Frankfurt Fellowships: Karla Kutzner of Germany’s InterKontinental

In News by Porter Anderson

A Frankfurt-Paris Fellow, Karla Kutzner is the founder of Berlin’s InterKontinental publishing house with a bookstore and festival.

Karla Kutzner. Image: Jörg Kandziora

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

The Paris-Frankfurt Fellowship
As many Publishing Perspectives readers know, Frankfurter Buchmesse each year welcomes participants in grant and fellowship programs, all designed to encourage international collegiality, professionalism, and perspective among their participants. Those chosen to take part are early-to-middle career people in publishing—according to each program’s makeup.

You can learn more about all of Frankfurt’s fellowship and/or grant programs here.

In the program we hear from today, the Paris-Frankfurt Fellowship, young booksellers and publishing staffers complete a two-week training program between France and Germany. Professional capacity, language capabilities, and intercultural skills are acquired through practical seminars and study trips to both countries.

Earlier in our series, we heard from another Paris-Frankfurt participant, Wendolyn Trogneux of Éditions Albin Michel in Paris. We’ve also had an interview with Nash Format’s Roman Skliarov in Ukraine, who works in policy and political books as well as helping to organize the Kyiv Book Fest.

Today, our readers interested in the development of books for film and television will be glad to know that Karla Kutzner has been named the new coordinator of the Books at Berlinale program.

Karla Kutzner, InterKontinental, Berlin

Publishing Perspectives: What is your work like at InterKontinental?

Karla Kutzner: I work at InterKontinental primarily as a publisher. We’re a small team that runs a bookstore, the annual three-day African Book Festival Berlin and a publishing house.

My partners and I are a well-coordinated team and are used to dividing and delegating the work. For example, all three of us acquire manuscripts, moderate book talks, and bring in new projects, but further steps of the work are well divided.

As an independent publisher, I’m a project manager, editor, proofreader, financial manager, and depending on the project, sometimes mediator. We also work with many freelancers such as translators, a wonderful designer, editors. And of course, I wish a had more time to read.

Publishing Perspectives: What are the main challenges you see in the Germany market today for publishers?

Karla Kutzner: I see two big challenges, especially for independent and smaller publishers.

First is paper prices and general increases in the price of goods and services–and the balancing act of setting a book price that everyone can afford. And second is distributing our books.

Especially when you’re new to the market, you have to make your way into the bookstores with difficulty and the very established publishing representatives (Verlagsvertreter in Germany are very important) hardly have any new blood and are often already overloaded with other good books they’re promoting.

Large bookstore chains such as Thalia only work with central buyers, which makes it impossible to get our books displayed in these bookstores–a sad development.

Publishing Perspectives: What are the main things you hope to get out of being at Frankfurter Buchmesse this year?

Karla Kutzner: I attend Frankfurt Book Fair every year. This year I’m particularly looking forward to the book-to-screen day on Friday [October 20) and the agents and producers I’ll get to know in my capacity as the new Books at Berlinale coordinator.

I also have important networking appointments with partners for 2024 and of course I’m looking forward to the great indie publishing colleagues and my alumni from the Paris-Frankfurt Fellowship.


A programming note: On Frankfurt Wednesday at Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22), our Publishing Perspectives Forum will feature a discussion with independent publishers. We’ll hear from:

  • Sharky Chen, founder of Comma Books and president of the Indie Publishers Association of Taiwan
  • Tom Kraushaar, publishing director of Klett-Cotta in Germany
  • Sevani Matos, president of the Brazilian Book Chamber in Brazil and general director with VR Editora in Brazil
  • Melissa Wakhu, CEO of Kenya’s Sol Kids Africa

That’s at 11 a.m. on October 18, and as last year, the PP Forum is set in the bright, tree-lined Room Spektrum on Level 2 of the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center. More on the Forum and its programming is here, with information on our speakers and their appearances.

There are more Frankfurt fellowship and grants program interviews in our Frankfurt Book Fair Magazine, which will be distributed on October 18, in print at the trade show and digitally here at Publishing Perspectives.

The magazine has previews of programming from our Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurt including our Executive Talks with Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya and Nanmeebooks’ Kim Chongsatitwana; highlights of key events at the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse; and coverage of Frankfurt’s upcoming guest of honor programs (Italy, the Philippines, the Czech Republic) and this year’s Guest of Honor Slovenia.

There’s also news of literary agents and agencies; award-winning books from guest of honor markets; focus articles on artificial intelligence, sustainability; and a forthcoming effort to get more Korean literature into world markets; as well as 75th-anniversary “Frankfurt Moments.” Be sure to get your copy of the magazine when you arrive at Buchmesse on Wednesday, or download it here at Publishing Perspectives.

More from Publishing Perspectives Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on Books at Berlinale is here, more on publishing in Africa is here, more on the Kenyan market is here, more on international book fairs and trade shows is here, and more on rights trading in international publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.