Munich: Hugendubel kicks off the “Bookstock” reading festival – Munich

Just over eight years ago, the traditional bookstore chain Hugendubel was on the verge of collapse. Weltbild Group, the trading partner at the time, has filed for bankruptcy. Hugendubel’s management responded and received advice from Porsche Consulting, among others. The goal should be to provide more time for employees to deal with customers. What seemed trite gave more weight to talking about books. This is how ‘Bookstock’, the reading festival format, that celebrates suspense, romance and fantasy this weekend came to be online and in the Bavaria studios.

“We noticed the active exchange in branches and social networks and wanted to give it a new and modern look,” explains managing partner Maximilian Hugendubel on stage, an hour and a half before the start. Studio 6 has 180 seats, all fully booked, and groups of people are already energized in front of the door. The fact that the target group is a small audience does not have to be explained to the manager first, and this can be known by looking at the marketing. “Reading is in keeping with popular culture,” “casual comfort,” “retro flair,” and “great insights into bookmaking.” It wouldn’t be a literary quartet, that’s very clear. A food truck, soft drinks and soft pop music is available on site, and if you miss the festival vibe at home, you can order the festival kit (€29.95) including vegan porridge, dried strawberries, and a recycled shirt. Everything a young, sustainable and hip educator needs. Festival kits are the only thing not sold, but the strategists behind “Bookstock” must give credit for realizing that even a reading festival can’t do without sustainable pseudo-consumption.

Most of the audience are women

Visitors, mostly women, seem less interested in capitalist motifs than in books. Amelie just got her autograph, then drunk her book. She and her two friends learned about the festival via Instagram. They say “If you love books, you understand.” Two meters away, four friends can’t stop smiling: “We want to see Ali.” Ali Hazelwood (“The Love Hypothesis”) is one of the authors who speaks on the site and is not just online by default. The atmosphere is similar to the raucous anticipation before the concert, you can’t help but be happy and not disappointed with the talk show which lasted for about 2 hours.

Ben Aronovich (left) was one of the authors who lived in the studio, and others were almost online.

(Photo: Krisztian Miklos)

The broker duo does their job really well. Joker Tarkan Bagci speaks his heart out – the audience loves him – and Mona Ameziane joins the online community in asking the right questions. Amelie and co find out if Tammy Fisher likes one of her books better (“No, but yeah, haha. Newer”), who Madeline Miller’s favorite character is (“Patroclus”) and what music Ben Aronovich writes (“Movie Scores”) . The evening is surprisingly fresh, the authors are likable and in a good mood, and readers can finally get rid of their questions. The humble veneration of people who write, whose autograph he required with bowed heads and muttering compliments, is a thing of the past. The authors write for young people, often become known through Tiktok and maintain an almost intimate relationship with their readers. It seems as if they have known each other for a long time and can finally meet through ‘Bookstock’.

An idea has potential, especially if more authors aren’t just physically connected. You can also work on the “casual comfort” of the studio audience, the seats are solid, the backrests are completely missing, but reading festivals away from book fairs and literature houses can still be a “thing”.

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