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Colin Lovrinovic at 2014 StoryDrive Asia (Photo: CY. Schmidt)

Open to new digital challenges – an interview with Colin Lovrinovic

Kathrin Gruen, November 30. 1999

Colin Lovrinovic is head of International Digital Sales & Marketing with Bastei Entertainment. Bastei Lübbe is one of the first German companies to offer original and innovative content specially produced for English and Chinese-speaking countries. The striking thing about this is that a lot of that content is also written by local authors, for example Cherringham – A Cozy Crimes Series, which was developed by an English-American writing duo.

Mr Lovrinovic, what experiences have you had with this new sales form? And what projects are you planning for the Chinese market?

We are planning to establish ourselves outside Germany for the long-term. At the moment, our focus is on the English and Chinese-speaking markets, but soon we’ll also be publishing our first products in Brazil and Spanish-speaking Latin America. This is producing an exciting mix, in terms of content. On the one hand, there are some great German authors whose material we are translating for ourselves into new languages; on the other hand, we are taking an individual approach to each of the new markets, and we want work there with partners and authors on the ground. Cherringham is one example of this. The original series was written in English, and it has already received some very positive reviews. But the English relaunch of our Jerry Cotton series, “Cotton FBI”, went similarly well – even making it to “E-book of the Week” in the British newspaper The Sun. Ultimately, I think it’s just about great content that interests the readers.

We are just in the process of translating 20 apps for the Chinese market, the first of which we’ve already launched. For instance, the first app from our “Laura’s Star” series has already reached third place in China’s list of most popular iPad apps. We have the support of a local partner for the publication and marketing. At the same time, we’re also working on the translations of suitable content from our portfolio and assessing new material by Chinese authors. And on top of that, we’re currently involved in negotiations to purchase a large number of rights. The outlook is definitely exciting!

Before joining Bastei Lübbe in October 2013, you had worked in the digital marketing departments of Amazon, Universal Music and Red Bull, and most recently you were responsible for the global licensing business with the Cologne-based streaming service Simfy. What is it that attracts you to working in a publishing and media house like Bastei Lübbe? What role do you think publishers will play in the future, and what kinds of products should they develop in order to be successful internationally?

The publishing industry stands on the cusp of an incredibly exciting period of upheaval, full of potential and opportunities. Bastei Lübbe is approaching the new digital challenges with a very open mind and, in my opinion, is very well equipped to grasp the opportunities. I am very enthusiastic about our content – and also about the new ways in which we’re going to design and sell our products. It will be essential to get the right balance between apps, e-books and audio content – often in several languages – if we are to establish ourselves abroad. As an example, we publish our apps as standard in six languages, and will add more to this in the near future. It’s still not possible to predict entirely what role the publishers and their storytelling competence will play in the apps sector in the future, but I’m certain it will be a big role.

In your session at StoryDrive Asia you are going to talk about international co-production. What – in a nutshell – are the two most important rules that content producers must observe if they want to tap in to a new market?

That’s just it: co-production is the crucial point. Local expertise and market knowledge are the most important things. There’s no point in just dumbly translating your content into a new language, then hoping the rest will take care of itself. The rules of the game differ in every country; you need team players on the ground with whom you can achieve success together. Not only does the content need to be right, but also the marketing, PR and sales strategy. In all of these things, you can and should benefit from local knowledge.

Thank you very much for the interview.