Amazon.com, Inc. last week announced that it would be committing close to $10 million over the next five years to AmazonCrossing.
AmazonCrossing was launched five years ago “to introduce readers to voices of the world through English-language translations of foreign-language books,” Sarah Jane Gunter, Director of International Publishing at Amazon, said in a statement. She further added, “We are now one of the largest publishers of translated literature in the United States.”
Amazon is Set to Become the Largest Publishers of Translated Literature
Amazon Crossing says it plans to publish “77 titles from 15 countries and 12 languages” in the U.S. And, with this fresh $10 million earmarked, the number of translated titled published by Amazon Crossing should continue to rise, which will almost certainly make it the largest publisher of translated literature in the country.
Of course, $10 million in the glitzy world of publishing is a small figure. Just to put things in perspective, Simon & Schuster recently signed comedian Amy Schumer for one-book deal for a similar amount. So don’t expect Amazon Crossing to turn into some publishing powerhouse. But regardless, it still has important implications for readers.
Having said that, Amazon.com, Inc. still runs a number of highly successful mid-sized publishing houses. These include thriller-focused Thomas & Mercer, Little A and Amazon Crossing.
Amazon realizes that its imprints are isolated both commercially and geographically. Amazon Publishing is based in Seattle, and not New York, where all major publishers live. Also, it typically relies only on Amazon.com to distribute its books.
Jeff Bezoz Takes the Road Less Travelled
It’s not as if Amazon.com, Inc. doesn’t have the funds to take on the big, bad publishing world. But Jeff Bezoz doesn’t want to do that.
Bezos once told Businessweek that the company has no intention “to become Random House or Harper Collins.”
American publishers, in general, are averse to publishing translated works. The costs are just too high. They will have to pay a foreign publisher for the rights, plus a translator to translate it.
As a result, America has a very poor record of publishing translated works. Some estimates say that only 3 percent of books published in the U.S. are works in translation.
But great literature is not a sole preserve of the English language. Some of the most influential authors of our times still write in their native tongue. But as their works are seldom translated, readers are denied the pleasure.
Amazon is catering to this niche crowd. It may not substantially add to the firm’s top-line or bottom-line, but Bezoz believes he has created his own publishing ecosystem.
Amazon.com, Inc. ’s publishing business is built around the Kindle. And as the world slowly changes the way it reads, more and more readers will be exposed to these translated works.
Bezoz is often heard lecturing how publishers are outdated and inefficient. His own publishing house offers a glimpse of what things should be like.