  • Why, and how, a digital social media like Tiktok inspires the selling of print?
  • How are publishing processes changed with these various new models?
  • How can I measure the scope of such „publishing“ in a „Global Publishing Ranking“?
  • How can we include „self publishing“, „subscription“ or „streaming“ in book statistics?
  • How do we define what is a „book“ today? And why does it matter?

Find out more in the presentation “Beyond Publishers” or watch my talk at Readmagine in Madrid in June 2023.

The full report will be released in fall 2023.

Become a part of our effort!

Be a sponsor, or contribute data, or provide insights with a short questionnaire

Contact for suggestions and questions: office@wischenbart.com
Wien, March 2023

Beyond Publishers

Researching the scope and diversity in non-traditional models in the book business today

Hammering Man in Frankfurt, Germany
Hammering Man
Please help us with some research on the book industry by filling out a short questionnaire! (And receive a small gift).
 
We need your input, observations, and insights to better understand today’s dynamic expansion of nontraditional publishing, book distribution, and marketing models – when authors successfully find an audience without first approaching a publisher or agent, the traditional entry points and gatekeepers to the book business.
 
Today, the publishing industry “Beyond Publishers” is
  • Far more diverse;
  • Much more complex, and also more adaptable;
  • Probably bigger than one might expect.
 
Why is this important?
 
For most of these offerings, we find no concrete data. And hardly anything shows up in the usual book statistics.
 
Therefore we ask you to use this link for filling out a questionnaire with a total of just 3 questions (in German or English).
When done, we’ll offer you a surprise gift!
Thank you very much!

CEOTalk2022-EN

Global 50 CEO Talk 2022 "Beyond Publishers": Ashleigh Gardner and Michael Tamblyn on "New facets of the global book business today."

The Global 50 CEO Talk 2022, held in partnership with the Frankfurt Book Fair Studio on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, from 14.00 to 15.00, will explore the book business beyond traditional publishers.

In recent years, the novel ways of how authors exploit their intellectual property (or IP) have opened wide and highly productive fields of creation, radically expanding what books, publishing and reading encompasses today:

  • Authors are building critical communities of readers online;
  • Well established bestselling authors are going ‘direct’ by publishing their books themselves;
  • Cross-media exploitation intertwining books, movies and games have expanded;
  • Industry sized cooperations between digital platforms and retailers have become well established practices;
  • With the success of graphic novels and manga, traditional boundaries between gernes of narrative fiction have blurred;
  • New business models have surged, including freemium and subscription, curated access to collections and both broad as well as highly specialized niche collections of titles.

This year’s CEO Talk will shed light on the game changing dynamics resulting from these non-traditional publishing models and explore the opportunities with thought leaders from two of the world’s largest platforms in this regard:

  • Ashleigh Gardner (Wattpad WEBTOON, Canada/Korea), and
  • Michael Tamblyn (Kobo Rakuten, Canada).

The Global 50 CEO Talk is prepared in conjunction with the Global 50 Publishing Ranking of the publishing industry, mapping the 50 largest publishing corporations each year since 2007

This ranking is listing the world’s 50 largest publishing companies, who in 2021 generated publishing revenues of 58.8 bnEUR in 2021 (66.7 bnUSD).

The Global 50 Publishing Ranking is researched by Ruediger Wischenbart Content and Consulting, and published by Bookdao (PR China), The Bookseller (UK), buchreport (Germany), Livres Hebdo (France) and Publishers Weekly (US).

The Global 50 Ranking and CEO Talk are supported by Bookwire (www.bookwire.de )

Ashleigh Gardner (Wattpad WEBTOON Studios)

About Ashleigh Gardner (Wattpad WEBTOON Studios):

As Senior Vice President, Managing Director Global Publishing, Ashleigh Gardner works with writers and publishers around the world to turn stories and digital comics from Wattpad and WEBTOON into books and graphic novels. Under Ashleigh’s leadership, the Wattpad WEBTOON Book Group is reshaping the publishing industry by leveraging data and insights from the one billion uploads that have been shared on Wattpad to find future best-sellers. In addition to publishing stories under the Wattpad Books and W imprints, Ashleigh sells translation rights, creating global imprints in partnership with some of the leading publishers around the world. 

 

Michael Tamblyn (Rakuten Kobo CEO)

Michael Tamblyn, President and Chief Executive Officer at Rakuten Kobo, drives growth, profitability and international expansion in a fiercely competitive market. He combines a passion for reading with a deep focus on hardware and software experiences. In addition to leading Rakuten Kobo, the global digital bookseller, he advises start-ups focused on aging and technology as Chief Entrepreneur of Age-Well NCE, is on the board of directors of the Law Commission of Ontario, Ontario’s law reform body, as well as The Power Plant, Toronto’s foremost contemporary art gallery. Michael has been a part of Rakuten Kobo’s executive team since its inception in 2009, and previously held the role of Chief Content Officer. He holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Western Ontario.

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