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Fair, good, sustainable… or: what we want to be

Setting up your own company follows its own rules, an immanent logic. It is more about daily survival, fighting doubts and encouraging smiles, more about who pays the next Veggie-Kebab and if you can afford this beautiful property as an office. Most of the time being responsible and good is not the top priority of your list.

We want to do it anyhow. We want to build a new space for creativity, a company which is sustainable and fair and, nonetheless, we want to live of it and be successful in what we do (successful – not rule the global market as a sole power (even though – thinking of it now…)).

So here are some points in which we think we can include our honest idealism in our publishing house.

Fair and cooperative structures: Include the people you are working with!

For us, fair remuneration for our authors and artists means that they get paid for the work before publication as well as for each copy sold. A third pillar ensures that they are integrated into the company in a cooperative way, so will be part of Round not Square’s success as our development will be based on their work.

Sales structures: Count your customers in, they are cool!

The cost structure for normal books is roughly the following: 60% of the sales price goes into retail, 15% are used for production, 10 % are going to the author and 15% are left for editorial work and the editor. This system is barely holding up, everybody complains, all parties are trying to stay in business. Many authors and artists, especially in photography, pay to see their books published, while publishing companies focus on publishing successful books – as these are used to cross-finance the rest of the program.

We believe in a system where you should have more space for art, which in the end means trial and error or the freedom to fail.

We considered different ways to avoid this system, the center piece of our thoughts circling around avoiding classic retail channels and production chains. This again will only be possible with the help of our customers, buying directly from us and allowing us to build something together.

Manufacturing: Building sustainable, responsible and local production processes

Round not Square is designed as a publishing house with an integrated manufacturing process. Our production is set to be on demand. No scroll will be shredded, no book will be lost, no stacks of paper will be wasted. Every book is valuable to the beholder, even if it’s just a handful of people that buy and cherish it. For setting up the production chain and also for choosing our partners and suppliers we include sustainability as one of our main criteria to base our decisions upon.

Production in our format is a huge challenge. While our minds are set on holding as much of the process in our own hands, we are still depending on a few players on the technology side. For our sustainability balance, their will to “go green” and be responsible is therefore quite important. We will try our best, but in the end it comes to that: the more we sell books, the more we can go towards influencing them (off-setting is of course always possible and will be done).

We have made the experience that being fair and sustainable is often about these ideals being integrated in the company’s intrinsic set of values. We want to be different and we want to be good: we don’t want to destroy but to create. We are idealistic but let’s do this!!


Challenge us on it!