During this years Leipzig Book Fair (smow) hosted an evening of readings by three Swiss authors under the title “Neue Stimmen from Switzerland” and hosted by SWIPS – Swiss Independent Publishers.
Ahead of the readings we spoke with one of the organisations founding members, and former President, Liliane Studer from Dörlemann Verlag about the organisation and its work.
(smow) You’ve been associated with SWIPS since the very beginning, just quickly as background what was the reason for forming SWIPS?
Liliane Studer: The initial idea was to help the smaller independent publishers to achieve a greater visibility and also to create a structure where we could help one another, for example with distribution and marketing co-operations or as here with joint trade fair stands. Until now we’ve only been to fairs in Switzerland, here at Leipzig is our first time outside the Swiss border.
(smow) SWIPS currently comprises 25 publishers – is there a principle focus?
Liliane Studer: Non-fiction is currently the main focus of most publishers but we also have publishers with mixed programmes – so fiction and non-fiction. And recently a couple of art book publishers have joined.
(smow): And how healthy is the Swiss book market at the moment?
Liliane Studer: For publishers it is very difficult when they only concentrate on the Swiss market unless they have a strong regional focus. But then the young authors don’t want to be simply Swiss authors whose books are only sold in Switzerland. We have a large germanophile community and the Swiss publishers need to be active in this area
(smow) And in this sense how important is Leipzig Buchmesse, given that it is your first foray into foreign fields?
Liliane Studer: It’s principally important because Leipzig is a public fair where book reading has a central role. And so the organisers place great importance on the smaller, independent publishers and they’ve been very helpful especially in terms of making sure that we could have so many readings. But also as a small publisher it is important that you are present in those places where book readers are, where one has a public who are looking for new books and new authors.
(smow) Aside from the marketing co-operations, in how far are SWIPS involved with political lobbying?
Liliane Studer: We have very good contacts to the central Swiss Publisher Association and they undertake the political work. But clearly we support them whenever asked.
(smow) A final question. We notice that the stand doesn’t come from Switzerland – but Cottbus. Couldn’t you find a good Swiss furniture producer?
Liliane Studer: It is a Swiss designer. It’s also a very good example of how SWIPS work. Martin Wallimann is a small publisher and SWIPS member who knows a Swiss Architecture professor who teaches in Cottbus. And so Martin asked him if designing a SWIPS stand wouldn’t be an interesting project for his students. He said yes, organised a competition amongst his students. And this is the winner.