In the last ten years the publishing house Ankerherz only published 24 books – but six of them are bestsellers. Within a very short time the small publishing house developed into a successful brand name – independent, creative, open and fair. The publishing house communicates with its readers, actively participates in social networks, operates an online shop and its own radio station. All this in line with the motto: the best is just about good enough for us, our friends, customers and companions.
The love of the sea, a feeling for exciting stories and the passion of giving an everyday hero a voice is what has made the publishing house Ankerherz special since its foundation ten years ago. In those days the journalist Stefan Kruecken was looking for a publisher for his captain stories in which 25 heroes of the sea get a chance to speak. They speak of courage and yearning, of trust and friendship. They are impressive stories of wild storms and secret orders, of hours between life and death, of tough sailors and easy girls.
Because nobody wanted to publish such a book, Stefan Kruecken and his wife Julia founded their own publishing house. In Ankerherz books you can read touching stories of people who do big things by doing little things and of those people our media landscape hardly talks about: of nuns or mineworkers, of street children or an entrepreneur who gave up school in order to become a professional football player but everything turned out completely differently.
Tiding Online asked Stefan Kruecken what has made the publishing house Ankerherz so successful and distinguishes it from others.
Mr Kruecken, you and your wife only publish a few but all the more successful books. What is your recipe for success?
We look for honest stories that are romantic and timeless and give other people something. One example is the story about Bobby Dekeyser, an entrepreneur who goes through many ups and downs and whose wife dies in a very tragic way. The tenor of the book is “get on with it – anyone can give up”. It is told in a charming manner that is both heartrending and encouraging. Until today people still write to us and tell us how the book helped them cope in difficult times. That is wonderful.
You do not place any advertisements or buy advertising space in bookshops. How do your books reach their readers?
We have built up a strong fan community that accompanies us on our projects and helps making more and more people become aware about our books, projects and products. In addition, we are extremely active in social networks, take a clear stand on social issues and are committed. This is much appreciated. But first and foremost, it is the unusual stories by people telling us their personal stories. We want to give these people a voice. They deserve respect and appreciation. That is the task of Ankerherz, our DNA so to speak. The radio and television meanwhile report about these books and our approach. We have also been in various talk shows and major magazines write about us.
You tell true stories. However, your books also look different. Do you want to distinguish yourself from others?
People come to us saying that they only confide their story to us. We thank these people and our readers for their courage and trust by engaging only the best authors, graphic designers and photographers. We use paper from the most environment-friendly paper mills in the world in Sweden and print exclusively in Germany. We also take as much time as necessary for each book in order to achieve the best possible result.
You and your wife are responsible for your four children as well as nearly 20 employees. Do you not most of all need to think economically?
Every book carries a certain risk. In order to cushion this we are diversified and create our own little world around our books with matching products and offers. We organize trips, for instance to the islands in our stories or readings and events. We are already so popular that organisations, hotels or companies approach us and want to work with us.
Our commitment and that of our employees aims at creating the best possible product while at the same time being as sustainable and fair as possible. Our customers and companies sense and appreciate this.
Thank you very much for the conversation.