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Young Germans driving spike in English-language book sales

DDP/Kristen Allen · 23 Apr 2009, 17:21

Published: 23 Apr 2009 17:21 GMT+02:00

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According to a spokesperson from the German association for book dealers, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the market for foreign-language fiction sales has doubled in the last five years – though it only makes up for three percent of total sales.

“The ability and readiness to read English-language books in the original is growing,“ Thomas Wilking, Editor in Chief of German book industry trade magazine Buchreport, told news agency DDP this week.

In 2003, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” by UK superstar author J.K. Rowling, was the first English-language book to the top bestseller list compiled by German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. The book’s sequels held the first-place spot on the list for even longer.

The most recent book to make the list is US author Stephenie Meyer’s latest addition to her “Twilight” vampire romance series, “Breaking Dawn,” Buchreport’s Wilking said. Aimed at young, female readers, the book’s English edition matched the number of translations sold in German – making it the bestselling English novel of the past year in Germany. Many customers often buy both versions of their books, he said.

This book’s target group – the young – are among the most likely to read English-language books, industry experts say.

“We have, without a doubt, seen an increase in English book sales in recent years,” Claudia Krömer, spokesperson for Berlin’s largest book store, Dussmann, told The Local on Thursday, adding that they carry almost 6,000 English titles.

These sales at the enormous downtown store are driven largely by young adults, students from the nearby Humboldt University, and people from all age groups who want to stay on top of current culture, such as prize-winning novels, books that new movies have been based upon, and new releases, she said.

“Young parents who speak English are also buying classic children’s books to prepare their children for English lessons,” Krömer said.

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To accommodate the next generation of English book lovers, some German book stores like the Hugendubel chain are either creating new foreign book sections, or enlarging those that already exist.

They now have large foreign book sections in many of Germany’s largest cities – often cater to native English-speaking tourists and immigrants living in the country.

DDP/Kristen Allen (kristen.allen@thelocal.de)

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