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Angèle Manteau and the Indonesian Connection. A Remarkable Story of the Flemish Book Trade after the Second World War

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[The famous twentieth-century publishing house A. Manteau would not have achieved its literary success if the manager of the firm, Angèle Manteau, had not been prepared to reach commercial compromises once in a while. In Flanders, publishing companies could not make ends meet with the sales of literary work alone: other activities to finance their less profitable and sometimes even loss-making novels and collections of poems were necessary. Even though Angèle Manteau realised this and constantly tried to improve the profitability of her company, it never flourished and occasionally experienced great difficulty. Towards the end of the fifties the publishing house was heading straight towards bankruptcy. At precisely the same time the Dutch publisher Wilhelmus van Hoeve (1899-1968) suffered some setbacks of his own. His main activity was producing scholarly books about Indonesia, but his business took a turn for the worse when diplomatic contact between the Netherlands and Indonesia was broken off. Among other things this meant that the Indonesian authorities would no longer allow trade with Dutch companies. Van Hoeve therefore started looking for a Belgian partner to organize the export of his books for him. Around 1958 he found the manager of the ailing Manteau company prepared to help him. For the Belgian company the cooperation with van Hoeve soon proved very lucrative. Not only did it put Manteau back on its feet, it even created new opportunities., The famous twentieth-century publishing house A. Manteau would not have achieved its literary success if the manager of the firm, Angèle Manteau, had not been prepared to reach commercial compromises once in a while. In Flanders, publishing companies could not make ends meet with the sales of literary work alone: other activities to finance their less profitable and sometimes even loss-making novels and collections of poems were necessary. Even though Angèle Manteau realised this and constantly tried to improve the profitability of her company, it never flourished and occasionally experienced great difficulty. Towards the end of the fifties the publishing house was heading straight towards bankruptcy. At precisely the same time the Dutch publisher Wilhelmus van Hoeve (1899-1968) suffered some setbacks of his own. His main activity was producing scholarly books about Indonesia, but his business took a turn for the worse when diplomatic contact between the Netherlands and Indonesia was broken off. Among other things this meant that the Indonesian authorities would no longer allow trade with Dutch companies. Van Hoeve therefore started looking for a Belgian partner to organize the export of his books for him. Around 1958 he found the manager of the ailing Manteau company prepared to help him. For the Belgian company the cooperation with van Hoeve soon proved very lucrative. Not only did it put Manteau back on its feet, it even created new opportunities.]

Affiliations: 1: University of Antwerp, Belgium

10.1163/157006908X363949
/content/journals/10.1163/157006908x363949
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/content/journals/10.1163/157006908x363949
2008-11-01
2016-12-08

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