Jonathan Landgrebe studied in Göttingen, Lyon, Berkeley and Munich and obtained his Ph.D. in Munich in field of economics, political sciences and law. In 2001 Jonathan joined the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM), an interdisciplinary institute of LMU and TU Munich, to build up CDTM as a research institution and study program in digital technology management and entrepreneurship and became co-founder of a company in the converging field of digital publishing. His passion for books and literature and his experience in digital publishing made Jonathan join Suhrkamp, where he has been Managing Director since 2008. His work focuses on literature as well as non-fiction. He also he took over responsibilities for digital publishing at Suhrkamp.
Hybrid Publishing Lab: As part of the managing board you are in charge of the department of New Media. Will New Media decide the fate of publishers, or is the printed book here to stay?
Jonathan Landgrebe: I am convinced that the printed book is here to stay. But apart from this I do not believe that technology will decide “the fate” of our publishing house. If anything decides about the future of a publisher like Suhrkamp, it will be the quality of the writing of the authors that we publish and support in their work. Changes in technology are challenging at times and can have strong economic consequences, but overall they provide new opportunities for authors, publishers and readers.
HPL: What role do books play in the time of information overload? Does a publishing house need to position itself differently than before?
Landgrebe: It becomes more and more obvious that people need credible and reliable sources also in the digital world. Suhrkamp will continue to publish books of the highest standard, print and online. If you buy a book or ebook from Suhrkamp you will always know that it has been published because we believe in its unique contribution to literature, to science or other fields. And it does not matter in this respect whether we are talking about print- or digital publishing.
HPL: Does the development of online publishing differ when you look at your literature series on the one hand, and your academic book series on the other?
Landgrebe: Yes, the developments are very different and it is the first step for a thorough analysis of book publishing today to just talk about one segment at a time. 30 years ago similarities were still much stronger because marketing and sales were much more similar between these segments. This has changed. Overall it is my opinion that the impact of digital publishing in the academic field is much more fundamental then in the field of literature.
HPL: Which book will you always have as an analogue copy in your bookshelf?
Landgrebe: There is a whole range of books I’d never want to miss and I am convinced that my bookshelf will be filled with books all my life. So I am happy that there is no need to think about this.