By Laura Austen
The market for children’s books around the world is strong, and Germany is among the biggest players in the translation rights business. Though the German book market typically buys more translation rights than it sells, the sale of licenses for illustrated children’s books is doing well, according to Susanne Schneider, Rights Manager for Baumhaus, Boje and One Verlag (all part of the Bastei Lübbe family).
“It’s our most in-demand sector. Eastern Europe and Asia in particular are showing a huge interest in illustrated children’s books.” Right now, Schneider is fielding international requests for several books, including Poldi und Paulchen – Die große Pinguinparty (Poldi and Pauly: The Big Penguin Party) by Cristian and Fabian Jeremies, and Die kleine Spinne Widerlich (A Little Spider Named Yucky) by Diana Amft.
Tessloff, one of the top nonfiction children’s book publishers in Germany, is seeing a lot of interest in their books from Eastern Europe and Asia. “We are very successfully working together with South America, Eastern European, and Asian regions including Russia, China, and Vietnam”, says Helga Uhlemann, Communications & International Business Director at Tessloff.
Oetinger also sees success in similar areas. “We’re very lucky to have been internationally successful for years,” says Renate Reichstein, Rights Manager at Oetinger. “Asia — China and Korea in particular — Eastern Europe, the Balkan states, Scandinavia and the entire Spanish-speaking world are our biggest licensing markets right now.”
But even as German publishers enjoy good international licensing ties, there are always foreign markets to be developed. Michael Schweins, Publisher at arsEdition, knows the difficulties behind that: “The diverse nature of the markets and their different aesthetics are always an exciting challenge. In searching for common ground, openness is the key. We are looking for a European overview, we analyze various international markets, experience surprises and discover possibilities.”
In addition to the revenue generated by rights sales, some German publishers are also interested in doing their part to ensure that German books are published more widely around the world.
“Licensors in smaller countries often ask for smaller print runs which leads to higher printing costs. In this case, we try to minimize the license fees and reduce the prices for the print data to make it possible for these translations to be published, explains Saskia Heintz, Publishing Director of Children’s Book at Carl Hanser Verlag.