Three percent

Books translated into English from other languages account for no more than 3 percent of the American book market (source). This, to me, can mean only one of two things:

1) There are a lot of original works being published in the US, enough to cover the domestic market. By sheer volume alone, any foreign translations become invisible and do not reach their potential readership.

2) American readers are suspicious of translations. Plus, they don’t want to read anything by non-American authors.

So, which is it? Are readers really aware when a book is a translation and when it isn’t? Thoughts?

  1. To put these 3% into perspective: books translated into German accounted for 8.8% of the German book market in 2008 (source: That’s nearly 3 times as many as in the US market.

    NB Two thirds (66.9%) of the 2008 translations came from English speaking authors, which seems to support my theory that there is no discrimination involved.

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