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English Dominates European Book Sales

by | Jun 11, 2024 | News

During a promotional tour in the Netherlands for her novel “The Candy House,” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan observed that most fans brought English copies for her to sign. This was confirmed by her Dutch publisher, De Arbeiderspers, which reported that 65% of the book’s sales in the Netherlands were in English. This trend is evident across Europe, particularly in Scandinavian countries and Germany, where English fluency is high, leading many readers to prefer original English editions over translations.

 

This shift raises concerns among European publishers and agents in the U.S. and Britain, as it could undermine the market for translated books. English-language export editions, often cheaper than their translated counterparts, threaten local publishers’ revenues and make it harder to justify the cost of translating and marketing foreign works. Tom Kraushaar, publisher at Germany’s Klett-Cotta, warned that this trend could lead to a collapse in the translated book market.

 

The popularity of English books is bolstered by social media platforms like TikTok, where viral trends influence young readers to buy books in their original language. Many young people prefer English editions with original covers for their social media posts. In Amsterdam, for example, young adult sections in bookstores predominantly feature English-language books.

 

Publishers are adapting by releasing translated books with English titles and covers similar to the originals. Despite the challenges, some booksellers, like Jan Peter Prenger of Libris, welcome the influx of young readers brought in by the English-language trend, noting that it revitalizes the bookstore scene.

 

Overall, while the rise in English-language book sales presents challenges for the translation market, it also reflects a growing, vibrant reading culture among Europe’s youth.

 

Source: The New York Times

 

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