More than half a million non-English books in the USA Kindle store

More than half a million books non-English books in the USA Kindle store

One area where we continue to see growth is in the number of books in the USA Kindle store in languages other than English.


Foreign Languages (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

part has 511,843 titles at the time of writing.

The languages breakdown this way:

Those “other languages” cover quite a range…and these categorizations don’t necessarily capture all of the titles.

This how Other Languages expands:

When I checked about a year ago

Non-English books in the USA Kindle store

there were 80,230 Spanish books listed…so in one year, it has increased by about 45%.

I think we will continue to see more and more books in languages other than English.

It’s not as simple as someone translating a book, by the way. Even a book available in another language at a different Amazon site, can’t just be made available in the USA Kindle store without licensing it.

There are 3,301,270 books in Amazon’s Kindle store for Spain at time of writing. Those aren’t all in Spanish, I’m sure, but certainly, there are a lot more books in Spanish in the Spanish store than there are in the USA store.

I believe global rights are becoming more common when books are licensed from the author or the author’s estate.

However, that still doesn’t mean that every book in a language will be made available at every site.

In some cases, the publisher may believe that the book is only appropriate in certain countries. A book specifically about a popular telenovela star might not sell well in the USA when it might in Mexico, for instance.

You might figure, “Why not make it available anyway?” I can understand that idea, but there are costs involved with selling a book, including Customer Service.

I’d love to see every book available everywhere, but that’s just unlikely to happen.

By the way, as an example of another language, there is a Klingon translation of Hamlet in the store. Text-to-speech is not enabled on it, though, so I’m not linking to it.

That’s an interesting point by itself.

You need to have an appropriate voice available for a language to work well with TTS. If you try to use an English speaking TTS voice with Spanish, you’ll get massive mispronunciations.

That’s not just because of the difference in vowel sounds.

The way that TTS works is that a voice artist reads lots and lots of material into a system.

Where the system can match up what was read to what’s in the book, it can use that…which is why things like both “Kansas” and “Arkansas” can be pronounced differently, and why there actually is some inflection in phrases.

For more information on that, see

An ILMK interview with September Day, the voice of the Kindle Fire HD

Increasingly, we are getting software that can do better translation, but again, that could fall afoul of copyright laws. Making and marketing a new translation of a book under copyright protection in the USA generally requires authorization. I’m not quite sure how that would work if it was done in a streaming fashion, though, without the translation being set into a “permanent” form. My guess is that might be okay, similar to the way that you don’t need for permission for text-to-speech, but do need it for a recorded audiobook.

I will check back on these counts again in the future.

Bonus story: this

GeekWire article by Todd Bishop

links to a podcast where they had the

Amazon Echo

on as a guest.

They were doing it tongue in cheek, but this was one of the better demonstrations of what the Echo can do that I’ve seen…er, heard. 😉

I thought I might do something like that (using a synthesized voice to ask the Echo questions) when I eventually get one, and I may still.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.


4 Responses to “More than half a million non-English books in the USA Kindle store”

  1. Tom Semple Says:

    The United States has native speakers of virtually every language in the world (in some cases, very significant populations). So it makes sense for publishers to make their ebooks available here, provided they have them to sell anywhere.

    What have you got against the Klingons? It is hard enough for them to find literature in their native language, and it is not their fault that there is no TTS engine for Klingon. And it is not very wise to offend them, as you must know, they are easily offended.

    Seriously, those would be good candidates for embedded audio (or even better, companion audiobooks). I’d also like to see multimedia ebooks for learning dialects for acting students.

    One thing I have not seen done well are ‘dual-language’ ebooks. Fortunately, devices are cheap enough that you can operate two of them side-by-side.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Quite right…in some cases, there are more speakers of a language inside the United States than there are in the language’s place of origin.

      I have nothing against the Klingon Empire, or its language…yIDoghQo’.

      Your comment made me recheck my post: I don’t see anything that was indicative of not respecting the Klingons. You describe them as quick to offend: I would say they are a culture of honor. 😉

      My point on books published in different languages wasn’t that there wouldn’t be speakers of that language in the USA, particularly…it was more that a book written in Spanish might be intended for a particular audience, and that audience might not be large at all here. That’s what I was trying to convey with the telenovela remark.

      As to dialect books with embedded audio…here is one of the ones in the USA Kindle store:

      Teach Yourself Accents – The British Isles: A Handbook for Young Actors and Speakers (at AmazonSmile*)

      I’m pretty good at accents myself…when I was a professional actor we got some training in that, and it certainly helped. I’ve never had a good Scottish accent, though…Liverpudlian, yes, both a stage and realistic Cockney, yes, but Scottish? Nae sae much.

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I was going through my Kindle Archive recently, and I discovered a Chinese/English dictionary that I know I never purchased. Is this one of those books that the Kindle automatically puts there for reference and I can’t get rid of?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      If you only have one Chinese dictionary there then yes, that should be the one stored in the Cloud/archives for you so that a Kindle registered to your account can perform as advertised if you or someone else on your account changes the language on it to Chinese.

      I think you are aware of this, but for other people reading this:

      * There is no charge for these dictionaries
      * They do not take up room on your device unless you download one there (which will happen if you change languages)
      * If you do delete them from the Cloud/archives, Amazon will restore it

      They used to get in the way a bit in the listings…for one thing, they would sometimes show as new (and at the top of the list) after an update. Changes to the

      page have largely taken care of that. The dictionaries have been put into a different category, and the page now defaults to showing you your Books (and that does not include the dictionaries). You have to go the Show filter and select Dictionaries & User Guides to see them.

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