A proposal on foreign-language books

A consistent source of frustration for me is how difficult it is to find foreign-language books in the US — and how expensive they are when I do find them. I imagine much of the difficulty stems from shipping costs, but it seems like it would be relatively easy for some university press to arrange US-based reprints. In this day and age, they could even be print-on-demand titles.

Are there practical or legal obstacles to doing this?

7 Responses to “A proposal on foreign-language books”

  1. anna kornbluh Says:

    Do you know International Book Import Service?
    I haven’t used them lately, but in my experience they do euro cover price and no shipping charges or minimal US only shipping charges. I used to love buying German philosophy from a little southern business.

  2. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Very cool, but it’s not immediately clear to me how to use it.

  3. anna kornbluh Says:

    I think the best way is actually to call them (their number is in the banner); then they can tell you if the text is already in stock in their warehouse or if they can get it quickly or slowly.

  4. Sam Says:

    I’ve found the simplest solution is to simply order them from an online bookseller in the source country (e.g. amazon.de, kyobobook.co.kr, etc.). Granted, not all online booksellers support international shipping, but plenty do, and the total cost is generally pretty reasonable.

  5. Evgeni V. Pavlov (@evgenivpavlov) Says:

    It seems Americans aren’t really into reading foreign books – I doubt there is any financially feasible model here. Why not just order them through ILL and, if it’s worth the effort, scan oneself a nice PDF for personal use? Or order a bunch of them and only pay for shipping once.

  6. Evan Kuehn Says:

    Chicago has one of the few foreign language bookstores… Europa Books on the near north side. Although if you’re looking for academic books, you might have just as much luck at the Sem Co-op. There’s also Adler’s Foreign Books, which I’ve poked around in but never actually ordered from. In the end you’re right, though, there just isn’t much in the way of availability. I don’t see why a big press couldn’t distribute for foreign presses… they do that often enough for smaller presses.

  7. Evgeni V. Pavlov (@evgenivpavlov) Says:

    Obviously, the best solution is to become world famous and travel all over the world giving lectures, but then you’ll probably be paid shitloads of money so you won’t have the problem of trying to save on shipping fees…

Comments are closed.