Leipzig Book Trail Digital

Category: Culture/Tourism

Titel der Challenge

Leipzig Book Trail Digital

Research Question

What could a web-based digital “Leipzig Book Trail” look like that creates on-site experiences, offers narratives about the book city of Leipzig, and showcases the current book scene?

Challenge Description

Despite the Leipzig Book Fair and the reading festival “Leipzig liest” being cultural highlights in Europe’s book calendar, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to Leipzig every spring, the history and present of the book city of Leipzig as a cultural landscape are not well-established in the broader public consciousness.


Over five centuries, the city was the center of German book printing and bookselling. By the 19th century, the city had evolved into a central “bookplace.” The unique combination of production, trade, and distribution, supported by educational institutions, interest groups, and exhibitions, had no parallel in the world. The founding of the “Association of German Booksellers” (1825), the “German Library” (1912), and the World Exhibition of Book Trade and Graphics, shortly “Bugra” (1914) – all of these are highlights of Leipzig’s book city in the 19th and early 20th centuries.


However, the First World War marked the beginning of dramatic changes for the Leipzig book trade metropolis. The economic crises of the Weimar Republic, the almost complete destruction of the Leipzig book city on the night of December 4, 1943, the exodus of publishers in the early GDR, and the dramatic economic decline since 1990, along with the departure of many publishers over time – given this decline, it is now challenging to paint a positive picture of the book and reading city of Leipzig.


Nevertheless, Leipzig today is home to many small and micro-publishers. A vibrant entrepreneurial scene produces innovative titles that are widely recognized and associated with the book city of Leipzig, especially abroad. An example is the internationally acclaimed “Spector Books” publishing house. At the same time, the city is a hub for a diverse book trade landscape, as well as printing companies and graphic industry service providers of recognized quality. Leipzig’s library network is excellent – few other cities boast such a diverse library landscape, from specialized thematic libraries to city and university libraries, to the German National Library. Leipzig has also gained a profile as an outstanding education center in the book field, from the Bookseller School (Gutenberg School), the University of Technology, Economics and Culture, the German Literature Institute to the University of Graphics and Book Art – the density is unique.


A digital “Leipzig Book Trail” aims to create access to the past and present of the book city of Leipzig through an interactive user experience. In developing the application, it must be considered that many book locations do not allow for an authentic on-site experience, as they are either destroyed or belong to a fluid entrepreneurial scene that is not always located in central public places but often in private spaces or on the outskirts of the city. The challenge is to make these actors visible and provide corresponding offers depending on the data available. Another challenge is how visitors will become aware of the digital book trail. What visible anchor points are there in the real environment that can provide connections to the digital space?

Vision / Expected Outcome

Through this challenge, the city of Leipzig is seeking an idea for the implementation of a digital web-based application that is easily accessible to the public. The target audience is the general public and tourists. Furthermore, it should engage current actors in Leipzig’s book scene.


The digital application should present the content of potential book locations through text, images, or audio experiences. The storytelling should cater to the book-oriented target audience and, therefore, be broadly aligned with literary narrative forms. Real and virtual walks allow for experiential knowledge transfer in line with modern storytelling. Since the digital application operates in a field heavily influenced by designers, it must have a visually contemporary appearance.


The digital application should create a user experience with a mapping function, allowing users to filter and display individual routes based on specific criteria (thematic, geographic, etc.). The application should provide the option to choose whether a route can actually be walked or if information about the locations should be digitally received (possibly due to long distances between locations that may not be easily reached on foot).


Since the potential book locations in the city of Leipzig are numerous and extend beyond the immediate city center into many neighborhoods, the digital application should initially start with selected locations that can be gradually expanded. Accordingly, there are already clusters formed as part of a conception, which are available as a confidential attachment.


In a further phase, the digital application should have a self-entry feature, allowing actors in the book scene to independently designate themselves as “Points of Interest,” with decisions on inclusion on the platform made by specialist staff from the city of Leipzig.


The city of Leipzig is currently in the process of building a digital “Platform of Cultural Memory” based on the Museum and Collection Management System BeeCollect (https://www.solvatec.com/index4b61.html) and the Digital Asset Management System Cumulus, starting in 2024 with NetX from the municipal museums (https://www.cds-gromke.com/digital-asset-management-2/netx-digital-asset-management/). An important aspect is that the “Leipzig Book Trail” should be developed within this technical environment or provide the necessary interfaces.


The basis of the “Leipzig Book Trail” is the existing Geo Data Infrastructure Platform (GDI) (https://www.leipzig.de/bauen-und-wohnen/bauen/geodaten-und-karten). Furthermore, based on this data structure, the Department for Digital City Leipzig is establishing an urban data platform. The participation system with a storytelling service used in this context can serve as the technical foundation for the digital application (https://dipas.org/).


In developing the application, it should also be considered that the Tourism and Marketing Society of Saxony mbH (TMGS) is currently maintaining a central tourism database as an open data platform (https://open.destination.one/). The application should be able to be linked to this platform for data retrieval.


The application should be browser-based and provided in real-time to interested users worldwide.


If other implementation proposals prove convincing during the challenge, there is a high degree of openness on the part of the challenge sponsor.

Contact Person

Karin Rolle-Bechler
Referat Strategische Kulturpolitik

Tel.: 0341 12234207
E-Mail: karin.rolle@leipzig.de


Jakob Freese
Koordinator eCulture
Referat Strategische Kulturpolitik

Tel.: 0341 1234213
E-Mail: jakob.freese@leipzig.de

Weiterführende Informationen

Existing Examples:

Book town 1913


Student project „BuWision“


Research Book City 2023


Attachment: Expertise on the “Development of a Leipzig Book Trail” (confidential)

Thank you for your interest in Smart City Challenge Leipzig 2024.