A panel yesterday at the London Book Fair addressed the threat of English-language editions books cannibalizing or otherwise supplanting sales of translated books, as the TikTok generation is increasingly happy to read in English.

Key European markets are seeing rapid growth in English language sales, according to figures supplied by Ingram. In Germany, sales rose from £102 million ($130m) in 2021 to £130m ($166m) last year, an increase of 27%, and in Spain the rise was from £51m ($65m) to £67m ($85.8m), an uplift of 30%. In Holland, growth was more modest, from £45m ($58m) to £47m ($60m), and in Sweden the market was flat, but not insignificant. The total European market for English language books in 2022 was £4.1 billion ($5.2b), up 8% year on year.

The implications of this rise in English-language sales were considered by a panel during a session on day one of this year's London Book Fair (LBF), moderated by Andrea Joyce of Joyce Literary Rights Agency.

Genevieve Waldmann of Dutch publishers Veen Bosch & Keuning (VBK), observed that "A lot of young people want to read English books," but if the trend continued, "in five to ten years there will be no translations any more because we can't afford it." The net effect would be that "we will have to look for local heroes, or go to Eastern Europe or Asia for authors."

Rebecca Servadio from London Literary Scouting pointed out that with the local editions two or three times the price in trade paperback with the same jacket, it was no wonder people chose the cheaper English edition.

David Graham, chair of IPG and managing director of BT Batsford, said that there had been a view amongst British trade publishers that "If we don't sell [English-language editions], what's to stop the Americans from coming in and cleaning up?" He now believes that the local publisher, because of superior sales, marketing and retail knowledge in the market, will always be able to sell more of their translated edition than the British publisher ever would.

Rebecca Servadio said: "There needs to be conversation about why should English dominate. Do you want to live in a mono-culture? It's depressing."

Genevieve Waldmann concluded by saying: "We have to keep the reader reading, that's why we were put on earth!"