Club Bertelsmann

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Club Bertelsmann

legal form GmbH
founding Founded June 1, 1950 by Reinhard Mohn as RM Buch und Medien Vertrieb, part of Bertelsmann's club and direct marketing businesses .
resolution December 2015
Seat Rheda-Wiedenbrück
management Christoph Mittendorf, Anita Offel-Grohmann, Dirk Suda
Branch Media (book and music clubs)

The Club Bertelsmann was a company of DirectGroup Bertelsmann . The club emerged from the Bertelsmann Lesering , which Reinhard Mohn founded on June 1, 1950.


Book club branch in Düsseldorf-Pempelfort (2010)

Since there weren't enough bookshops nationwide until after the Second World War, Mohn came up with the idea of ​​using a “reading ring” to bring books directly to the reader. Bertelsmann Lesering already had a million members in 1954 and its success gave Bertelsmann the opportunity to expand its business. In 2005, the club said it had around three million members. The number of members had thus halved since 1992 (six million members).

The club had belonged to Direct Group Bertelsmann since 200 , the business division for club and direct marketing as an umbrella for book clubs in various European countries, which was a 100 percent subsidiary of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA. It was dissolved again as a division in 2011.

In June 2014, Bertelsmann announced that the club, with a current membership of around 1 million, would be discontinued during 2015. The economic importance for the company has steadily dwindled. In 2014 there were only 52 branches. On March 31, 2015, the last two book club branches in Gütersloh and Rheda closed and in June 2015 there were only 600,000 club members.

The online shop was also closed on December 23, 2015.

Working principle

The club issued books as special editions with a time lag compared to the original edition and was therefore able to offer them to its members at a lower price than in the price-controlled bookstore. The framework conditions were specified in the Potsdam Protocol of 1995 and modified again in 2004:

  1. Membership commitment: Membership is an absolute requirement. A customer undertakes to remain a member for at least one year and to purchase at least one product per quarter.
  2. Time interval: The time interval between the appearance of the original edition and the club edition is negotiated individually between the licensing publisher and Club Bertelsmann, but may not be less than four months.
  3. Features: The Club Bertelsmann editions must differ in their appearance from the original editions. That is why they are provided with a redesigned binding, dust jacket or cover.
  4. Possible price difference: If the book is published at least four months after the original was published, Club Bertelsmann can offer the book at a lower price.

In May 2014, customers were served by a network of 59 branches across Germany. They also had the option of ordering products via the monthly catalog or on the Internet. The last branches were closed in the first half of 2015.


In addition to the traditional book business, the range also included numerous other product groups:

  • Music: The club program comprised almost 70% of the current chart CDs. In addition to pre-releases, the club put together its own exclusive compilations.
  • Video, CD-Rom and hardware: The video and DVD program comprised numerous products. In addition, CD-ROMs and games for PC and Playstation as well as the appropriate hardware (DVD player, Playstation, X-Box etc.) were offered.
  • Cooperative Businesses: This included travel, telecommunications and financial products, and electricity.

Since the beginning of 2004, book club customers have also been able to choose from 450,000 German and English-language titles from the regular book trade offer.

Club premieres

In addition to the delayed editions, Club Bertelsmann published around 50 premieres a year that were only available in bookshops on average six months later. The first premiere of a bestselling author was published in 2002 by John Grisham 's Farm . In 2008, The Catalan by Noah Gordon as a club premiere brought to the German market. In addition, works by David Baldacci , Paulo Coelho , Ken Follett , Charlotte Link and Nora Roberts have premiered over the past few years . Authors such as Katia Fox (The Copper Sign) , Linda Holeman (Emerald Bird) and Senek Rosenblum were discovered through club premieres.

