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Meet Søren Mølhede Hørdum, publisher and one of the founders of Hørdum & Engelbreth, a new publishing house located in the old and colorful Meat District in Copenhagen, Denmark. We sat down for a talk with Søren about publishing visually oriented culture, the process of making their first publication Kashmir Logue Book, selling books and in general the passion for creating beautiful coffee table books.
Hello Søren! Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Walk us through the story of Hørdum & Engelbreth from the beginning till today.
Søren: Well my partner, Martin Engelbreth, and I started the business in August 2012. Martin is my best friend, and we have known each other our entire life. Martin is an auditor and was anxious to try something new, and I was a salesman within the printing industry, and made a living by producing design printed matter and making books. So Martin and I talked about how fun it would be to be your own boss and also have the opportunity to decide what to wear instead of having a boss telling you, for example, to wear a suit, when you much rather wanted to jump in a pair of jeans and your favourite Converse.
We started out our business by making printed matter for advertising agencies and publishing houses, and through our work, we got inspired to make our own books and provide another take on how to make and publish books in Denmark.
The Danish book market has for some time been under pressure. Everybody is running around talking about how terrible it is, and that the printed version of a book is going to die because nobody wants to read printed books anymore, due to technology that has made it possible to convert these into e-books. We would like to show people that this isn’t the case. Personally, both Martin and I roughly spend 20-30 percent of our pocket money to buy design and coffee table books of all sorts by large and small foreign publishers, as we cannot buy these publications from Danish publishers because they do not exist. We want to take advantage of that and make beautiful and passionate publications with a high production budget, to secure a high quality within our work and create an inspiring experience for our audience, based on the fact that we believe people are willing to pay correspondingly more for high than low quality books.
Tell us a bit about the process of making Kashmir Logue Book, from idea to finished publication.
Søren: The first criteria for making a book were that it had to be about Danish culture. We didn’t want to start a Danish publishing house and then publish a book about London for example because the English publishers have already done that. We want to pay tribute to Danish culture and we brainstormed a lot, and then suddenly both of us were saying almost simultaneously, “Kashmir has a very cool visual universe and is a big part of Danish culture.” For those of you that don’t know Kashmir, they are a Danish rock band and we have been following them through most of their career. We have attended lots of concerts, bought their albums and when we’re on tour in the company car, we always listen to Kashmir. Further, another reason for choosing Kashmir, is based upon the bands well thought out universe, with a very courageous and personal approach to design and aesthetic impression, which we find very inspiring and comparable with our own design point of view.
So now we had an idea, and the next step was to contact the band and most importantly figure out how much money we wanted, and we had the opportunity to invest in the project.
We didn’t know the band in person, but luckily we got hold on the lead singer’s phone number, Kasper Eistrup, and then I pressed the call button saying: “Hi, I’m Søren. I would, insanely, like to do a book about Kashmir. I’m not a publisher, I don’t know anything about publishing books, but I think I have a really good idea I would like to share with you.” Kasper grabbed the idea quite quickly, and he told me to book a meeting with their manager, and that he would let him know that I would be calling him.
Next step was a presentation of our products to show them who we were and what we could do. Martin and I had an idea about launching the book in February 2014 because the year and month represented Kashmir’s twenty-year anniversary of releasing their first album. That idea turned out to be impossible due to lack of time and energy from the band and in general having only five months to produce the entire book, it simply wasn’t realistic. We had our first meeting with Kashmir around a year ago, in October/November 2013 and here a year after, we are very much aware that quality takes time, and we have even been struggling a bit to finish everything on time before book release on the 23rd of October 2014.
After that first presentation, I think Kashmir was a bit skeptical about whom are those two young guys from Jutland, who wanted to publish a book about them. But, at the same time, I also think they really liked our energy and could see, based on our budget as well, that we were really serious and passionate about doing this publication.
