Reclam Publishing House

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Philipp Reclam jun. GmbH & Co. KG

legal form GmbH & Co. KG
founding October 1, 1828 in Leipzig
Seat Ditzingen , Germany
management Wolfgang Kattanek
sales EUR 11.7 million (2011)
Branch Book publisher

Leipzig, commercial building of the Reclam publishing house, 1928

The Philipp Reclam jun. GmbH & Co. KG is a medium-sized German publisher. Anton Philipp Reclam founded the publishing house, which is particularly known as the editor of the Reclams Universal Library, in Leipzig in 1828 . The West German branch of the publishing house was founded in Stuttgart in September 1947 and has been based in nearby Ditzingen since 1980 . The parent company was continued under the name Reclam Leipzig until March 31, 2006 in Leipzig. The publishing house has been family-owned since it was founded; in 2007 it employed 133 people.


The Reclam program is divided into three major main areas: the universal library, which accounts for the majority of the publisher's circulation and sales, the hardcover program with reference works on art and culture, non-fiction and gift books, and the paperback program. In addition, the 2013 range was expanded to include the Reclam XL series.

Reclams Universal Library

Publishing directory from 1902
Edition book for the first three volumes of the Universal Library

The most important part of the program for the publishing house or, in the words of the former managing director Frank R. Max, the “heart of the publishing house, that which is what defines the Reclam brand”, is the Universal Library (UB). In the Reclam booklets since the mid 19th century editions of the classics that stand out because of their low price, small size and its uniform design appear. It is the oldest German-language paperback series, and it is based on the endeavor to keep a title, once printed, available whenever possible. The exact number of titles ever published is unknown, but it is in the five-digit range. The post-war edition of the Universal Library was 35 million copies by 2003. From the beginning, the design of the booklet cover was changed several times. This ranges from the title originally decorated with font and ornamentation in Fraktur , to a simplified version on which UNIVERSAL and LIBRARY are written above and below in capital letters, in between the name of the author and the title in italics with serifs , to (at least the GDR issues of the 1970s and 1980s) same design, but with a black background. The dimensions of the booklets have increased from initially 10 × 16.8 cm to 11 × 18 cm.

Reclam's universal library, types 2, 3 and 4
Edward Bellamy 2000 1887.jpg
Edward Bellamy: A 2000 Review of 1887
UB, Vol. 2621, 2622
Reclam ub, Shakespeare, Irrungen.jpg
William Shakespeare: Comedy of Errors, UB, Vol. 273
Reclam Ub, Seume, Sommer.jpg
Johann Gottfried Seume: My Summer 1805, UB, Bd. 736

Since the first series in 2012, the Universal Library has been supplied with newly designed covers that Friedrich Forssman and Cornelia Feyll developed for the Universal Library. The new design replaced the appearance of the UB (Stuttgart edition) designed by Hans Peter and Brigitte Willberg since 1988. The (yellow) universal library has around a hundred new publications every year.

Within the universal library, the booklets are distinguished by a color code:

  1. Yellow: Monolingual editions in German, mostly with notes and a foreword or afterword. This series also includes overview works, for example on German literature, history or philosophy.
  2. Red: Foreign language editions with vocabulary assistance. In English, French, Spanish, Italian, Latin or Russian.
  3. Orange: bilingual editions, German-foreign language.
  4. Blue: Reading key (for students) and working texts, for example short stories for a specific year.
  5. Green: explanations, interpretations, source texts.
  6. Magenta: Non-fiction book on the subjects of politics, history, society, science, art, music and religion.

Reclam hardcover

Reclam also has hardback books. The best-known part of the Reclam hardcover program is the continuously updated music and theater guides , which have been in existence for more than 50 years . Since 2003, the non-fiction books (in the UB format) and larger-format, single-volume reference works can also be recognized at a glance. They are on the market with a newly designed, uniform appearance. The gift book series have been presenting poems, aphorisms and stories for people who enjoy reading since 2003 - the hardcover counterpart to the colorful series of the Universal Library. The Reclam Library series, launched in 2008 , presents classics from world literature with special features. Some of the texts have been re-translated or edited, and some illustrations have been added. The series design by Friedrich Forssman and Cornelia Feyll received the 2nd prize in the 2008 book art competition The Most Beautiful Books .

