»Every style of writing is permitted but that which is tiresome.«
At Diogenes, Europe’s largest purely literary publishing house, this dictum by Voltaire has served as a guiding principle for more than 55 years. With the total number of works published amounting to almost 190 million, Diogenes has so far released more than 5,800 titles, out of which more than 2,000 are still available. These include classics such as Montaigne, Shakespeare, Moliere, Flaubert, Stendhal, Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoy, Chekhov; modern classics such as Georges Simenon, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell, Carson McCullers, Patricia Highsmith; bestselling authors such as John Irving, Paulo Coelho, Donna Leon; and equally successful German-speaking writers such as Alfred Andersch, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Urs Widmer, Hugo Loetscher, Ingrid Noll, Jakob Arjouni, Erich Hackl, Bernhard Schlink, Doris Dörrie, Martin Suter and Patrick Süskind.
With his novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, the latter wrote the most popular bestseller in the German-speaking world since Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. After eight weeks, 115,000 copies had been sold, and the total number of copies published to this day is more than 5 million. The book was on Spiegel’s bestseller list for more than ten years, with over 16 million copies sold in 47 languages worldwide. The greatest literary success of a German-speaking author in the Anglo-Saxon world after Perfume was again a Diogenes book: Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader which also made it onto the bestseller lists abroad. The book has already been translated into 40 languages, a film adaptation of it is being made in Hollywood, and it was the first novel to come out of the German-speaking world to reach number one on the New York Times bestseller list in 1999.
Daniel Keel founded Diogenes Verlag in 1952 and had a formative influence on its programme right up until his death in autumn 2011 (Homage to Daniel Keel). Two years after the foundation of the company, his school friend Rudolf C. Bettschart became his business partner. As co-owner, he is still responsible for the overall commercial management of the publishing house today. The management team includes Winfried Stephan (Programme/Editorial), Stefan Fritsch (Marketing/Organisation), Daniel Kampa (Marketing/Audio Books), Ruth Geiger (Press and PR) and Katharina Erne (Finances).
Apart from literary works, Diogenes also publishes art and cartoon books as well as children’s books which formed an important part of the publishing programme in the company’s early years. Famous authors include Loriot, Sempé, Paul Flora, F. K. Waechter, Tomi Ungerer and Maurice Sendak. In 1971, the first Diogenes paperbacks appeared, called detebe for short. With its paperbacks, the publishing house builds and maintains its backlist. After all, the guiding principle of Diogenes’ publishing policy has always been not so much to release individual books but rather authors and, wherever possible, their complete works and to ensure that they are always available. Apart from contemporary literature, the line is well-known for its detective stories which, with names such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Eric Ambler, Patricia Highsmith, Georges Simenon and Jakob Arjouni unites the »crème de la crème of crime fiction authors« (FAZ).
detebe classics form the largest collection of literary classics in paperback in the German-speaking world. Some highlights from more than 25 years of detebe: Balzac’s Human Comedy in 40 volumes in a Bordeaux case, a complete reprint of the Zurich Schopenhauer edition in 11 volumes, and the largest non-Russian Chekhov edition in 23 volumes.
Diogenes also has charge of important theatrical rights including those of Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Slawomir Mrozek, the German Moliere translation by Hans Weigel and Patrick Süskind’s The Double Bass. In addition, the publishing house represents the global rights in the works of various authors of foreign languages, e.g. those of Patricia Highsmith, Andrzej Szczypiorski, Leon de Winter, Donna Leon, Viktorija Tokarjewa, Magdalen Nabb, Tomi Ungerer, Andrej Kurkow and Petros Markaris.
»Rather than monotonously marketing bestsellers, Diogenes Verlag caters to individual reading needs. The result: the publishing company is more successful than ever« (Stern, Hamburg). In the year 2005, Diogenes Verlag was elected Publishing House of the Year for the ninth time by German-speaking booksellers. In 2006, Diogenes was the most successful publisher of literary works of the year for the ninth time, as established by the specialised magazine Buchreport on the basis of Spiegel’s list of bestselling works of the year.
Since 2005, Diogenes Verlag has published audio books as well - i.e. readings of new works by Diogenes authors and modern classics from the publishing company's long history going back more than 50 years. The works are recorded by top-class readers such as Hans Korte, Christian Brückner, Rufus Beck, Heike Makatsch, Jan Josef Liefers and Gert Heidenreich. »The most reliable fascination comes from Diogenes. With this publishing house, the audio programme is no longer a discovery, but rather a triumph. Both retailers and competitors have long praised Diogenes as ›the pearl of the segment.« (Berliner Zeitung)