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Cooking up Books

The Start-ups Bookbakers and Scriptbakery want to revolutionize publishing

Freiburg, Apr 12, 2019

A two-part project Bookbakers/Scriptbakery has been founded by the Department of German at the University of Freiburg with the aim of bringing together publishers with crowdpublishing authors. The team hopes the start-ups will involve new target groups in the production of books and simplify the process of publication.

A start-up from the University of Freiburg’s Humanities Faculty is bringing a breath of fresh air to publishing. Photo: Bookbakers

The path from a manuscript to a finished book is long and hard. Many authors despair at the high cost and lack of efficiency involved in cooperating with publishers. A spin-off from the Department of German at the University of Freiburg wants to offer them hope: the crowdpublishing service Bookbakers helps publishers and authors to build up a brand and establishes contact with readers who can play an active part in the creation and publication of a work. Through the process of digital change, the platform enables a more open and direct relationship between producers and consumers of publishing.

Scriptbakery is a tool that receives manuscripts and manages them using artificial intelligence. Authors input all data of relevance to a publisher in an online form and upload their documents. The program analyzes the text and prepares the results in visual form for reading. Manuscripts can be received and processed far faster using the form than when sent by e-mail or post.

The project is being run by students and graduates from the University of Freiburg, the Technical University of Dresden and the Université Aix-Marseille, France. The founders Géraldine and Jonas Navid Al-Nemri worked together on an interdisciplinary project to combine crowdfunding and the business of literature when they were taking degrees in German Studies and Theology. “To test our ideas on the open market we established the kladdebuchverlag publishing house. This gave us ‘Proof of Concept’,” explains Jonas Al-Nemri.

From the department to the office

Their colleagues Lisa Helmus, Tony Franzky and Dominic Lammert have professional experience in publishing houses, editorial teams and software development. The Scriptbakery was originally developed as part of the Bookbakers platform. However it worked so well that the team decided to continue it as an independent product.

The start-up is receiving an EXIST grant from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) from January to December 2019 – in other words funding of more than 135,000 euros. Amongst other things, the money will be invested in servers for artificial intelligence and the general infrastructure. Dr. Harald Baßler from the Department of German is helping the team on its cooperation with the university, networking with relevant bodies, and even provides office space. The Freiburg Founders’ Office noticed the students and graduates and is guiding them through negotiations with investors and refining the business plan. It also offers them contact with experts.

More opportunities for newcomers

The projects’ paying clients are mainly publishers, however young authors also benefit from the concept. Both products, the young entrepreneurs hope, will simplify the publication of texts, minimize risks for publishers and encourage them to publish even more talented newcomers. “We are making crowdpublishing useful to the entire publishing and book industry,” Dominic Lammert enthuses. The team especially enjoys working with students. Géraldine Al-Nemri is particularly proud that it is one of the few German start-ups with a background in languages and humanities that qualified for the EXIST grant, “Many students in our fields simply can’t imagine founding their own business. We want to inspire others with our entrepreneurial spirit.”

In the future the team wants to reach more users and grow successfully so they can realize new projects. They believe their offering will ensure greater diversity in the publishing industry. By using the available analytical tools publishers can focus more on the interests of readers and not need to rely so much only on the intuition of editors. Manuscripts could be sifted in different ways, hidden potential uncovered and new narrative forms tried out without a high risk.

 Patrick Siegert


Bookbakers and Scriptbakery

Founders’ Office of the University of Freiburg