19 Mar S2 E10: Gunnar Cynybulk on Founding His Independent Publishing House (during a Pandemic)
S2 E10: Gunnar Cynybulk Discusses Founding His Independent Publishing House Kanon Verlag (during a Pandemic)
By Marleen Seegers, Co-Founder of 2 Seas Agency and Host of The Make Books Travel Podcast
March 19, 2021
Welcome to season 2, episode 10!
Today’s guest is Gunnar Cynybulk, who recently founded his own independent publishing house in Germany called Kanon Verlag. Gunnar’s publishing career spans 25 years; previously he was publisher of Aufbau Verlag, and most recently publisher of Ullstein Buchverlage.
Founding an independent publishing house in the midst of a pandemic may sound like a crazy idea…
I wanted to better understand Gunnar’s motivations and decision-making process, and decided to invite him as a guest on this podcast.
You’ll find out during the interview that it comes down to “Eat, Pray, Publish”!
Jokes aside, I was moved to hear that one book in particular played a key role in the birth of Kanon Verlag.
Here are some of the questions I asked Gunnar:
- Was starting your own independent publishing company something that you’ve always aspired to?
- At what point did you decide to go for it?
- How is the German publishing market doing at this moment, almost one year into the pandemic?
- Does the German government offer any (or perhaps more) support for new businesses started during the pandemic?
- What were the main challenges to get started?
- Which ones were related to Covid-19 in particular, and which ones would you have encountered under ‘normal’ circumstances as well? Anything you didn’t anticipate?
- How did you address these challenges?
- What is the ONE piece of advice you have for people who are thinking about starting their own publishing company?
- Can you tell us some more about Kanon Verlag?
- How do you expect the next 5 or so years to unfold?
- You’re also a published author. What is your experience like being on both sides of the fence?
Gunnar’s book recommendations:
Everything from Annie Ernaux and Hannah Arendt (including Eichmann in Jerusalem. A Report on the Banality of Evil; Penguin Classics, 1st edition, 2006)
Gunnar Cynybulk (50) grew up in Leipzig and Bavaria. He was publisher of Aufbau Verlag from 2014 to 2017, and, most recently, publisher of Ullstein Buchverlage (2017 to 2019). In a publishing career that spans 25 years since learning his trade at publishers such as Rowohlt Verlag and Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York, he has championed authors such as Louise Erdrich, Bov Bjerg and Han Kang. His own novel Das halbe Haus (DuMont 2014) was awarded the Debut Prize of the Cologne book festival.