Amazon put out a press release this morning talking about its commitment to translating books to English. Specifically, it’s putting $10 million behind the service taking books from across the world written in different languages and translating them to English for purchase.
Sure, ebooks have plateaued (but make no mistake, they still make plenty of money), but there is money to be made with the English-speaking community. According to the release, Amazon will commit $10 million over the next five years to increase the number of books its translates through AmazonCrossing, its literary imprint dedicated to translations.
In 2015, the AmazonCrossing published 77 titles from 15 counties and 12 languages in the United States. And in its five years, it has translated more than 200 titles by authors from 29 countries written in 19 languages.
How are they going to find new titles? Well, Amazon is big on crowdsourcing and it has opened a site for submissions. Members of the Amazon team will also be at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 14, accepting submissions in person. Currently, AmazonCrossing is accepting fantasy, historical fiction, literary fiction, memoir, mystery, thriller and suspense, romance, science fiction, women’s fiction and young adult fiction.
The thing that intrigues me the most about this endeavor is the diversity this could bring to the market. While 77 new titles may not “move the needle” much, stories from across the world involve different cultures and viewpoints that don’t get told in the United States because of barriers.
According to the release, books from German and Korean authors have already been translated. These books, however, have had great success in their own countries. German author Oliver Pötzsch had his best-selling series, Hangman’s Daughter, published through AmazonCrossing. Next year, it is adding a title from Mexican author Laura Equivel (Like Water for Chocolate).
Translated works do not make up a significant portion of the bookselling market, but maybe that’s exactly why Amazon is jumping into it.
What books would you like to see translated?