Reclam paperback

Reclam has also been available in paperback format since October 2007: The Reclam Taschenbuch series offers classics, non-fiction and texts by contemporary authors in a reader-friendly layout, with a new design from the 2nd series in 2015.

Reclam XL - text and context

The new series Reclam XL - Text and Context has been published since 2013 . These new editions for German lessons offer classic texts with commentary, in a larger format (11.4 × 17 cm), but with the same pages and lines as the volumes in the Universal Library. All UB and XL editions as well as the associated reading keys, explanatory volumes and interpretations can be used together.

Reclam Leipzig

Until the beginning of 2006, new fiction and non-fiction authors were published as Reclam Leipzig . A relatively large number of translations by contemporary authors appeared in this series; Well-known publications in the series are Schlafes Bruder , Claudia Schreiber 's Emmas Glück or the books by Sibylle Berg . The non-fiction books include contemporary (social) philosophical texts ( Dirk Baecker , Umberto Eco etc.), some biographies and texts on popular and everyday culture. Titles with the imprint Reclam Leipzig , under which fiction and entertaining non-fiction books were published until 2006, are still available.


The "Literary Museum", founding place of the Reclam publishing house (around 1830)


The history of the publisher is closely intertwined with the family history of the Reclams. These can be traced back to Savoy as far back as the 16th century. In the course of history, Reclams were jewelers, goldsmiths, merchants, booksellers , preachers, scholars or soldiers: Carl Heinrich Reclam (actually Charles Henri, 1776–1844) founded the book trade tradition. His father was still a jeweler of Frederick the Great, Carl Heinrich moved to Leipzig and opened a bookshop for French literature there.

After an apprenticeship as a bookseller and printer in Braunschweig, Carl Heinrich's son Anton Philipp (baptized: Antoine Philippe) succeeded his father. He borrowed 3,000 thalers from his father and bought a lending library, the Literary Museum , on Grimmaische Strasse in downtown Leipzig. Thomas Mann described the place on the occasion of the publisher's anniversary 100 years later: “The so-called museum was actually not a museum, but a dangerously lively place: a place for reading, discussion, and criticism! Where everything went wrong that was defiant to the wrong and pious order in good Leipzig. ”On October 1st, 1828 Anton Philipp Reclam founded the publishing house of the literary museum in his hometown Leipzig. In 1837 Reclam sold the literary museum and called the publishing house Philipp Reclam jun. around. Two years later he bought a printing company . His son later described him as a harsh and aloof supervisor who worked hard and demanded the same dedication from his staff.

In 1839 Anton Philipp bought a commercial printing company on Königsstrasse in Leipzig. His first bad experiences and defaulting debtors with order prints soon let him only print his own works. The first larger editions of the Reclam publishing house emerged. These included Bible editions, Schmidt's French concise dictionary as well as music , e.g. B. Singing Germany .

The publishing house was initially associated with the political movement of the Vormärz . Among other things, he published the Charivari magazines and the Leipzig Locomotive , whose license was withdrawn shortly after its publication due to democratic rebellion. In 1846 a court decree even banned the sale of all Reclam books in Austria-Hungary because they were viewed as too anti-Habsburg. A Leipzig court sentenced Philipp Reclam to prison in 1848 because the translation of Thomas Paines' Das Zeitalter der Vernunft was in the publishing house . An investigation into true and untrue theology had appeared.

After the failed March Revolution in 1848 and the heavy sales losses that the Metternich Decree brought with it, the company's image changed. The publisher was now less focused on politically and literarily rebellious as more on becoming a successful company. The focus was now on high-circulation works of classical education: editions of the Greek and Latin classics by Koch; Mühlmann's Latin and Koehler's English dictionary and Schmidt's French lexicon, which was revised by him; also the opera library (piano reductions with German text), Härtel's German lexicon of songs and, as a forerunner of the cheap classic editions of Shakespeare's works.

Creation of the universal library

Reclam has been family owned since its inception; here Hans Heinrich Reclam, the second publishing director and son of the publisher's founder Anton Philipp (around 1900)
Replica of the Reclam book machine from 1912 in the Reclam Museum .

