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Konemann Opens New York Office
Calvin Reid -- 6/29/98
Ralf Daab, CEO of the newly opened U.S. office of Cologne, Germany-based art book publisher Konemann, cheerfully acknowledges that yet another German publisher has positioned itself for the American market. But he's also a bit weary of the recent emphasis on the firm's nationality: "We have offices in six countries. We are an international publisher and now we're a U.S. publisher."
Rated the fastest-growing publisher in Germany by the German book trade journal, Konemann was founded five years ago by Ludwig Konemann, who spent 15 years with German art book publisher Benedikt Taschen, helping to develop its distinctive international publishing program. Konemann's approach is much like Taschen's: both firms solicit sales from around the world and print simultaneously in a variety of languages (up to five at Konemann); print runs generally exceed 250,000 copies worldwide.

Konemann also specializes in large-format illustrated books with high-quality color reproduction at reasonable prices. But, said Daab, Konemann's list (about 100 titles a year in the U.S., with 800 titles in the company's backlist) is broader and (he's quick to point out) there is no erotica. Initially focusing on art, design, architecture and photography books, Konemann has expanded its list to include food, lifestyle, sheet music, hardcover fiction reprints, travel books and more. The firm sells its titles nonreturnable; handles its own distribution from a 20,000-sq.-ft. shipping facility in Port Newark, N.J., with next day shipping to the tristate area.

Konemann has about 70 employees around the world. The firm reported $40 million in sales worldwide in 1997, up an impressive 68% over 1996, and Daab projects worldwide sales of nearly $80 million in 1998. U.S. sales in 1997 were $6 million and Daab expects to double that in 1998.

The company has a partnership with specialty retailer Williams-Sonoma to promote its books, including the forthcoming Culinaria U.S. Specialties, a giant survey of American cooking (350,000 copies initially) due in October. And in early 1999 Konemann will publish a quirky photobook, Drive-By Shootings by David Bradford, a New York City cab driver discovered by Daab after he hailed his taxi.
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