This year a publishing phenomenon in Switzerland is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a book, which takes a witty but also informative look at the Swiss, and the experiences of foreigners living among them.This content was published on September 7, 2000 - 10:31
"Ticking Along Free" is the third in the highly-successful "Ticking Along" series published by Bergli Books, and like its predecessors it's a collection of stories by people of many different nationalities about what it's like to live and work with the Swiss.
Cultural misunderstandings abound in this series, which is edited by Dianne Dicks, the founder of Bergli Books.
Dicks became a publisher completely by coincidence. Arriving in Switzerland in the 1960s, she began collecting stories about Switzerland by other writers, and became interested in making contact with other people who, like her, were in an intercultural situation.
With contributions from other writers, a first book was ready, but she could not find a publisher. "I was too embarrassed to send back all the stories," says Dicks, "so decided to publish it myself."
This was a courageous move for a person with no experience of publishing and not much money to invest in it. But the gamble paid off. "Ticking Along with the Swiss" sold 10,000 copies within two years and sales are still healthy more than 10 years later.
The next step was to found Bergli Books, and in the past 10 years there have been two sequels and a whole string of books on such subjects as food, wine and intercultural romance. Bergli also distributes the handbook "Living and Working in Switzerland", which is now in its seventh edition.
Dicks estimates that over half her readers are the Swiss themselves. "At first I was afraid they might take offence," she says. "But I've had very positive feedback from them, and no complaints. They clearly enjoy reading about how outsiders see them."
Bergli Books also organises monthly meetings between authors and readers for readings and discussion at the Bider and Tanner bookstore in Basel.
Dicks enjoys these sessions in particular. "It's a great business to be in," said the writer who became a publisher by coincidence.
by Richard Dawson
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