In 1858 a Shakespeare edition appeared, from which in 1865 a series of 25 volumes of Shakespeare's dramas emerged in individual editions, which is considered to be the forerunner of the Universal Library . With a decision of the Federal Assembly of the German Confederation in 1856, the copyright of German authors was limited to 30 years after their death; The cut-off date was November 9, 1837. As a result, their works became public domain in November 1867 and could therefore be used without royalties. Authors like Goethe or Schiller suddenly had to be printed free of charge for publishers.

Already the first volume of the universal library was a little later, a classic of German literature and according to tradition Anton Philipps Favorite book: Goethe's Faust . This was followed by Faust II , Lessing's Nathan the Wise , Theodor Körner's collection of songs Leyer and Schwert and Shakespeare's Romeo and Julie (sic!).

The publisher described the Universal Library in contemporary advertisements as: “A collection of individual editions of generally popular works that are to appear in regular succession, although no thought is given to works that are not classified as 'classic' but which are nonetheless themselves enjoy a general popularity to exclude from the collection. ”With this, the publisher brought classic education to sections of the population for whom it was previously unaffordable, and thus contributed significantly to the expansion of the cultural heritage.

Modern technology and successful marketing soon contributed to Reclam being able to sell its paperback books very cheaply. The works were published at a price of 2  silver groschen , later 20 pfennigs per number, which the publisher was able to hold until 1917. Instead of 20, a number then cost 25 pfennigs. The Universal Library published around 140 volumes per year, including German authors, European literature, ancient and philosophical works, legal texts, musical works ( libretti ), reference works and entertainment literature . There were bound versions of numerous ribbons as miniature editions in different designs.

Anton Philipp Reclam died in 1896 in his place of birth, Leipzig. At that time, the universal library comprised around 500 numbers (around 2300 volumes, almost as many different titles). The management of the publishing house passed to his son Hans Heinrich Reclam (1840–1920), who was previously involved in building the universal library.

In 1905 the publishing house moved into the new publishing house in the graphic quarter in Leipzig. The in-house steam engine generated, among other things, the energy for the over 40 high-speed presses in the print shop. In 1908 the 5000th issue of the Universal Library appeared.

In 1912 the publishing house first used book machines for sales. The machines turned out to be a sales success, and soon over 2,000 of them could be found in train stations, on ships, in hospitals and in barracks. A publisher's brochure at the time advertises the machines:

“The illustration on the right shows that the book vending machine has a very elegant and appealing outer shape designed by the famous craftsperson Prof. Peter Behrens and looks like a shop window by offering twelve different volumes to choose from. Each individual book is wrapped in a wrapper, on which the content is explained in clear writing with short, concise sentences, curiosity is aroused by an accurate judgment or a characteristic of the author is given - better than any salesman would be able to do so he can never be so precisely informed about the individual volume. The selection continues to change, because every time you buy, the front volume falls from one of the twelve visible stacks, and a new book entices you to choose and buy. Since each stack contains 6-7 volumes, a single machine offers a selection of around 80 different books! "

Although the machines had boosted sales, the publisher decided in the early 1930s to discontinue the one-time experiment in the German book trade because the repair costs were too high. The machines were dismantled or found in museums.

From 1920, after the death of Hans Heinrich, the grandsons of Philipp Reclam, Hans-Emil Reclam and Ernst Reclam , took over the management of the publishing house. In the same year the publisher also pushed the publication of contemporary authors; among them were Klabund , Thomas Mann , Arthur Schnitzler , Hugo von Hofmannsthal , Gerhart Hauptmann , Franz Werfel , Stefan Zweig , Arnold Zweig and Ricarda Huch .

