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 thoughts on “A proposal on foreign-language books

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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