Five women want to change the publishing industry. And they want to do so with their own publishing house &Töchter. Our author Ayla Amschlinger met the publishers as part of a Hero Story for XPLR: MEDIA. The conversation about digital literary mediation and the future of books was captured with analog photography - and thus forms a contrast to the digital concept of the modern publishing house.

The publishing industry is highly competitive. This has not deterred the five friends Laura Nerbel, Lydia Hilebrand, Jessica Taso, Sarah Zechel and Elena Straßl. Since 2019, Munich has one more independent publisher. With &Töchter, the book scholars realized their study dream:

Portrait of Elena Straßl

"First and foremost, we founded ourselves as a book publishing company out of a love for books, because we wanted to produce and sell books. But we knew from the start: A very classic approach to book publishing doesn't suit us. It has to be more digital."

says Elena Straßl, who is responsible for events and sales at &Töchter.

Digital concepts, innovative marketing approaches and sustainable book production - that's how &Töchter wants to meet the zeitgeist: "The addition behind our name 'Verlag und mehr' stands for the fact that we present ourselves by other means. For example, with a podcast and a series of events," explains Straßl.

With these offerings, &Töchter is entering a market in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach readers. Consumer habits have changed fundamentally in recent years: A huge range of content on many different platforms ensures that attention spans are diminishing. Media is often consumed on the side. "The fact that readers are being lost is a very present topic in the publishing industry, and has been for the last ten years. You have to be careful not to create a feeling of 'us versus the rest of the world' in the literature business," says Elena Straßl.

Portrait of Laura Nerbel

At the same time, social media is buzzing with activity: Where book bloggers used to steal reviews from the feuilleton, bookstagrammers now post under the hashtags #instabooks and #bookstagram. The book community organizes itself, exchanges information about new releases or holds online book clubs.

"The most important thing for publishers is to open up and collaborate with other media formats as well."

Laura Nerbel

  • Laura Nerbel, Lydia Hilebrand and Elena Straßl in staircase

&Töchter is not only digitally active when it comes to bringing literature to life. With their "rauschen&Töchter" series of events, the five women put on literary events that have little to do with the classic water glass reading - and thus reach completely new target groups: "One of our first events took place in a boxing studio in Munich, with an audience of over 90. For a reading with mainly unknown authors, that is absolutely not a matter of course. The team and the members of the boxing studio were also there, all in tracksuits. They sat very quietly and listened to the readings. For us, that was a confirming moment that our concept works," says Lydia Hilebrand proudly.

Portrait of Lydia Hilebrand

"As a publisher, you finally have the chance to address the end customers and readers directly through social media. Otherwise, there's always a bookstore in between."

Lydia Hilebrand

Read the full article online at XPLR: MEDIA.