Describe the process of selecting content
Søren: I think that the book during the process has evolved in many different directions, with changing ideas and designs, because it has been really important to us that the narrative of the book wouldn’t be straightforward and become a memoir of the band. We want the book to be about self-publishing and honest visual narrative about the story of Kashmir.
When going through the book, the reader will experience things that haven’t been published before, which means that you will not be able to write “Kashmir music” on Google, and then be able to find the photos. Maybe you will be able to see a few, but then you need to dig into the photographers’ websites. We have pictures taken of the band up from the stage out over the audience. We have pictures showing Kasper Eistrup’s diaries, which is not something you normally get to sit and look into. The overall look and content of the book must reflect the spirit of Kashmir, since it is important that Kashmir fans also should be able to recognize and experience the universe of what we think is the biggest rock band in Denmark.
Besides Hørdum and Engelbreth and Kashmir – who else have been involved in the making of the Kashmir Logue Book?
Søren: We have been working closely with photo editor Tom Tramborg. He is director at Getty Images and knows everything about image rights and images in general. He has been great support and a very important advice-giving partner for us in this project.
Kashmir’s preferred graphic designer, Nicolai Bejder, has been responsible for all the design, which was a requirement for doing the book. He is a very talented graphic designer and works very closely with Kasper Eistrup as well.
The collaboration with Kashmir has been based on a dialog about the photos and them providing us with private photos as well, but they haven’t been the editors on the books. Further, Kasper Eistrup has been a part of the process of designing the cover and making sure of the “Kashmir spirit” for the book, but otherwise he has actually remained in the background. It is important to make clear that Kashmir is not the publisher of the book – that it is Hørdum & Englebreth, and that has been very important to make clear for both parties. This publication is a tribute to the work and the cultural impact Kashmir has been doing for the last twenty years, and we can all agree on, that it would look a bit strange if they did a book to tribute themselves.
Which sales and marketing channels do you use at Hørdum & Engelbreth to get your work noticed?
Søren: When releasing Kashmir Logue Book, we didn’t have a specific strategy approach. We had a clear agreement with Politikens Boghal about a book signing session at the book fair in November in Copenhagen. Throughout the process we learned that is was a bit more difficult to sell our work to other bookshops/stores, because they wanted to see the finished publication before saying yes to have it in their bookshops/store.
When launching the book we sent out press materials made by graphic designer, Nikolai Bejder, which established collaboration with the Danish music magazine Gaffa who bought our book for their web shop. But other big bookstores like Arnold Busck and Bog & Ide and other big chains in Denmark wanted to have a physical copy to look through before saying yes to selling it, which came as a surprise to me. Especially because we make business in an industry where there is money-back-guarantee on everything. But now after launching the book, everything starts to move, but we still have a lot of work to do. Moreover, we are using Facebook a lot to promote all of our activities that we want to share with our audience and make them interact with us. So I would say that Facebook is our main social media channel and it is a very effective way to get yourself and your work noticed.
And finally, what will 2015 bring for Hørdum & Engelbreth?
Søren: We have more books in the pipeline, but I can’t give you any specific details, other than I can tell you that we are so far along in the process that I would say we are ready to execute some new publications. Our secretive approach is a conscious choice and we have used it for the launch of the Kashmir Logue Book. Throughout the process, it has only been a closed circle of people who knew that there was a Kashmir-book on the way. It’s not something we’ve been running around and calling out, rather we have been throwing small clues out, here and there, which have been a fun and interesting process to be part of, because people get curious and want to know more and get really excited when more clues are released. Moreover, I can say that the format of the books always has something exceptional about them. It has to be delicious paper and there must be many pages, which means that our books will be within the higher price range of the Danish book market. But this is what we like and what we think is exciting to work with. Since the release of Kashmir Logue Book, we have said no to several authors already that have contacted us and offered us to publish their books. The reason for saying no is that the inquiries have been based on text and not visual releases, which is not the concept we are going for, even though it could turn out to be a good business for us, it is important to hold on to our vision about creating beautiful visually culture orientated publications that reflect passion for the chosen subject.