News | Penguin Random House | Munich, 07/25/2022

Goldmann Celebrates Its Centennial

This year, Goldmann, a German publishing house founded in 1922, celebrates its 100th anniversary. For its centennial, the publisher is rewarding itself with a relaunch and a new focus on nonfiction, among other things. Its author roster includes such well-known names as Michael Robotham, Elisabeth Herrmann, Joy Fielding, Donna Tartt, Lucinda Riley, Elizabeth George, Richard David Precht, Bill Bryson, Wladimir Kaminer, and Michelle Obama.

The Munich-based publisher Goldmann is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a relaunch, a new focus on nonfiction alongside fiction, captivating literature – and a trio of women at the helm. From the Weimar Republic to the Internet age: for a century, Goldmann has accompanied readers, told compelling (hi)stories, released some remarkable highlights, and kept realigning itself. “That’s essentially what this is, too,” explains publisher Grusche Juncker, one  of Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe’s Managing Directors in Munich. “A centennial is a perfect time to pause and become aware of – and show others – who we are and where we want to go.”

The publisher doesn’t need to reinvent itself, she adds. “The idea is to stay relevant and contemporary, to adapt to the dynamics of the present” – so that Goldmann can continue to be in the future what it has been in the past: “A house of diversity, whose team brings expertise and passion to their work. With books that engage, move, advise, and inspire people. That take up debates and hopefully spark them as well. And, which I think is also important in our complex, stressful times, ones that enable small escapes from the daily routine and send readers on a journey.” 

‘Face of the Frog’

Crime novels have always enjoyed high visibility at Goldmann – “Der Frosch mit der Maske” (Face of the Frog) was a success story from the start: Its author Edgar Wallace played an important role in the publishing program from the 1920s to the postwar decades. Michael Robotham, Elisabeth Herrmann, Joy Fielding, Ingeborg Drewitz were added to the roster, as were Donna Tartt and Lucinda Riley, Elizabeth George and Andreas Gruber, Richard David Precht and Bill Bryson, Julia Engelmann, Wladimir Kaminer, and Michelle Obama, to name just a few.

The company’s eventful history began on June 21, 1922, when Wilhelm Goldmann founded his publishing house in Leipzig. In 1950, he left the GDR, relocated his company to Munich and concentrated on the paperback segment – initially with a focus on suspense as well as classics of world literature and contemporary fiction. By the time Wilhelm Goldmann died in 1974, his publishing house had published 2,900 hardcover and paperback books, which together had sold more than 100 million copies. Bertelsmann took over in 1977, and today Goldmann is part of Penguin Random House Verlagsgruppe. It is one of the highest-selling trade publishers in Germany, especially in the paperback segment.

Today, 92 employees produce around 350 new titles a year – with a trio of women at the helm: Publisher Grusche Juncker, Publishing Director Fiction Andrea Best and Publishing Director Nonfiction Stephanie Taverna. “Having a trio of women wasn’t planned, and of course it’s not set in stone,” says Grusche Juncker. “But in an industry environment where women predominate, it’s only logical that today’s leadership positions are no longer automatically in men’s hands. However, the crucial thing is that we’re a team – one that complements each other perfectly.”

Close contact with the readers

Grusche Juncker sees today’s Goldmann as open and in tune with the times – in terms of both content and process. To fine-tune this, she  brought Stilbezirk, an agency from Nuremberg, on board for support. The result: “Our appearance has become more personable, more emotional, more approachable.” By this, the publisher means closeness to the readers, which can – and must – be rethought in this age of social media. “As a publisher, we want to be close to readers, we want to make it clear that we love every single book and are committed to every single author. And we want to engage with our audience, get an even better sense of what they’re looking for and need.” The logo has also been overhauled. The traditional Goldmann lettering, on the other hand, remains. “It stands for our tradition and our professionalism: care, attention to detail, and a great deal of experience,” says Juncker. The picture component of the old logo was replaced: “A hand-drawn image that reveals the unconventional element that defines us.” 

New nonfiction highlights

Today’s Goldmann also means that, alongside fiction, nonfiction is being given more space and weight – that was Stephanie Taverna’s brief when she joined the publishing house in 2018. “We’re talking about entertainment at the highest level of informativeness,” emphasizes the Nonfiction Publishing Director. “Our titles don’t get shelved unread; we make nonfiction that people live with, on all of life’s important questions.” Goldmann will now publish Nonfiction, as it has been publishing fiction, in three formats: In hardcover, in the newly added paperback format – and in its pocketbook program. “Goldmann’s hardcover nonfiction program most recently was represented by Richard David Precht and Bill Bryson in particular. We’ve expanded the spectrum to include strong women’s biographies such as ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama and ‘One Life’ by Megan Rapinoe, and are intensively exploring societal changes,” concludes Taverna. “Compelling knowledge around the topics of history, politics and research rounds out our program.” 

New since fall 2020 is the nonfiction paperback program. “Spiky” is what the Gold Women affectionately call it. “By that we mean, among other things, more provocative books by new voices,” Taverna explains. There is space here for important contemporary issues – the transformation to digital, veganism, and feminism all feature in the program. In addition to successful licensed editions from other publishers, the paperback program now also includes many original editions by German authors. The focus of the “Body, Mind & Spirit” section continues to be on spirituality and esoteric topics. 

Great reads 

Today’s Goldmann: “Of course, it also includes moving stories,” says Andrea Best, Publishing Director Fiction. “Especially in hardcover, we place an emphasis on non-interchangeable, distinctive stories. Lately, and of course in the anniversary year, with an increased focus on German-speaking authors.” These are stories to read for pleasure, but also with a claim to relevance: “We pick up material that we’re convinced is important to readers and will stay with them for a long time.” In addition, there is humor and suspense to gain some distance from the daily grind. “We’re open to crime fiction in a variety of facets: from cozy crime to psychological thrillers – and in our anniversary year, we couldn’t resist,” says Best: “Der Frosch in der Maske” (“Face of the Frog”) is being reissued with the original cover design – featuring crime master Edgar Wallace with tongue-in-cheek nostalgia. “The Wunderraum imprint rounds off Goldmann’s overall image with gift books,” explains Andrea Best. “Here, we want to deliver a special touch in a bibliophile look and feel, stories that warm the heart.” 

Anniversary Kick-off at the Lesehotel (Reading Hotel)

Bookstore and other marketing activities will take place throughout the anniversary year 2022 – the anniversary kick-off event was already held on May 19 at a very special location: the Lesehotel (reading hotel) on Lake Hallstatt in Austria. “The hotel connects readers, publishers and booksellers – a concept we are happy to support,” explains publisher Grusche Juncker. Goldmann has very high visibility there. Besides the cozy little Forest Room for guests looking for tranquility and self-awareness, Goldmann also stocked the “Glacier Suite” with books. As for the future of the publishing house, Juncker says: “House of Diversity doesn’t mean ‘general store’ – our range is handpicked, in other words: carefully selected and precisely adapted to the needs of our readers. What does the future look like? My vision is that Goldmann Verlag remains true to itself and preserves its strengths as a home and sounding board for authors, and a creative workplace for employees. That we remain open, in motion, alive, always searching for the perfect connection between readers and the content of our books. And that Goldmann retains its sustainable nature – so that we can continue to create reading moments and celebrate successes in the next hundred years as well.”