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Self Publishing In Switzerland, Germany And Austria: JJ Marsh

Self Publishing in Switzerland, Germany and Austria: JJ Marsh

Key factors

40 Million Germans speak English fluently. Germany is the second biggest market for sales of American books in print and the third biggest market for sales of American ebooks. Many successful German writers take English-sounding author names, especially in the romance, history novel and fantasy sections. Genre fiction is a winner: romance, erotica, crime, and non-fiction self-help and how-tos are in high demand. Love stories set in the British countryside seem to be much more appealing to readers when they are set in the English environment.

There’s no capital for the German-speaking publishing market like Paris for French-speaking Europe, or London for the UK. There are major publishers in Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin and Zürich. The two major book fairs in Leipzig and Frankfurt have recognized the potential of self publishing and invite independent authors to discussion threads and events.

The German book market is regulated by “Buchpreisbindung”, which means “fixed book price law”. This states that a book cannot be priced differently on different platforms. The fact that retailers cannot freely determine the price for books – and that pricing is not linked to consumer demand or production costs – is designed to support small local bookstores. Without Buchpreisbindung big online retailers could offer discounts on most books and local stores would lose customers. Publishers and authors can set the price for a title as high or low as they like.

An interesting development is the the Tolino ereader. In 2013 three of the big players in the book market, Thalia, Weltbild (with Hugendubel) and Bertelsmann Buchclub and Deutsche Telekom (ie, all the important bookstore chains) formed an alliance against Amazon by creating their own ereader – the Tolino. This is competing well with 40% market share of ebooks, as it’s seen as a homegrown product.

Swiss, Austrians and Germans, like most of Europe, prefer print books. It accounts for over 90% of book sales. Fewer than 40% of trade publishers offer e-versions of their publications. However, the overall market share for ebooks doubled in 2014 (10%). While the German-speaking market is behind the US and the UK, it is growing fast.

The indie author scene is growing. Amazon.de’s ebook bestseller list reveals that 50 % to 80% of the top 10 ebooks are self-published titles.

… in the longer run, the ebook share will rise gradually and take years, but in the end it will be the predominant form to publish a book. The first signs of that are the massive growth in self-publishing. That very quickly goes e-only. We are also seeing publishing moving in that direction as well, by creating self-publishing platforms.

– Ronald Schild, CEO of MVB

Indie authors gravitate towards each other and are good at sharing. The German hub, in German and English, is Der Self-Publisher Bibel, run by Matthias Matting. Austria’s Rüdiger Wischenbart is an expert on e-publishing and has compiled comprehensive data on the global perspective. And in Switzerland, The Woolf has created a community of writers, publishers and artists who pool skills and intelligence.

If you’re looking to expand in Germany/Switzerland/Austria, here are some key sites which also have English versions:




English xtme





And key books to read:

Going Global by Birgit Kluger

How to Publish in Germany  by Matthias Matting



This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. I publish printed books and ebooks in the USA and use 48Hour books as my printer and bindery. I would like to have a source to publish in Austria. Here I send completed wotk to my printer and bindery and the book gets out. Prinetr and bindery name nowhere as they use what they call”bind shipping” which has my name and address.

    How can I do this in Austria where I send work to a printer and bidery and they ship to my customer.? The customer pays me and I pay the company there.

  2. I agree with Richard Bunning that the USA and UK alone won’t be enough of a market share for an Indie published author. although the UK has been very good to me. I also like to mention that the written info is very helpful. It gets down to the nitty-gritty. I’ve been to many conferences and it’s one thing to be there and listen to speakers and quite another to sit in front of your PC and listen. But I am grateful for all the help I’ve found so far

  3. If I am ever going to ‘succeed’ success will come from English speaking readers around the world-
    India, Philippines, Sweden, Norway, Finland, NZ, Australia, Denmark, Nigeria, Kenya, SA, Canada, Eire and yes Germany, and substantial numbers from just about everywhere else – not just USA and the UK.
    The others together, potentially make the USA and UK look like a small market.
    I live in Switzerland, by the way- no English market is too small to bother with.

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