Non-English books in the USA Kindle store
Amazon has more sites than just Amazon.com:
- United Kingdom
However, you can’t just buy e-books from those other sites if you want to do that.
A lot of people complain about that in the Amazon Kindle forums, but there is a good reason behind it (at least, with laws set up the way they are now).
Authors traditionally license the rights to sell their books to publishers. They normally license them by format (someone who licenses the rights for the hardback doesn’t automatically get the e-book rights or the audiobook rights) and by territory. The latter might be an individual country, but it could be a lot more than that (all of Africa, perhaps)…just depends on what is worked out.
If the publisher who licensed the right to sell a book in France sells it to somebody in the USA, they could be in serious trouble. That’s particularly true if a different publisher licensed the USA.
A lot of people counter that with the ability to buy paperbooks from other Amazon sites, but that’s quite different. With a paperbook, the store buys it from the publisher first, then sells it to the customer. If the store is able to export it, that’s fine…that’s not where the publisher sold it.
With an e-book, the sale doesn’t happen until the customer buys it…the store didn’t buy it first. The sale is basically considered to have taken place where the customer is (although it’s a tad trickier than that).
So, while the German site has over two and a half million books (many of which, I am guessing, are in German), that doesn’t mean all those same books are available to customers using Amazon.com.
I checked the state of foreign language books at Amazon.com back in November of 2009.
These were some figures I got then:
- French edition Kindle books (3,650)
- Spanish edition Kindle store books (3,475)
- German edition Kindle books (1,897)
- Italian edition Kindle books (1,048)
- Portuguese edition Kindle books (172)
- Swahili edition Kindle books (5)
I got those results by searching for the language followed by the word “Edition”. For example, I would have searched for “French Edition”.
Amazon has since expanded the way it lists foreign language books. This is what it says now:
- Spanish (80,230)
- German (142,958)
- French (40,986)
- Italian (31,324)
- Japanese (17,538)
- Portuguese (19,382)
- Chinese (2,895)
- Afrikaans (1,716)
- Russian (260)
- Other Languages (5,722)
Now, just to give a more consistent comparison, I’ll search for “German Edition”. Doing it that way, I got 143,043…not that far off, and it might have some false positives.
So, honestly, we can say that the numbers have exploded! There are about seventy-five times as many German books, just to stick with one language!
If we compare that to the overall growth rate of the USA Kindle store, this is much, much higher. I recorded the titles in store count on December 1, 2009 as 385,484. On January 1 of 2014, I recorded 2,351,290. While that is a lot of growth (there are about six times as many books…more than doubling every year), it’s not even a tenth the rate of German book growth.
My search for “Swahili Edition” gives me 104 versus 5…more than twenty times as many.
I think that the number of books where companies get global licenses has also greatly increased, and that may have something to do with it. It costs the company more initially, or at least I would assume that’s the case, but can certainly be worth it.
Here’s a link to
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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.