Flip book publisher joins the digital age

With the literary world descending on Leipzig this week for its annual book fair, one local family publisher is there to bring flip books into the mainstream, using innovative products that incorporate digital photography into one of the oldest forms of animation.

Flip book publisher joins the digital age
Photo: DPA

The fun lasts only a few seconds – these tiny books need little time to tell a story that can often include a surprising or curious end.

While one hand holds the book, the other thumb flips rapidly through the pages, creating the effect of a short stop-motion film.

“The flip book is the progenitor of interactive entertainment,” said Holger Schack, the 43-year-old owner of “Schacks Verlag,” a publisher offering the broadest selection of flip books in Germany.

The Leipzig-based publisher has about 300 titles on offer, many of which are imported from countries as far afield as the United States, Spain, Italy, Argentina and Turkey.

“Flip books are not intended to convey deep psychoanalytic truths,” said Schack, explaining that the animations, instead, are meant to deliver quick, concise messages in an entertaining fashion.

But flip books still have the ability to surprise and delight. One of Schack’s titles, for instance, promises to tell the “real” story of the Frog King.

“With some of our books, we had some fun with black humour and let it run free,” he said with a smile.

Schack founded the family publishing house in 1998 with his brother Michael.

“I, like so many others growing up, used to sketch simple little flip-animations in all my school books,” he said.

But he soon realized he didn’t have the talent to become a full-time animator himself. So the Schacks now work together with 10 to 15 illustrators at a time.

“My work as a publisher has become a kind of vicarious satisfaction for an artistic career that never quite materialized,” he said.

In German-speaking countries, the Schacks’ wares are distributed to wholesale dealers or delivered directly to book stores. But the internet has played an increasingly vital role in their business.

Through direct contact with customers, the Schacks have been able to expand their enterprise overseas.

“A Japanese collector orders from us once or twice a year, and we also have a regular customer from France, whose collection of 4,000 titles is surely among the largest in the world,” he said.

Much of their success is driven flip books’ popularity as stocking-stuffers and souvenirs, though.

When the Schack brothers founded the company 13 years ago, the flip book genre was floundering, but they are managing to keep it afloat by concentrating on creating innovative, customizable products.

“More and more, we’re creating personalized flip books for our clientele,” said Schack.

Thanks to the ever-increasing capability of digital cameras, customers can send their own pictures or short films to the Schacks and have them transformed into flip book form. These are then used as greetings to friends and relatives or novel party invitations.

Customers can have as few as four copies of their own flip book made, with production averaging ten days.

“We print smaller series in our own press here,” Schack said, “For larger projects we work with larger printers in the south of Germany and in Poland.”

This, the Schacks believe, will allow them to entertain flip book enthusiasts for many years to come.

dapd/The Local/adn

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Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.