In 1928 Thomas Mann gave the laudation for the 100th anniversary of the publishing house in Leipzig .

time of the nationalsocialism

Portable field library of the Reclam publishing house in the First World War , similar field libraries were also published at the beginning of the Second World War

During the Nazi era , many works, especially by Jewish authors, were no longer allowed to be published. Important in-house authors such as Thomas Mann were also removed from the program. Other prominent authors who no longer appeared in Reclam during this period are Ferdinand Lassalle , Heinrich Heine , Stefan Zweig , Arthur Schnitzler and Franz Werfel . The publisher adapted its program satisfactorily, so that the literary historian Adolf Bartels announced in the Völkischer Beobachter in 1938:

“In general, you can be satisfied with the big cleanup at Reclam. Thousands of German readers, especially the people and the youth, are no longer so easy to get at the consistently dangerous Jewish poets and writers. "

In 1934, German copyright law was extended to 50 years after the author's death. As in the First World War, the publishing house issued a portable field library at the beginning of the Second World War . These were shockproof boxes that contained 100 different Reclam editions, so that the Wehrmacht soldier did not have to do without Goethe or Kant at the front either. Due to the widespread use of the volumes, Reclam envelopes also served as a camouflage for resistance literature, just as the British and American military packed their writings for German soldiers in Reclam bindings.

In the bombing raids on December 4, 1943 , the entire graphic quarter of Leipzig was badly hit. 450 tons of books fell victim to the bombs at Reclam Verlag.

Two publishers

Initially, the publisher's owner Ernst Reclam held onto the Leipzig publishing location after the end of the Second World War . From 1946 until his resignation in January 1948, he was even the first chairman of the Leipzig Stock Exchange Association . Working in the Soviet occupation zone was not only made significantly more difficult by the effects of the war, but the publishing house was also partially expropriated, and a large part of the technical equipment was dismantled for reparation purposes and transported to the Soviet Union.

Ernst Reclam was looking for a new publishing location in the American occupation zone in Stuttgart and founded Reclam Verlag GmbH here with eight book titles, at that time still as a branch of the Leipzig headquarters. In 1948 he left Leipzig - like many other publishing colleagues before him - and moved to Stuttgart with his family. In 1950 Ernst Reclam made the Stuttgart company the new headquarters, while the new leadership of the GDR forbade him to manage Reclam Leipzig from Stuttgart. Reclam Leipzig came under state administration, the publishing house split up.

Reclam Stuttgart

German-language volumes of the Universal Library have been appearing in yellow since 1970, here the publishing booth at the Leipzig Book Fair 2005.

Reclam Stuttgart mainly produced for schools. In 1953 Heinrich Reclam , the son of Ernst Reclam, took over the management of the publishing house. In 1959 the 1000th volume of the new publisher appeared. From 1964 the publishing house began to work increasingly for universities and, in addition to the pure text editions, also produced editions with extensive annotations.

In 1967, on the 100th anniversary of the Universal Library , over 1,100 titles were available. From 1970 the paperbacks appeared in their appearance, which has been retained to this day: with a yellow cover for German and orange for bilingual editions; from 1983 additionally in red for foreign language editions with vocabulary aids. Green envelopes also indicate volumes that contain explanations, interpretations, references to original texts and similar materials; they serve as an extension to the texts to which they refer. Blue Reclam booklets contain reading keys (for students) and working texts.

In 1980, the company moved into new publishing and printing facilities in Ditzingen . At that time, the publishing house generated 72 percent of sales with the Universal Library, 18 percent with manuals and guides, and ten percent with collections of articles from the fields of German, art, philosophy and music in the relatively newly introduced paperback program. From 1985 the management of the publishing house was transferred to Reclam Geschäftsführung GmbH, headed by Dietrich Bode and Stefan Reclam-Klinkhardt.

Since 1998 the literary scholar Frank R. Max has taken over the publishing house as managing director. He started at Reclam in 1982 as a lecturer. The eight-volume edition Deutsche Dichter (1988–1990) and Reclam's Romanlexikon in five volumes (1998–1999) and summarized in one volume in 2000 were created as new reference works . For the universal library, he was able to recruit the contemporary authors Robert Gernhardt , FW Bernstein , Hans Traxler , Eckhard Henscheid and Brigitte Kronauer won and wrote the chronicle of the Reclam publishing house in 2012. His successor in February 2015 was the Hamburg lawyer and management consultant Wolfgang Kattanek.

