Meet the bookseller: In interview with Bettina Kube, Schweitzer

15 April 2014

Bettina Kube

How long have you been a legal bookseller?

The International Legal & Financial Bookshop started something like 12 years ago. But I worked in an international environment long before, in Schweitzer’s international department - first on the book side, then reorganising the subscriptions part of the department, and later on the looseleafs/standing orders. And at all times, I have been the contact person for our foreign clients.  

Tell us a little about Schweitzer Sortiment and the Munich shop.

Schweitzer has always been a legal bookseller, founded 1868 in Munich, Germany. For over a century, it published a yearly catalogue of law books, the Vademecum – the bible for German lawyers in the times before the Internet. Around the 1980s, Schweitzer started to expand, and bought or founded other legal and/or academic bookshops. Today, Schweitzer has 36 shops and offices in 24 German cities.

What do you like best about your store and your job?

The shop’s location is in the very centre of Munich, close to the courts and the shopping area - very convenient for both our customers and of course us working there.

My job … well, I guess it is the mix that I love. Researching simple and complicated stuff for customers, marketing, negotiating with publishers, working with our ‘sisters’ - helping out Schweitzers in other locations when it comes to law books and international questions in general. Always a new challenge - one thing which my job never is, is boring.

What’s your current best-seller?

Bühler / Webster, Handbook of ICC Arbitration

Faull / Nikpay, EC Law of Competition

Born, International Commercial Arbitration

Red Book: IFRS International Financial Reporting Standards 2014

What qualities do you think legal booksellers need in today’s market?

Flexibility. Competence – if you cannot provide return on investment, then you are lost in today’s market. Customers need a good reason to come to you and not just order with Amazon. And unlike Amazon, we can offer individual service solutions for our customers.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a bookseller?

The expectations of customers these days, who expect that we can provide international books in a day. Try to match that with international publishers, whose shipments you cannot expect for weeks … or pay more for shipping than you have discount.  

What would your advice be to anyone starting out in bookselling?

Forget about the bookseller of the past … The job has little to do with reading and recommending nice books. Well, at least not for a legal or academic bookseller! Think economically at all times, be good at research, know your way around computers …

What is your favourite book of all time?

I love to travel and to read about it. Not a certain title, more like certain authors – maybe first of all Dervla Murphy or Ffyona Campbell – along with many, many more.  

Tagged in Bookseller