“I know it was only a short time”
As of: 6:01 p.m. | Reading time: 3 minutes
Spectacular news from Hamburg: Florian Illies stops as Rowohlt boss – after only one year. Couldn’t or didn’t he want to be a publisher? About one of the most discussed personalities in the literature business.
GIf there were a price in the publishing world for the most surprising personal details, Rowohlt Verlag would have more than deserved it: On Friday afternoon, the publisher announced via a press release that the managing publisher Florian Illies was leaving the publisher – “at his own request”, as it was said – , “For autumn 2020”.
Now that would not be surprising, it would simply be part of the business if Illies had not just taken up the executive position a year ago, on January 1, 2019. The publisher Barbara Laugwitz, who had been in office since 2014, had previously been fired. Joerg Pfuhl, head of the Holtzbrinck book publishers, to which Rowohlt also belongs, had only sparingly called for Laugwitz at the time: she had “achieved great successes again and again in a difficult market”, and she was very grateful for her “tireless commitment”.
Others in the publishing house had much more in favor of the long-time boss, especially some of the authors who complained about their dismay at Laugwitz’s dismissal in an open letter and saw sexist structures at work. Daniel Kehlmann and Elfriede Jelinek were also critical of the removal of Laugwitz.
The fact that a publisher resigns after just one year raises the question of reasons. So far Illies has only heard that “personal reasons” had motivated him to take this step. He was “deeply impressed by the great competence and love of the Rowohltians for their publishing house (and) sustained by all the encounters with its authors”. He leaves Rowohlt “with a weeping eye”: “I know it was only a short time at the head of this great house. But after careful consideration, I decided to take a different path and devote myself to writing. “
Florian Illies is a successful bestselling author (most recently “1913”, S. Fischer) and on the editorial board of the weekly newspaper “Die Zeit”, which, like Rowohlt, also belongs to the Holtzbrinck publishing group. Illies will therefore remain with the Holtzbrinck Group even after Rowohlt leaves.
It remains open what the move means for Joerg Pfuhl and Stefan von Holtzbrinck, who both promoted the Illies personnel at Rowohlt. Stefan von Holtzbrinck said: “I very much regret Florian Illies’ decision, but I have great respect for it. I would like to thank him from the bottom of my heart for his valuable work at the head of Rowohlt Verlag, for which 2019 was an extraordinarily strong year. Florian Illies will continue to be closely associated with the authors he oversees. ”
Who will become Illies’ successor will be announced in due course, it said from Hamburg.