2018 from cover to cover
What we did and why we did it
The end of the year is in sight, and this usually is time to look back on what a year it has been. For us at MENDO, 2018 was a busy year. Busy in a good way, and like any year, the ups come with downs.
2018 was a pivot year for us. We’ve published twelve titles this year, added three new men to our team, and in terms of revenue it might be our best year ever. Not that everything was all “biscuit and egg”, as the Dutch would say. With the growth we’ve been experiencing came certain issues that needed taking care of. We’re not a start-up, but the last few years we’ve been making steps towards a new direction in terms of publishing and retail that made us discover new and challenging grounds.
In short: we’re developing.
It raises some questions: What have we done this year? And more importantly, what does it mean for us? The “new MENDO” started a little over three years ago and this year we’ve seen the first results of that. Time to evaluate.
Maybe the best thing to do is to go back to why we’re doing this. This is a question we’ve asked ourselves a number of times this year, and we think it shows in what we do. When Roy and Joost started MENDO it was nothing like it is now. However, the love for visual inspiration has always been in its DNA. Even now, with all these titles we see around, and the countless visual incentives given to us by online content every day, the image, and the books that carry them, still resonate.
This has been the vantage point for everything we do. Whether it’s a book on fashion, cities, a DJ, or avocados; we want to inspire and surprise. Words and images that titillate senses. We’ve started that with our website, which has been praised enough, and we’ve been doing that for years in our store in the Berenstraat.
Our store is still our home. We’ve been there for over fifteen years, and in those years it has become a home for many others as well. Not many of them know that we nearly lost it this year. Underneath the crescendos of last year, a difficult and tiring process with our landlord has been hanging above our heads like the sword of Damocles. In addition, we’ve had issues with a leakage, causing a lot of damage to our stock and store. This meant many hours, attorney fees, and energy that could have been spent otherwise. Luckily we can now say that the dispute has been settled, and we’ll be staying in the Berenstraat for at least a while. A big ‘thank you’ goes out to Roy, who persisted and kept his calm, no matter how difficult or nasty things got.
In the last few years the center of gravity for our company has shifted from being a bookstore to being a publisher and bookstore, with a webshop that processes orders from around the world every day. This change of emphasis means a change of business management. Our online growth meant we had a new challenge in terms of logistics, in which Joeri has moved mountains this year. Luckily we were also able to add Gunifort as the fourth member to our management team this year, which created a lot of new opportunities, especially on our publishing side.
Come to think of it, between 2012 and 2017 we made our first twelve books. This year alone we’ve made twelve. The funny thing is that these books were largely made by the same people who made those first twelve in seven years. Meaning this year, we asked much more of our capacity as book designers and publishers. Besides that, our traffic on the website, as well as our (web)sales, have increased to new heights. We’re still doing all this ourselves, with a very small team of twelve men.
The question is, is such a fast growth a good thing? Like we said before, we don’t want to lose track of why we’re doing this. Yes, some of us have families to take care of now (Gunifort became a father this year and Joeri is expecting), but we’re not doing this just for money. As we’ve read earlier in an interview with a befriended Amsterdam book store owner this year, “if you want to earn money, you shouldn’t start a bookstore.” And if you look at it that, creating and selling books the traditional way indeed isn’t a money making machine. Our challenge is to be creative and always find new ways to create opportunities.
‘We will be doing less next year, but we’re doing less - better.’
‘We will be doing less next year, but we’re doing less - better.’
That is why we moved from just being a bookstore to also being a publisher. That is why we’ve invested in a groundbreaking website. Not that brick and mortar retail is dead, on the contrary, our store is still a place for many like minded people from all over the world to come together and feel at home and inspired. But we’ve seen gradual shifts in the ways people buy these days. Moreover, we’ve seen how our industry (books) is not responding to these shifts avidly enough.
Maybe that puts us in an advantaged position for the time to come. We’ve always been quite unique in what we do. And we wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t do things differently. No other publisher in the world does it the way that we do it. And we’re proud of that. We’ve discovered that it takes more than just making a book. This Is Not A F*cking Street Style Book, our first book with teNeues, has been touring around the world, having events and collaborations with some of the best fashion stores there are. For Streets of London, we had a panel talk at citizenM. #SENDNUDES was released in one of the most exclusive hotel suites of Amsterdam. I could go on for a bit.
Not only have we developed in the things we made, and how we brought them to life, we also collaborated with interesting people with like minded visions. The titles we’ve published this year have been results of collaborations with bigger and smaller names from various backgrounds and on our journal we’ve interviewed tastemakers, artists, and entrepreneurs who all have decisive roles in their industries. What these people all have in common is a similar energy. We were able to find people who share our love for imagery, for paper, for ink, for the tactile nature of books. They have a very own way of approaching things, and we’ve been able to learn from them and from ourselves in doing this. All adding to a development of MENDO.
That development has been in our website, the amount of books we’ve made, but also the kind of books we’ve made. In our store we’ve added more depth (with mixed results), and it remained a steady success. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the people in our team have developed both professionally and personally.
This year we’ve added Ugur, Daan, Dario and Eddie to our roster. During the course of the year Ugur finished his BSc, Dario, Daan, and Mikel are almost finished, while Jermain and Emile started new academic careers. Gunifort became the father of a beautiful son, while Joeri is expecting his first child in January. Joost’s oldest son is going to school now, Joost B. is making a living in Kenya, and uncle Roy is overseeing everything. Besides all the positive news, some of us have had to deal with relatives who are ill and family tragedies. With the small and close team we have, these are major happenings that affect us all.
Like any year, the ups come with downs. But despite some of the professional and personal hardships of 2018, we believe there has been a positive development this year. Another thing we’ve learned: nothing ever goes as exactly planned. That doesn’t stop us from making plans for next year though. In 2019 we will try to continue in the direction we’ve chosen. We want to think less traditionally, create new opportunities for ourselves and others to excel, and create beautiful books with people that we believe in. We’ll let go of things from yesterday when we move into tomorrow. But at the same time we’re proud of what we’ve done and who we are.
We might be doing less next year, but we’re doing less – better. Never forgetting why we’re doing it.
Some facts from this year at MENDO
– We’ve published 12 titles this year and made three corporate books.
– In one year we’ve used approximately 31 kilometers of wrapping paper.
– For This Is Not A F*cking Street Style Book, Adam Katz Sinding traveled through 32 cities worldwide and we’ve done collabs with stores and brands like Antonioli, 424, and Machine-A.
– We’ve had orders from 47 different countries this year.
– We’ve had two of our books re-published this year: Icons by Oscar in a smaller format, and a German version of Depart.
– Five of our MENDO-men were featured photographers in the Streets Of… books.
– Our Journal featured interviews with the makers of two of our favorite books of the year, Omar Sosa from Apartamento and Jimmy Nelson from Homage to Humanity.
– We made a book with the number one DJ in the world, and we’re the only one in the world selling it.
– One order traveled 18,570.73 kilometers, you’ve probably guessed that was LIFE = CRAZY.
– We’ve had four inspiring shelf sessions with Jochem Leegstra, Guillaume Philibert, Jason Denham, and Narda van ‘t Veer.
– This year we’ve had our highest signing ever, on the 21st floor of citizenM Bowery, NYC.
– This year, our websales came for 47% from mobile, 4% tablet, and 49% desktop.
– For #SENDNUDES we had a release party in W Amsterdam’s Extreme Wow Suite, and “extreme wow” it was.
– Streets of New York is our best sold book from the Streets of… series.
– We spoke with some of our industry’s leading figures, among whom Marlene Taschen and Hendrik teNeues.
– The Avocado Show had its third print run within a month.
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