Erasmus Mundus MA Euroculture:
Society, politics and culture in a global context

Euroculture meets STEIDL

Have you ever wondered how work and life in one of the world's finest publishing houses looks, smells and feels like?

Well, a handful of Euroculture students was lucky and got a glimpse at all that during a guided tour through STEIDL publishing house last week.

STEIDL is situated in Göttingen's historic centre but is hardly noticed by passers-by. This is a small miracle in its self, as the publisher occupies a large area including printing workshops and guest houses in addition to its rather small headquarters in Düstere Straße.

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The Euroculture group in the STEIDL library

Our tour started in the main house in STEIDL's library, a room filled with copies of all art books STEIDL has ever published. The shelves reached from the floor to the ceiling and were crammed with books, as you can imagine. Claudia Glenewinkel, proud STEIDL employee for over 22 years, gave us an introduction into STEIDL's history, aims and core values. For STEIDL, books deserve a lot of thought, effort and often rather unorthodox means to become perfect and unique pieces of art. This can concern the choice of paper and other materials (old butcher aprons for Lagerfeld), of printing colour ("just the right kind of black"), or the books' format. In order for STEIDL to achieve this perfection in their production, artists whose work is to be published cooperate closely with the publishing house. Included in this is a mandatory visit to the publishing house where they can oversee every single step to the production process. This is only possible due to the fact that at STEIDL, the whole production chain is situated under one roof - a unique characteristic in the world of publishers. And that also makes a guided tour so much more interesting and renders the process of publishing books so much more palpable for visitors like us.

After all our questions had been answered by Ms Glenewinkel, enough pictures had been taken and all of us had been equipped with a catalogue of STEIDL's newest publications, we set off for a tour through the building. From the editing department to the image editing rooms, we went down to the huge and loud printing machines where big piles of paper in different shades of white were waiting to become books. There, we even ran into Mr Steidl himself. The tour ended in the court yard in the very centre of the STEIDL area. By then, the passion of Ms Glenewinkel and the other STEIDL employees for individual and beautiful books had already spread to our group. The wish to work in such a creative and aesthetic environment was visible in every single pair of eyes in our group. So, coming back to the questions at the beginning of the article: Work and life at STEIDL feel like velvety paper and linen book covers. It looks beautiful and smells like sweat from long working hours and freshly printed colour.

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On the balcony with a view on the STEIDL area