Small Publishers

German Books Buck the Digital Trend

Inci Bürhaniye (auf dem Foto links) und Selma Wels. Source: Binooki Verlag / Stephan Pramme
Inci Bürhaniye and Selma Wels.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Despite low profit margins, small publishing companies continue to disrupt the publishing world one book at a time, introducing new authors and foreign genres.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Some 70 percent of the German book market’s $5.5 billion annual sales are made by the 23 largest publishers.
    • While e-book sales skyrocketed 1,260% between 2008 and 2010, the real paper book publishing industry is still afloat.
    • Membership of The German Publishers and Booksellers Association has grown over the past five years.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

Inci Bürhaniye often exits her office, leaving her sister and business partner Selma Wels to take care of things at Binooki, their two-person publishing house. The small outfit has one window, two desks, and rows and rows of binders, some of which have been shifted into the hallway, which belongs to Ms. Bürhaniye’s law firm.

The sisters launched their Turkish literature publishing house in Germany five years ago, introducing Turkish books to German readers. Binooki had its own office in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district but given the tough trading environment, it was forced to move.

Like other small German publishers, the sisters are fighting an increasingly digital world. Around the globe, screens have replaced paper and popularity is typically measured in clicks. In 2014, the German book publishing market made about €9.5 billion ($10.4 billion), not even a fifth of what Google generated that same year.

Bookstores are shutting around the world and publishers are throwing in the towel, but, despite our screen-based culture, sales figures are surprisingly stable. Every year, hundreds of thousands of books are published and young book-lovers continue to found small publishing businesses.

The German Publishers and Booksellers Association has 16 more members this year than it did five years ago. But what are these booksellers doing to buck the digital trend?

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