Reclam Leipzig

At the same time, the publishing business in the Leipzig headquarters continued under the conditions of the GDR . After the GDR Ministry of Culture refused to let the Leipziger Verlag run from Stuttgart, it placed it under a trust administration in 1952. In 1953 it was briefly converted into a VEB , but this was canceled again because the prerequisite for this (Nazi involvement of the previous owner) was not met. Reclam Leipzig continued to focus on the very affordable volumes of the universal library : in addition to works from world literature and German classics, GDR authors were also published. Reclam Leipzig thus fulfilled a similar function for literary education as the Rowohlt Verlag with the rororo books in the West. The appointed publishing director, Hans Marquardt , endeavored to have literary and philosophical works provided with extensive comments, just as he tried to sound out the limits of what was still allowed in the GDR: In addition to the obligatory titles, Margaret Atwood also appeared in the publisher , who were ostracized in her home country Russian avant-gardists Jessenin and Boris Pasternak , Ossip Mandelstam and Anna Achmatowa , as well as Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass or the socialist critics of the GDR Ernst Bloch and Hans Mayer .

After the turn

Stand at the Leipzig Book Fair
Reclam Universal Library

After the fall of the Wall , the future of Reclam Leipzig was uncertain. The employees of the publishing house initially wanted to buy Reclam Leipzig as an independent publisher and possibly continue it as a foundation. However, the naming rights were unclear, and all licenses of the universal library were with West German publishers, so this could not be continued. The ownership rights to the Reclam publishing house itself also turned out to be complicated, since Reclam Stuttgart still owned shares and only incomplete documents were available about the expropriation at that time in GDR times.

In 1992, after the reprivatisation of the Leipzig headquarters, the subsidiary Reclam Library Leipzig was established . While the sure money maker, the Universal Library , continued to run solely in Ditzingen, the publishing house decided to continue the Leipzig branch for historical reasons. Reclam Leipzig acquired new authors and made a name for itself with translations by Dutch, Swedish and Greek authors. Among the first publications of the Leipzig was Schlafes brother , who had previously been rejected by 20 other publishers and which the Leipzig editorial team could only with difficulty wrest from the parent company. With a print run of over a million copies, Schlafes brother remained the most successful book by the people of Leipzig after the fall of the Wall. The first publications by Sibylle Berg and the German first editions by Viktor Pelewin appeared in the Leipziger Haus . Wiglaf Droste is one of the better-known authors of the publishing house .

From 1995 the publisher used new media such as CD-ROM and from 1998 also the Internet. From 1999 to 2001 Reclam also produced audio books . On October 10, 2003, the publishing house celebrated its 175th anniversary. The writer Ulla Hahn gave the keynote address.

At the beginning of 2005 Reclam closed the production department in Leipzig. On December 6, 2005, Ditzingen announced the closure of the former head office in Leipzig in spring 2006 with the last four employees. Since then, the publishing house has been operated exclusively in Ditzingen.

In 2019 Reclam received one of the three undoped awards of the German Publishing Prize .


Building of the Reclam publishing house in Ditzingen

Although contemporary authors have appeared again and again at Reclam, the publisher has become known primarily for offering classics at low prices. In the publishing industry itself, the important Japanese academic Iwanami publishing house adopted the concept of the series as Iwanami bunko (Iwanami library) in 1927 and continues to publish in this series to this day.

The later publisher Ernst Rowohlt remembers his youth around the turn of the century: "Yes, my peers say that I was often hit on the street reading a Reclam ribbon while walking and sometimes even ran into lampposts". A Reclam booklet with a work by Kant plays a not insignificant role in Robert Musil's The Confusions of the Zöglings Törless . Thomas Mann declared in 1908: “Yes, I loved the yellow and red booklets so much, to which I owed my most beautiful hours, that it was my dream to see a work of my own mind printed in front of me in its kind, and this dream is mine has not become a stranger to this day. If one or the other of my books were to appear in the Reclam library thirty years after my death - wouldn't that be a little immortality? ”His first book by Reclam was published in 1924 and thus during his lifetime.

