Zetland Leads the Way in the Emerging E-Book Single Market


If you can read Danish and enjoy nonfiction e-book singles, boy, are you in luck.  Copenhagen-based Zetland has been publishing original e-book singles since March of 2012.  Altogether, the company has released a dozen singles to the market, and a 13th will be published Monday, June 17.

Zetland’s most popular title is “The Heist,” which is the true story of the biggest robbery in the history of Denmark.  It was a candidate this year for Denmark’s version of The Pulitzer Prize.  Other titles include: “Seduced by Health,” a memoir by an Iranian-born journalist about her unhealthy obsession with living a healthy life; “The Twilight People,” a horrifying account of life on the bottom of the Danish narcotics supply chain; and “The Breakwater,” about a lowly Danish seamstress dominated the sport of open water ocean swimming. 

The company was founded by former book editor Jakob Moll and his colleagues Silke Bock, Hakon Mosbech, and editor-in-chief Lea Korsgaard.  “We quit our jobs (in 2011) because we wanted to figure out a new way to publish journalism,” explained Moll in a conversation with Thin Reads from Denmark.  “The Danish newspaper business was in a depression.”

After securing a small grant, Moll engaged on a fact-finding tour including a trip to the U.S. where he met companies like The Atavist and Byliner.  Moll and his colleagues reached a conclusion:  “In order for Zetland to work, we had to produce the best journalism possible,” said Moll.  Zetland’s first e-book single, published in the first quarter of 2012, was “The Heirs,” which chronicled the hidden class of powerful Danish nobility.

“We didn’t sell a lot of copies to start but we got enormous attention,” Moll said. “We started selling in the hundreds and now we’re in the thousands.  We’re a long way from being a viable business model but we can make money doing other things.  A lot of people are asking us to help with their journalism.”

While the financial future for Zetland may not be clear, the big advantage the company has in their small country is that they have virtually no competitors except for Berlingske, one of the Danish national newspapers, which started publishing e-book singles earlier this year.  And Zetland has clearly established a brand that is synonomous with long-form quality journalism, which is a valuable commodity in the digital world.

Moll has found other small e-book single publishers in Europe including Longplay in Finland, and Informant in Italy. (There is also Ether Books in England.  The company publishes made-for-mobile e-book singles that can be downloaded straight to smartphones.)  They are all part of the emerging e-book single market in Europe. 

 Posted 6-12-13

 Correction:  An earlier version of this story stated that Zetland had no competition in Denmark.

comments powered by Disqus
New Releases  
Title Author 
From the Heart  D. J. Taylor
The Vessel Taylor Stevens
Everybody's Baby Lydia Netzer
The Neighbor Dean Koontz
The Amateur  David Gordon
The Julian Chapter  R.J. Palacio
Old Girls in Low Cotton  Helen Childress
New Year's  Adelle Waldman
Below Zero  Roger Hurn
By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain Joe HIll
Title Author
 And the City Swallowed Them Mara Hvistendahl
The Hungarian Tiger  Tibor Fischer
The Matters of Life, Death and More: Writing on Soccer  Aleksandar Hemon
 Cloud Racers Adam Peneberg
Pay-Off: How One Millennial Eliminated Nearly $80,000 in Student Debt in Less Than Five Years  Shannon Young
The Spirit of '76: The Year America Went Rock & Roll David Browne
Bear Mountain Mick Webb
Bomber Girls M. J. Foreman
Twice Upon a Time Listening to New York Hari Kunzru
Mind What Your Wear  Karen J. Pine



Change password