Bonnier Books 2019

A Story About Eels

Bonnier Books brings together Bonnier’s book-related businesses. Today, these range from traditional publishers and chains of bookstores to digital subscription services for audiobooks and e-books. However, publishing is and always has been at the core of the business.

Håkan Rudels, CEO Bonnier Books

Albert Bonniers Förlag has created and refined stories since 1837.In 2019, an unexpected book about eels was brought into focus.

“I think I’ve written a book about eels and I don’t know what to do now.”

“That sounds interesting. Send it to me.”

The above is an e-mail exchange from late fall 2018 between journalist Patrik Svensson and Daniel Sandström, literary director and publisher at Albert Bonniers Förlag.

Daniel Sandström is a literary scientist with a background as a journalist. He had previously worked with Patrik Svensson, and when he got the e-mail, he knew it came from a fantastic writer. Patrik had written a personal text about eels, about the knowledge of mankind and the fascination with an animal that we know surprisingly little about. It was also about the relationship between a father and son who had fished for eels together.

Daniel was attracted to the approach – a nonfiction text with fictional ambition. For a publisher who works with both fiction and nonfiction, it was particularly interesting that the story hovered right on the border between the two. In addition, several narrative nonfiction books had recently had major success in the U.K. and U.S.

When a manuscript is sent to a publisher, it doesn’t have to be perfect. The important thing is that the story has something unique. At a first meeting between author and publisher, the message is often that the text has to be adapted before it can become a published book. This time, Daniel Sandström immediately felt that the book had something special.

In March 2018, Patrik’s script was accepted for publication. Together, the author and publisher began to think about the book’s core and how the story could develop. The text was edited and chapters rewritten, added or moved. The childhood depictions, previously at the end of the book, were interposed between popular science passages and essays on eels.

At this point, the publisher’s work is normally formalized. The publisher involves further experts – editor, proofreader, graphic designer/illustrator and several professional communicators. Together they refine the author’s script into a finished book for the reader to enjoy.

In July 2019, Ålevangeliet (The Gospel of Eels) was published in Sweden. By then, the rights had already been sold to more than 30 countries. In November, Patrik Svensson was awarded the August Prize. Ålevangeliet was Sweden’s best-selling non-fiction story in 2019. The initial gut feeling – that a personal book about eels could become something special – turned out to be right.

Bonnier Books

Sales: 5,770 SEK M (5,522 SEK M)

EBITA: 250 SEK M (148 SEK M)

Number of employees: 1,830

Chairman of the Board: Maria Curman

CEO: Håkan Rudels