Amazon Publishing Invests in Book Translations

As we all know, Amazon has been investing hard in the publishing industry and either bringing innovation with pioneering solutions or popularizing existing concepts. So far, they had the Kindle catalog that can be read in physical devices or in the cloud, the Author Central self-publishing platform for digital or print-on-demand formats, and KDP Publishing, a library-like system for Prime customers to borrow books free of charge.

Now Amazon is getting serious about literary translations. Its dedicated imprint is called AmazonCrossing and the goal is to "introduce readers to authors from around the world with translations of foreign language books, making award-winning and best-selling books accessible to many readers for the first time."

So far, there is a forum running in order to get feedback from readers, who have been asking for French, Italian, and, Russian versions. With a catalog of about 230 books to date, the imprint is mostly focusing on translations into German (120+ titles), with very few titles available in Spanish (10+).

The plan is to partner with foreign publishers to make AmazonCrossing books available in local languages, thus maximizing revenue through worldwide representation of an author's work.  The company will also manage publishing rights and subsidiary rights, such audio books, paperback reprints and large prints, as well as television or motion picture rights.

Although the first translated title was published back in 2003, the imprint is fairly unknown to the public and the number of titles available only started increasing in late 2011, including several into-English translations (90+) from authors from Germany, Poland, France, Finland, Denmark, Ukraine, Argentina, Cuba, and Japan, among other countries.

Following the Frankfurt Book Fair, which took place last week and had Brazil as the guest of honor, AmazonCrossing has announced that ten Brazilian authors will be translated into English.

The good news for translators is that their names are prominently shown on the credit line and their bios are included in the general author's page , which is always great for visibility. However, the translator sign-up page does not disclose information on negotiations, that is, if professionals will receive payment upfront―either based on the number of words or pages―, share royalties with authors, or earn a combination of both.

We'll keep an eye on the project to report on its developments and highlight prominent into-English translations of award-winning foreign books and the expansion into other foreign markets where Amazon currently operates, including Spain, Italy, France, and Brazil.