If you bring up the subject of the future with German publisher Georg Reuchlein, two topics he's likely to settle on are digitization and discoverability. Reuchlein, who oversees nine imprints at Verlagsgruppe Random House (including Goldmann, Luchterhand and btb), and was named 2014's Publisher of the Year by BuchMarkt Magazine, is always thinking about how technology is reshaping the business...and how to get debut authors on readers' radars.
"Digitization brings risks and chances, and I therefore do not believe we should be intimidated by it," he said. Acknowledging that the thriving self-publishing sector has created a massive shift in the industry, Reuchlein feels that "taking care of authors and their artistic visions...is one of the most important obligations for all publishers."
Reuchlein is bullish on the importance of booksellers in the discoverability equation, and believes his authors need to be found "by book buyers and readers equally." Reuchlein added that building an author from the first book is essential, and though it has become "extremely difficult to build an author in a kind of traditional way," Reuchlein still follows through on may of the tried and true efforts publishers have established over the years.
To that end, Reuchlein said that, aside from online and social media marketing, his team will "still focus a lot on convincing and winning the trade: by advance reading copies, through our sales force, by point of sales displays, author tours and readings."
Of course, for Reuchlein, it all ultimately comes down to the quality of the books themselves. Two books he's excited about publishing this season are memoirs he bought during the busy London Book Fair season. The first is Deborah Ziegler's A Wild And Precious Life, about the author's choice to help her terminally ill daughter end her own life. Reuchlein called the book "extremely moving," adding that it is an "important work" about a hot-button issue.
The other major memoir on Reuchlein's forthcoming list is the one from artist Marina Abramovich. Reuchlein said the deal was done after he and his team read "a long and detailed proposal" which was "utterly breathtaking, electrifying, mind-opening and moving."
With respect to German-originated works, Reuchlein is enthusiastic about Christoph Peters's new book Der Arm des Kraken (The Kraken's Arm), which will be published in the fall by Luchterland. A thriller set in Berlin about a female detective investigating the murder of a Japanese man, he called the book "a kind of Berlin Chinatown."