Book Distribution and Logistics

for Publishers and Authors Expanding to the German, Austrian and Swiss Markets

You have written or published a book? The book is selling well and it's time to promote the translation and take on new markets?

The German book market is very isolated from the other European markets due to complicated pricing rules and unclear distribution channels. In addition, if you don't speak German, it becomes very difficult to communicate with the right person to get the relevant information.

We also offer consulting for international publishers, so you can get help with everything around the distribution and establishment on the German market, such as negotiating contracts with German wholesalers or applying for German VAT registration with the German tax authorities.

Book Distribution and Logistics for Publishers and Authors Expanding to the German, Austrian and Swiss Markets

For a book to be available in a German bookshop, it must be available from a wholesaler in Germany (bookshops in Austria and Switzerland can also be reached via the German wholesalers). There are hardly any bookshops in Germany that order directly from publishers (even fewer from foreign publishers). However, wholesalers in Germany only buy books from foreign publishers who have a distributor in Germany who takes care of the logistics and invoicing.

We offer publishers and authors outside Germany the opportunity to benefit from our experience in the German-speaking market, by offering to take care of your logistics and distribution of books in the German-speaking market, but also with advice. We offer both publisher logistics, i.e. between warehouse and wholesaler (or bookstore), but also consumer logistics between warehouse and customer, if you also run your own webshop in Germany.

We can offer the following services:

  • Personal contacts, incl. counseling about the German speaking publishing market. We do not simply store and ship your books. We make sure you get the information you need to get established on the German book market.
  • Storage space for your books in our facilities in Mannheim. If needed, we can also organize translations and printing of your book in Germany. 
  • Climate compensated shipping of your books to stores, wholesalers and/or customers. Domestic and international (incl. export from the European Union to Switzerland). Very low minimal charges. If needed, we can also take care of the billing with the wholesalers. 
  • Transparent costs: We only charge for each shipment (+ a low storage fee, if you want to store many books). This means, you have to pay us, after you receive an order. We do not charge a fixed or proportional fee of the book price. Instead we work with all-inclusive-prices per shipment.
  • ISBN: If needed, we can provide you with German ISBNs (19 € per ISBN). The advantage of using our ISBN is that you do not need your own contracts with the German wholesalers. But, the disadvantage is that we will be listed as the publisher in the relevant databanks. If you want to use your own ISBN, we can help you negiotiate contracts with the wholesalers. 
  • We can also help you with the production of e-Books and Audiobooks for the German market.
The road to the german speaking book markets in Austria, Switzerland and Germany

FAQ - Book Distribution and Logistics in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

FAQ - Book distribution and logistics in Germany

What steps need to be taken for my translation to be published in Germany?

1) Complete the translation and decide on your own or a purchased ISBN (see below). Print the book.

2) Register the book in the VLB (Verzeichnis Lieferbarer Bücher). Submit the legal deposits.

3) Deliver the book to the distributor in Germany.

4) Wholesalers buy the book.

5) Bookshops can buy the book from wholesalers.

What happens when wholesalers buy my book? What discounts apply in Germany?

Wholesalers order either directly from the distributor or from the publisher, depending on who handles the invoicing.

In Germany, wholesalers buy the books. The discount for wholesalers is 50% of the fixed final price. If a bookshop orders directly from the publisher, the discount is 35 % of the fixed final price.

What is the effect of fixed-book prices in Germany and Austria?

In Germany and Austria there is no free pricing of books, but the publisher decides how much the book costs. And then all shops and online stores have to sell the book for exactly that price.

In Switzerland, the bookshops themselves decide the price of the book, much like in Sweden. However, it is common to print a recommended price on the back of the book.

Should I use my own ISBN or get a German ISBN?

If you use your own ISBN, you will have to sign an agreement with the wholesalers yourself in order for the book to be listed there. With your own ISBN, it is not enough to send the book to a distributor, because wholesalers do not take ISBNs that they do not know. Without German language skills, it is relatively difficult to negotiate agreements with wholesalers, but we are happy to help.

An alternative is to use an ISBN from the distributor. But, then the distributor will be listed as the publisher of the book.

What is the obligation to deliver legal deposits of my translation?

In Germany: books published outside Germany, but intended for the German market, must be legaly deposited in Germany. For foreign publishers, the National Library in Leipzig collects one (1) copy of the book.

In Austria: Books published by foreign publishers must only be deposited in Austria if they are printed inside Austria. Imported books do not have to be deposited. Which libraries and how many copies depend on the province in which the book is printed.

Switzerland is one of the few countries in the world which has no compulsory legal deposits at all.

Do I have to register for and pay VAT in Germany?

If the distributor handles the invoicing with the wholesellers: Probably not, but please discuss your specific case with a German Tax Advisor.

If you handle the invoicing with the wholesellers yourself: Yes, as the books are stored in Germany, you will be liable for VAT in Germany and will need a German VAT number and to declare VAT in Germany. We strongly recommend that you seek the help of a German tax advisor, especially if you do not speak German. There is no possibility to speak English or submit English language certificates to the German tax authorities. Here are the responsible tax agencies for the most common English speaking countries: UK - Hannover Nord, Ireland - Hamburg Nord, USA - Bonn Innenstadt, Australia and New Zealand - Berlin Neukölln.

The VAT rate for books in Germany is 7%, in Austria 10% and in Switzerland 2.5%.

Should I print in Germany or deliver the books to Germany?

It makes no difference for the distribution. It is a purely economic question, whether it is cheaper and/or faster to print closer (due to shorter transport) to the distributor or not.

What is the Verzeichnis Lieferbarer Bücher (VLB)?

It is the central database of all titles that are currently available for order from German-language booksellers. Without entering the books here, they cannot be ordered from any bookshop in Germany, Switzerland or Austria. In addition, this information is important to demonstrate compliance with the book price fixing rules.