William Hagströmer - The Publishing House That Reawakens the Classics
Blog post #1
Describe the idea!
My project is a publishing house that gives classical literature new life through creative and inventive book design. By republishing Swedish classics that have become a part of the public domain in more contemporary and accessible formats, I aim both to generate new interest in these timeless stories and to make an innovative impact on the book market in Sweden.
Who are you?
I’m currently enrolled in the Master’s programme in Sociology at Lund University, having recently graduated with a BA in Comparative Literature and a BSc in Sociology. During my undergraduate
studies, I worked in the management team of student consulting company Lunicore (another part of the LU Innovation family). Before coming to Lund, I studied Art Direction at Forsbergs School of Design in Stockholm.
What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?
Right now, I’m focused on researching authors and works to publish and starting up the creative process together with my cover designer. My goals for the summer are: to finalize the cover design and typography for the first book release, consisting of maybe six books; to create physical
prototypes of the books together with a printing firm; and, to create a web shop where potential customers can pre-order the books.
What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?
I hope to accomplish all the goals I have set up for my project! I feel that it’s really important to have ambitious objectives – even if you only get halfway, you will have gotten far. While my designer is working on the covers, I will be working with the textual and typographic parts of the books. I will also be looking into the more practical and logistical aspects of running a publishing house.
Blog post #2
Tell us what you have done on your project so far during the Leapfrogs time.
Firstly, I have created a concept for the collection of books and chosen authors and works. The debut collection of my publishing house will – rather fittingly – feature the debut novels of four classical
Swedish authors. Secondly, my designer and me have gone through the initial stages of creating the covers. As the business idea for these books is so contingent on design, we have done a lot of consumer and market research – other than the contents of it, what truly makes a good book?
Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?
Since I aim to make the texts of the novels as easily accessible as possible, I am ‘modernizing’ the language of some older novels – something which requires more research than I expected. Changing older spellings to more contemporary ones sometimes leads to changing the author’s rhythm or style, which needs to be given due consideration. Furthermore, the concept development of the publishing house and its debut collection has gone a bit slower than I had anticipated, largely due to our commitment to creating carefully thought-out and innovatively designed products.
What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?
The same ambitious goals will remain though they may not be met before the end of the summer. Having reduced the number of books in the debut collection to four instead of six, my designer and me will prioritize finalizing the covers and internal typography of the books, after which I will set up a web shop for pre-orders. Due to the relatively standardized process of printing pocket books, I do not prioritize creating physical prototypes as highly as before.
Blog post #3
How did you experience the three months?
The past few months have been very interesting and educational. I learnt a lot about how it is to actually attempt to turn your idea into a passion project and a potential business – not just through my own experiences, but also through the insights of other Leapfroggers over the course of the summer.
What has been most difficult and what has been most enjoyable?
I think the biggest challenge has been self-leadership – in hindsight, I wish I had been better at working iteratively and just testing different things out, rather than focusing so much on research. Even though I think academic information is highly important, there is much to be said in favour of gaining practical knowledge.
Will you continue working on your project in the future? If so, what is your next step?
I will definitely keep working! I keep having so many new ideas for this business and now that I have a more practical understanding of my own motivations, I will work harder to finalize all of them. I really look forward to start filling my own shelves with these books that me and my designer have worked so hard on.
What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?
Like I said, self-leadership and a more iterative way of working have been the most important skills I have developed this summer. That being said, I have also learned much more about Swedish literature in general and the craft of publishing in particular. Being able to learn more about the things that I am interested in while working has been a fantastic feeling.
Do you have any tips to other new entrepreneurs?
Test your ideas! One of our workshop lecturers during the summer said something like “the only difference between a person having an idea and an entrepreneur is trying stuff out”, and that really stuck with me. For other daydreamers like myself, I think this is valuable advice. With Leapfrogs and all the other parts of LU Innovation, it becomes so much easier to actually test ideas that would otherwise never be realized, which is such an amazing opportunity.