By Jeannie Wurz
The town I grew up in – a suburb of Chicago – was flat as a pancake. But the mountains I experienced as a child covered a broad spectrum from Mount Rushmore (four US Presidents carved in a cliff in South Dakota) to Mount Trashmore (the local landfill, used in winter as a sledding hill).
As I crossed the Midwest every summer in the 70’s with my family and a tent, I had no way of knowing that I would someday cross the ocean and end up settling down in a little-known country with very big hills.
I’ve passed through many Swiss cities since arriving in Bern in 1992. I’ve adapted, integrated and become Swiss. But it’s only now, as an intern two days a week, that I‘m getting to know the city of Basel, and discovering new facets of my adopted country in the varied publications produced in Basel by Bergli Books.
Corner on the market
On a Monday morning at 8:30 the Basel train station is humming. Travelers arrive from Germany to the north, from Zürich to the east, from Bern to the south, from France to the west. Thousands of workers head for the soaring, shining, glass-and-steel buildings that house the pharmaceutical industry. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Rhine river, in a small office above the Narrenschiff bookstore, three people settle down to a very different kind of business: telling the stories of Switzerland.
I am one of them: a journalist interning as a marketing professional. My task: to help relaunch the Bergli Books website. My goal: to build a community of readers and writers who want to share their experiences of life in Switzerland.
Bergli Books has had the English-language corner on this market since 1988, when founder Dianne Dicks published “Ticking Along with the Swiss”, the first in what was to become a four-book series about cultural encounters between Swiss and non-Swiss in Switzerland.
Since then, Bergli has published just under 50 books, branching out to include coloring books, cookbooks, children’s books, guides to the Swiss German dialect, a range of books illustrated with cartoons, biographies, history and politics, and German and French translations of popular titles.
Welcome to the new website
Obviously, selling books is the main goal of a publisher’s website. But my focus as Bergli’s web content developer has been on making the new website a place to spend some time learning about what Switzerland and Bergli have to offer, not just a place to search for one title.
This blog – offering a personal viewpoint – is our first attempt to reach out to our readers. Under the menu item “News & Views” we’ll also be reporting news related to Bergli’s books and authors. If you're a potential author with an idea for a book, you’ll find submission guidelines under “About Us”, along with a short history of the company and links to book reviews and press coverage. Helping Bergli authors publicize their books is on our agenda for the future.
An organization is made up of its people. Bergli Books may have a small staff, but it has many authors, and even more readers. Our goal is to bring the website to life – to show that books are created and read by people, and that Bergli’s books are created and read by people in Switzerland.
We hope you’ll be one of those people. So check back often. We look forward to meeting you – virtually or in person – as we share the stories of Switzerland.