Observations after the Buchmesse, part #7. Selling your translated self-published book in the German market

With this seventh article I’m concluding my observations after my participation as guest to the event titled  Think Local, Act Global: How to Reach aGlobal and Successful Audience through Self-Publishing” at the Kobo stand during the Frankfurter Buchmesse.

Here is the list of the previous articles:

I’m closing this series now by reporting the information gathered from Matthias Matting’s words (he was the other guest of the event) concerning the German-speaking market.

The omnibus of “Deserto rosso” (my science fiction series) among the books exposed in the stand of
Kobo during the Frankfurter Buchmesse 2014.
Market size.
According to what Matting stated, the e-book market in German is the second in the world after the English-speaking one. In particular, the e-book market in Germany is the third after the one in USA and UK. Of course this concerns the economic size of the market, which depends on how many e-books are sold and by their price, and not on the number of potential readers, which is higher in other more spoken languages like Chinese or Spanish.
This information must be taken with a certain caution, because there’s obviously a huge difference between the two markets (English and German).

Translation costs.
Since the linguistic pool is smaller but it is characterised by an interesting economic turnover, having your book translated into German may be relatively expensive as compared to other more widespread languages, which show a higher competition among the translators.

Copyright on titles.
Book titles are covered by copyright in Germany, so it’s important to check that nobody has used the same title you intend to use in German, otherwise you can incur legal issues (and expenses).
Obviously such a rule depends on the situation. A very common title, which has been already used several times, can’t be covered by copyright and therefore can be used again without problems, but if only another published book has got that title, so it’s better you choose another one for yours.

Fixed price for e-books.
The law in Germany imposes that e-books have the same prices at the same time in all retailers. This prohibits performing specific promotions in a single retailer, including those at zero euros (the so-called free days). Moreover you must be careful that possible currency conversions bring to the same final price (if you use a distributor like Smashwords where you set the prices in dollars).

Amazon Kindle Store is the main retailer in the Germany, but there’s also Tolino, which takes 30% of the market. Having your book for sale on Tolino (to be purchased directly from the device) isn’t so easy. Tolino makes direct agreements with traditional publishers, with some authors (you can ask for information here) and with specific self-publishing distributors (some of them aren’t free).

Price of the e-books.
The average price of the e-books is lower than in the English-speaking market, but it’s higher than in other markets. German readers don’t expect to buy big books for under one euro; actually they could look at them with suspicion.

Paperback edition.
According to Matting, there’s a very good print-on-demand platform in Germany, called BoD (Books On Demand), which is better than CreateSpace for what concerns costs, quality and services.

Paperback distribution with a traditional publisher.
As it already happens in USA, some successful self-publishers in Germany have made distribution agreements for their works with traditional publishers for what concerns the sole print edition.

Matthias Matting and me at the Frankfurter Buchmesse.
As you can see the situation of the German-speaking market is very peculiar and you need to consider the pros and the cons before deciding to have your book translated.

That’s it. This series of articles is over. I hope you found them useful. If you have any question about the topics, don’t hesitate and contact me.