UK Lightning Source and EU Publishing

Publishers on our side of the pond often view Europe as an expensive place to do business with a limited number of English speaking readers. Two of the publishing industry's premier events, the Frankfurt and London book fairs, obviously take place in the EU, but American publishers assume the main opportunity there is for selling translations. We've had the occasional offer on one or another of our books to do a translation, but the potential upside was outweighed by the possible risks and probable legal costs. But, thanks to treaties that allow for free flow of goods, a publishing relationship with any EU publisher can make your books available in all of the member countries.

EU sales for Foner Books, printed and distributed by Lightning Source in the UK, amounted to about 25% of our U.S. sales in 2006, and are on an upward trend. For us, choosing to have our books printed and distributed in the EU was a simple check box when setting up the titles for the US, and setting a price in English £'s. There were no extra setup charges or costs, and the income is deposited in dollars directly in our business checking account. We didn't attempt to do any regionalization for our titles, in terms of the English or units usage, but our feedback from customers in Europe has been terrific. Since English is the second language of the Western world, it's also unclear that we would sell that many more books if they were translated.

As in the US, the UK branch of Lightning Source maintains a relationship with the Amazon outlets there, including,, and of course, We get some sales through all of these outlets, and I've occasionally seen our books stocked for immediate delivery in all of these stores. The POD services company that Amazon acquired, Booksurge, used to maintain printing relationships in several European countries, but I'm not sure how that's been impacted since the buy-out. Also, if you move beyond the trade paperback market, book tastes in the Europe may be very different from those in the US, in terms of prices people are willing to pay and products they expect.

I've been tempted for years to go to one of the European book fairs, as much as I hate traveling, just to see how different things really are. My main experience with foreign language books is in Israel, where books are very expensive because the numbers printed are relatively small. An Israeli Bestseller need only sell tens thousand or so copies, the population being only about 2% of the US. New paperback novels cost in the $15 to $25 range, and hardcover fiction is relatively rare, and often classic. Although France and Germany are large markets compared to Israel, their populations are about a fifth of the US for France and a little more than a quarter for Germany, and I don't expect the export market for those languages is as large as it was a hundred years ago.The UK population is about the same as France, so those of us who "chose" to write and publish in English can pat ourselves on the back for being astute business people:-)

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