Interview with Dr. Jörg Dörnemann, Managing Director of epubli - epubli.co.uk
Feb 16, 2016
Interview with Dr. Jörg Dörnemann, Managing Director of epubli
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What were you doing before becoming the Managing Director of epubli? It has been a long and interesting journey to become Managing Director of epubli. Professionally, I started as a freelance reporter for a local newspaper back in Stuttgart, I had considered becoming a journalist even during high-school. I thought, this business of reporting and creating content is great. You are contributing to culture in a broader sense and you get to know so many interesting people, and ask so many questions. When the time came to decide what I wanted to study, I chose business administration. One of my majors was controlling. However, I didn’t want to be reduced to number crunching. I wanted to grow and extend my skills and move to a broader field – strategy consulting. I thought strategy consulting would give me insights into different companies; and this in turn would be a nice personal learning path. I became a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group in 2001. My first media project with BCG was the merger between the music channels MTV and VIVA. Instead of leaving them with the results of our analysis and suggestions, I was asked if I would stay on and help actually implementing the suggested changes. After working at MTV, do you think there is a difference between the entertainment industry and all the other industries, in the sense of keeping the balance between freedom for creativity and strategic thinking? I think there is a huge difference, also in the book business. At the end of the day, it is story telling. and you can’t tell stories through some spreadsheets with numbers. It is about creative people, great minds and cool ideas. When working with these people, you have to take into consideration that they develop ideas and you can’t structure that process in the same manner you would structure car-production. All you can add to the creative process as a business guy is a little bit of methodology which brings with it some structure. So how did publishing, Holtzbrinck and epubli come into the picture? The funny thing was that I always told people that one day I am going to work at Holtzbrinck. During my studies, I went to a seminar of the Holtzbrinck School of Journalism. They told us about their belief in content and diversity, how Holtzbrinck keeps the company on a very low keynote and lets its products (newspapers, books) shine, already all that sounded very good to me. That’s why when I was offered a position at Holtzbrinck I couldn’t resist. This position in the Stuttgart head quarters gave me an overview of both, the digital portfolio and the digital activities in the “old-school businesses”. I was supposed to improve the connection between the start-ups we invested in, and the classic newspapers, classic science and education magazines. Having had that top-down perspective for a while helped me a lot to adopt to the Holzbrinck DNA as a Network of Entrepreneurs. The birth of epubli
Where did the idea for epubli arise from? In Germany you’ve got to publish your PhD thesis as a book. Having gone through that process, I personally got the impression that scientific publishing in the old-school world, with minimum print-runs of 200-500 was extremely inefficient. I am still unsettled about the fact that I had to pay around £700 back then to get my dissertation published with a classic publisher, who basically did nothing at all. I had to do all the work by myself. They gave me a format template to write my words exactly how they wanted. I sent it to them on paper, got it back with two comma edits (! ), changed those two commas in the word file, printed it out again, sent it again, and then they got it printed. I never received any royalties. It was this personal experience plus some first-hand insights into the Digital Shake-up in the music industry, that made me think: It’s about time for some disruption and disintermediation in the book business. We took the print-on-demand technology of our sister company myphotobook, added the publishing feature to it and turned it into epubli – what we thought publishing should look like in the digital age. I always understood epubli as an idea of using the internet to foster the creation and dissemination of great content. That is why it is a very special project to me. When did you know that you made the right decision, considering working at epubli? It’s two things: First, it comes back to the time we sent our first e-mail newsletter. Only five minutes later, we could see how many people opened it and which links they clicked. It was fascinating to see that it was that easy – discussing it, doing it and then a few minutes later being able to see the results – that was the point where I thought, this is the speed I want to go with. The second moment that showed me I was doing the right thing, was when bestselling business author Markus Albers turned joined us. Being a very insightful and forward-thinking person, he helped us a lot. He helped us spread the word about the benefits that come with self publishing. After that, the literary agents, the ones that always know what is happening in the whole market, started to come to our workshops, asked for meetings and started the first projects. We knew then we had become relevant in the market. What would you say is epubli’s biggest strength? I think it is a combination of know-how, people and network. It’s the fact that we not only have the technology side of things right, but also got a great author care team, the expertise in the online marketing space and in the how-do-you-promote-yourself-space, which gives us credibility with those authors searching for new ways to get their books out. And we have the network to spread the word and promote great content. From an author’s perspective who comes from the science-side and had to pay thousands of Euros to get their book published in the old day, if they are looking at us, they would say,”It is cool, easy to use and I can save money.”
From the literary agent’s perspective, epubli opens up a whole new road to the market. It’s a great add-on to classic publishing. From the team’s perspective, epubli is a fun place to work. 31.05.2013 last revised on: 03.03.2014 • en • Discover , Interviews & Videos
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