Future heads© Dorothea Martin and Simone Veenstra© Dorothea Martin and Simone Veenstra

"Das wilde Dutzend"

 “We are passionate about trying out new forms and media of narratives. An award like digivis Contest honours the willingness to take a risk that is associated with it. We think that’s great.”

Dorothea Martin and Simone Veenstra took second place of digivis Contest, which is endowed with 10,000 Euros. The Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises/Project Future launched the contest “Digivis – Making digital contents visible” in cooperation with the German Publishers and Booksellers Association and the regional association of Berlin Brandenburg. The aim of the contest was to find concepts that can increase the visibility of the digital products or applications offered by the creative industry, and in particular the book industry.

Book contents is presented on mobile devices in the form of chat fiction – short narratives in the form of a dialogue. Chatbooks can be used as a marketing activity in social media in order to reach out to young people who read the contents on their smartphones. 

You and your business partner Simone Veenstra took second place at digivis Contest. What does this award mean for you and your work?

First of all, we have been very pleased of course. We are passionate about trying out new forms and media of narratives. An award like digivis contest honours the willingness to take a risk that is associated with it. We think that’s great.

You earn your living with fantasy and imagination…? A very nice idea… Can you explain your business concept in more detail?

We create worlds of stories that are told in multiple media, sometimes in an interactive manner. Within these story worlds, one can also buy books of course. Our first children’s book “Atalante das Meermädchen schwimmt um die Welt” – a reading and colouring book – will be released soon. We also arrange workshops and organize events – from shadow theatre plays to storytelling festivals, whichever fits to the respective story. Furthermore, we have also launched a successful crowdfunding campaign.

You received the award for your project “Chatbooks”. That means: book contents is presented on mobile devices in the form of chat fiction. Is that correct? Who do you want to reach out to with this project?

The idea of chat fiction, which is to tell the stories in form of a dialogue and in a significantly shortened manner, appeals to us in particular as the target group is very young and exclusively mobile-oriented. Chatbooks came up with the idea of telling teasers for ebooks on the most popular chat fiction platforms. We are currently planning to develop the idea further towards so-called chatbots, for example for Facebook Messenger, Alexa etc. Especially in view of our children’s book, Alexa and listening as a medium are of particular interest for us.

How did you get the idea to establish your publishing house? And how did you choose this unusual name?

Once upon a time … Simone Veenstra and I were hiking in New Zealand and when the path simply seemed endless, we were making up stories. When we finally arrived at our destination, we had come up with a crazy children’s story and the idea of publishing it ourselves. Back in Berlin, we participated in the business plan contest Berlin-Brandenburg and got the offer to take over a secret story project instead of the publishing house for children’s books that we had planned – Das wilde Dutzend. According to the legend, “Das wilde Dutzend” is a lodge that has been operating for centuries and that collects the true stories behind the actual story. Our books are fed from their archive, for example “Die Guten, die Bösen und die Toten”, which is set in the Victorian period or in London shortly after the time of Jack the Ripper; “Wer kann für böse Träume?“

Your publishing house acts outside the medium of the book and uses social networks. Can you explain this in more detail?

Each book is integrated into the background story of “Das wilde Dutzend”. How did the lodge find the material that was included into the book? In a pen&paper (role play) format called Adeles Salon, we reveal the background story, but also in a storytelling format on Twitter (#24hGrimm), in theatre and exhibition formats, augmented-reality scavenger hunts or audio plays. Besides, we use social media channels to look behind the scenes of our publishing work and to draw attention to our books. 

What are the benefits for the reader/user?

Readers can simply take pleasure in the beautifully designed books or follow the traces left in the books and play an active role in our world of stories.

Where do you see books, bookshops and libraries in ten years from now?

One major benefit for the libraries is that they already provide an open space due to the support by the state. In urban centres, they offer the people a space free of consumption – a meeting place in their respective neighbourhood, but also in the midst of downtown areas. Libraries often provide various kinds of media and internet access – I am a big fan of libraries. In this context, the book is no longer the key medium to tell stories with, to absorb them or to educate ourselves. However, it will remain important as a source of reference, in a self-contained and datable format and therefore I hope it will preserve our exciting landscape of bookselling.

Where do you see your publishing house in ten years from now?

We will continue to try out new forms of storytelling. The business model will change accordingly.

What book is currently on your bedside table?  

Not just one book. I am among those who always read multiple books at once. Currently, I am reading “Mädchenmeute” by Kirsten Fuchs, and for the second time “Das siamesische Klavier. Unheimliche Geschichten” by Christiane Neudecker and “Unthinkable. An Extraordinary Journey Through the World’s Strangest Brains” by Helen Thomson. 

You live in Berlin – what do you love about the city?

The diversity and openness of the city. I hope that it will be able to maintain its free spaces or create new ones.

What changes must occur, in particular for publishers?

A lot of funds, in particular cross-media funds, are only available for filmmakers. This slightly reduces the eagerness to experiment, that’s why digivis Contest has been an excellent opportunity!

Last but not least: Can you complete the following sentence: “Berlin is…”

… Home…”

author
Sylvia Fiedler

Buch- und Pressemarkt

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