Title Protection and Imprint in German books

In this post, I’ll briefly cover a couple more legal requirements that are good to know before publishing a book in Germany. You can read about taxation, the fixed book price law, and copyright and royalties for translators in earlier posts.

Title Protection

German book titles are automatically protected (that means nobody else can use the exact same title) as soon as the book is published. Before publishing, make sure your title is not already in use. The easiest way to find out would probably be a simple search on Amazon.de or Buchhandel.de for a start. Authors can also protect their dream title half a year in advance by publishing an ad on a site like Buchmarkt for less than 20 €. But it’s not necessary, unless you are absolutely set on this title and want to make sure nobody can snatch it away from you before you had a chance to publish.

Another thing about titles: Make sure the translated title makes sense and doesn’t sound awkward in German and consider changing it to something with a similar meaning. Here, your translator should be able to give input. Many German translations end up with different titles from the original (an example: “Hunger Games” became “Tribute von Panem” = Tributes of Panem). The same is true for the cover: Make sure it resonates with the target audience. Different cultural expectations may require cover image tweaks. Read here about Joanna Penn’s experiences with choosing a cover for the German translation of her thriller.

Imprint Requirement

An imprint is required for any print book or ebook published in Germany as well as any website used for commercial purposes. The imprint must contain:

The name of the author or publisher, and a summonable address (a real location, not an email address or P.O. box)

The only ones who will be troubled by this requirement are authors who want to use a pseudonym and who want that pen name to remain absolutely secret. If such is the case, there are ways to get around adding your own name and address. For example, some distributors will act as a publisher and automatically add their own imprint to your book.

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