Jenny Kühne has worked for IPR License for two years since Frankfurt Book Fair acquired its first share. She lives in Frankfurt but comes to stay in London once a month to work with the rest of the team. She has answered some questions about her role at IPR License, her career so far, and her favourite books and authors.
How did you first get into publishing and why?
As is probably true for most people working in the industry, I am a huge book fan. I learned to read at the age of four and haven’t stopped since. To me it felt natural to make a career out of my greatest passion. I studied Literature and Languages (and Economics) with the goal of becoming an editor – and of course I dreamed of discovering the hottest new talents around. While the latter didn’t quite work out, I did become an editor working for a small academic publisher in Germany after I graduated. The rest is history.
What is your role at IPR License and how has it evolved over the last year?
I am responsible for European Sales/Business Development, but am also part of the PR & Comms as well as the product development team, where I am currently leading one major project. The role (and all of IPR) evolved quite substantially and I am genuinely excited about our technology developments and the potential this company has to really make a difference and support the rights business as much as possible.
The publishers who are signed up as IPR License members produce a variety of books. Can you tell us a little bit about them and highlight a couple who are doing some interesting things right now?
As my focus is on the European market, I want to highlight some of my own clients, of course, who are all renowned German publishing houses, with a great portfolio.
Eugen Ulmer, for example, publishes beautiful books on Cooking, Gardening and other topics. My favourite must be “Wine Tasting”. I am not only a big fan of books but of wine, too.
A title I find particularly intriguing is “Hope” by leading academic publisher De Gruyter. While it is indeed hard to remain hopeful amid the current political developments, I agree with the author that hope, really, is the sense for the possibility of good, and I am encouraged not to give it up.
I don’t know how I would have made it through school and university without the dictionaries and great language learning materials by PONS and Langenscheidt, and I am thrilled to have these publishers as the latest additions on our platform. But looking at their titles does remind me that I really should brush up my Spanish.
What kind of books do you read for pleasure?
I read almost everything. As a girl, I was devouring historical novels and fantasy. Nowadays, I gravitate more towards contemporary literature – the intelligent and mesmerizing Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hanya Yanagihara and Siri Hustvedt are among my English-language favourites right now. On the German side, Robert Seethaler (though he is actually Austrian) and Nino Haratischwili both blew my mind recently.
Do you read on a tablet or kindle? Or are you a print-only kind of person?
I am a mixture, really – I have print books, a tablet and an app on my phone. But I tend to buy the print editions of e-books I really loved.
What is your favourite book of all time, and why?
I find it impossible to choose – any book of the writers mentioned above. And that’s just this year.
If you had the choice of 6 people (dead or alive) to invite to a ‘fantasy’ dinner party, who would you ask? And why?
Georg Büchner – he was a fiercely talented writer and progressive thinker (for his time), who died too young. Would love to hear what he would make of this world.
My great-grandfather – he must have been an exceptional man.
Florence Foster Jenkins – I recently saw the movie (WHY did Meryl Streep not get the Oscar for this?!) and if only half of it is true, this woman is an inspiration.
Lena Dunham – she’s just wow (Also, I’d love to see the men’s faces …).
Zadie Smith – I can only bow before so much brilliance.
Jenny Marx – I was named after her; she must have been an outstanding person.
Not sure they would make for the most harmonious dinner but I am sure it would not get boring.