Since the Reclams publishing program was assigned to everyday rather than high culture, intensive academic engagement with the publishing house began late, but is publicly supported by the publishing house itself. The exhibition Kaba und Liebe (from Schiller's Kabale und Liebe ), first opened in 1999 at the Cologne Museum for Thoughtless , deals with the alienation of Reclam books by schoolchildren. In 2006, the Offenbacher Klingspor Museum showed the collection of the antiquarian Georg Ewald in the exhibition Reclam - The Art of Dissemination , who has probably the most complete collection of all Reclam books ever published.

Reclam Museum in Leipzig

The former publishing house in the graphic quarter (2009)

On October 24, 2018, the Reclam Museum was opened in Leipzig opposite the historic publishing house on Kreuzstrasse . The museum , located in the basement of a commercial building, houses an exhibition and a reference library with a focus on Reclam's universal library on an area of ​​around 50 square meters .

The institution is run by the Association of Literary Museum eV , the premises are provided by the non-profit school association Rahn Education . The approximately 10,000 objects on display - including currently around a third of the total production of Reclam's Universal Library , plus celestial items such as an autograph by Hermann Hesse - come from Hans-Jochen Marquardt's private collection . A fully functional replica of a book vending machine is on permanent loan from the Reclam publishing house.


  • Dietrich Bode: Reclam. Data, pictures and documents on the publishing history 1828–2003 . Reclam, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-15-012003-9 .
  • Dietrich Bode: Reclam. 125 years of the Universal Library: 1867–1992: Publishing and cultural history articles . Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-15-010378-9 .
  • Dietrich Bode: Reclam. Data, pictures and documents on the publishing history 1828–2003. Philipp Reclam, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-15-012003-9 .
  • Heinfried Henniger (Ed.): Authors, publishers, books. An almanac. For Hans Marquardt on August 12, 1985 . Reclam, Leipzig 1985.
  • Carmen Laux: Philipp Reclam jun. Leipzig: “A question of prestige for the Leipzig book trade”. The development of the publishing house from 1945 to 1953 . Master's thesis University of Leipzig 2010.
  • Frank R. Max: The Reclam Verlag. A short chronicle . Reclam, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-15-018280-8 ( online at: PDF file; 4 MB [accessed on May 4, 2017]).
  • Dieter Meier: Reclam's universal library. Stuttgart 1947-1992. A bibliography . Reclam, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-15-010379-7 .
  • Philipp Reclam jun. 100 years of the universal library . Reclam, Stuttgart 1967.
  • Ingrid Sonntag (Ed.): At the limits of the possible - Reclam Leipzig 1945-1991 . Chr. Links Verlag, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-86153-931-5 .

Web links

Commons : Reclam-Verlag  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Anne Guhlich : Reclam-Verlag sweeps jobs. In: Stuttgarter Nachrichten . July 7, 2012, accessed December 20, 2016 .
  2. End for Reclam in Leipzig - label should be continued. In: Börsenblatt des Deutschen Buchhandels. December 7, 2005.
  3. a b c Susanne Mack: Reclam Leipzig ade. In: Deutschlandradio Kultur. March 29, 2006.
  4. ^ Max: The Reclam Verlag. A short chronicle. 2003, p. 29.
  5. ^ Max: The Reclam Verlag. A short chronicle. 2003, p. 68 f.
  6. ^ FR Max: The Reclam publishing house. a chronicle
  7. ^ About the Reclam publishing house in the Hamburger Börsenblatt.
  8. Reckam: The clever man builds on
  9. 175 years of Reclam: A celebratory speech. Held by Ulla Hahn.
  10. ^ Max: The Reclam Verlag. A short chronicle. 2003, p. 20.
  11. Goethe-Institut: Yellow and cheap - Reclam Verlag is 175 years old.
  12. ^ Lars Schumann: Reclam Museum in Leipzig was opened. Reference library and permanent exhibition at Kreuzstraße 12. In: LEIPZIGINFO.DE. October 25, 2018, accessed October 25, 2018 .
  13. ^ Mathias Orbeck: Everything about the universal library - a Reclam museum opens in Leipzig. In: Leipziger Volkszeitung. October 22, 2018, accessed October 27, 2018 .
  14. Eva Gaeding: Reclam Museum Leipzig on MDR , October 24, 2018th

Coordinates: 48 ° 49 '20.7 "  N , 9 ° 3' 58.3"  E

This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on June 2, 2006 .