Cultural work

Authors' Advisory Board

The Bertelsmann Club set up an advisory board for authors with Walter Kempowski , Tanja Kinkel and Gaby Hauptmann . According to its own statement, the club initially wanted to "introduce popular club authors in the catalog". In the course of time, according to the club, the task shifted “in the direction of promoting reading”. Authors such as Amelie Fried , Thea Dorn , Wolfgang Herles , Wladimir Kaminer , Hellmuth Karasek and Ijoma Mangold have recommended reading tips in the club catalog since 2005 . When Amelie Fried and Ijoma Mangold were entrusted with the moderation for the ZDF literary program Die Vorleser , the two of them ended their work on the authors' advisory board in order, as they said, to “avoid overlapping interests”. Her successors were Susanne Fröhlich , Jenny-Mai Nuyen and Richard David Precht . According to the club, they should “guarantee the continuity of this type of reading promotion”.

Leipzig reads

In 1991 Club Bertelsmann founded the reading festival "Leipzig reads" together with the Leipzig Book Fair and the city of Leipzig. In 2009 over 1500 authors presented their new books on four days of the fair on the exhibition grounds and in 300 different locations in the city of Leipzig. The supporting program includes series of events such as the “Jewish Reading Worlds” and the “Crime Club”. Under the heading “Memory as the present”, contemporary authors put different memories side by side in the “Jewish Worlds”. Writers such as Louis Begley , Saul Friedländer , Fritz J. Raddatz or Senek Rosenblum read from their books and told their life stories.

Crime fans meet on the Thursday and Friday of the fair from 7 pm in the Leipzig district court for the traditional “crime club”.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of German-Israeli relations, Club Bertelsmann and the Embassy of the State of Israel founded the reading series “German-Israeli Relations” in 2005 . Israeli authors such as Amos Oz , Zeruya Shalev and David Grossman read alongside German authors such as Eva Menasse and Gila Lustiger . Students from the German Literature Institute in Leipzig presented current books by Israeli authors under the title "Reading Experiences - Writing Experiences". The series of events was under the patronage of the Israeli ambassador HE Yoram Ben-Zeev.

The blue sofa

The Blue Sofa was launched as a joint authors' forum by Club Bertelsmann, the ZDF culture magazine aspekte , Deutschlandradio Kultur and the Süddeutsche Zeitung . The Blue Sofa presents authors and their books at the book fairs in Frankfurt and Leipzig. In autumn 2005 the Blue Sofa Berlin celebrated its premiere in the Berliner Ensemble .

Book trailer

The book trailer was a competition for young talent aimed at creative students and graduates of film and media courses in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The participants drafted scripts for book trailers of up to 60 seconds in length for a book premiere by Club Bertelsmann. A jury chaired by the film producer Nico Hofmann selected the best three scripts. The students, whose scripts were selected as the best three concepts by the jury, received a limited budget and produced their book trailers on their own.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Bertelsmann gives up its book club. End of 2015. In: . June 17, 2014, accessed January 21, 2016 .
  2. ^ The Bertelsmann Club in Berlin - even more attractive for its members. In: Club Bertelsmann press release. APA-OTS Originaltext-Service GmbH , accessed on January 25, 2010 .
  3. ^ Jan Philip Holtmann: Path dependence of strategic decisions: a case study using the example of the Bertelsmann Book Club Germany . Kölner Wissenschaftsverlag , Cologne 2008, ISBN 978-3-937404-57-8 , p. 228 .
  4. Bertelsmann reorganizes Direct Group's business. In: June 15, 2011, accessed July 17, 2014 .
  5. After 64 years: Bertelsmann closes its book clubs. In: Spiegel Online . June 17, 2014, accessed January 21, 2016 .
  6. Bertelsmann Club is discontinued. Gütersloh turns off the light. In: June 17, 2014, accessed July 4, 2014 .
  7. End of an Era - Bertelsmann Club sends out last book. , December 23, 2015, accessed on December 23, 2015 .
  8. Today the last club branches close - open end. Börsenblatt , March 31, 2015, accessed on December 23, 2015 .
  9. Hajo Hippner (Ed.): Management of CRM projects: recommendations for action and industry concepts . Gabler Verlag , Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-409-12520-5 , Business Model of Club Bertelsmann, p. 456 .
  10. Dieter Ahlert : Multi-channel strategies: concepts, methods and experiences . Gabler Verlag , Wiesbaden 2003, ISBN 3-409-12292-3 , p. 157 .

Coordinates: 51 ° 54 '30.4 "  N , 8 ° 25' 7.1"  E