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Wondering about Publishing

global_gizzy's picture

I have been wondering for a few days now about publishing works in Esperanto.

I've checked Esperanto-USA and if there is anything here about publishing, then I missed it. My working knowledge of Esperanto is still very, very limited and so I wont even risk the embarrassment by 'declaring' that the same is true on the UEA site. But I'm just wondering how one would go about publishing something.

I have several short, beginning reader type stories that I've written over the years either for my own amusement or for my younger siblings to read and I would like to translate them all into Esperanto. I'm probably going to be hosting them online at my website but it got me to thinking about how to go about publishing a book in Esperanto and having it available from the retbutiko here.

This is an issue I've never seen addressed. I looked at the store and while there are a lot of books, it seems that almost all of them are older works. I think the most recent books I saw were from 1998. I could've missed more recent books as I didn't check through every single page or click on every single item.

Anyway, I'm just wondering about how one would go about publish a book in Esperanto.

If I wrote a book, could I send it to a regular publisher? That doesn't seem logical since they cant read/understand it they will most likely refuse to publish the work at all.

Is there a publishing company known for working with Esperantists? If so, who are they?

by global_gizzy


Self-publishing at zero cost.

Aplonis's picture

I stumbled upon this topic late as it is in English and I don't usually browse this site in English. But you can do it all on your own, if you are willing to forsake all profit. Using the program Calibre you can create and edit ebooks all on your own. Then just put them up on a website which you also own.

I would recommend doing as I do. Set up a project and ask for volunteers. You can get help with proofreading at zero cost if by example you are clearly donating for free your own time and effort.

You can even, if you are willing to pay, purchase translation rights from an author...if that author has retained such rights to himself. This is what I have been so very fortunate as to do. Way back in the 1990's I was so bold as to write letters to my favorite author, Jack Vance. His wife Norma wrote back and said it would be okay with them if I wanted to do a story or two in Esperanto. I got enthused with the project and...after the first story was done...telephoned Jack Vance's house (which I found listed in the white pages). Jack Vance himself answered the phone and asked what I was willing to pay. I offered up $500 as that highest amount I could then afford and for which I'd not have to answer too very badly to my wife for the expense. He accepted and it was done.

Sadly Jack died in 2013, and his wife Norma some years before him. But their son John remembers the time when later I'd gone to visit the house while volunteering on a project in English called the Vance Integral edition. I emailed him after his father's death and he kindly extended my rights. So the project continues. You may find it here.

April 20, 2015 by Aplonis, 2 years 21 weeks ago

Translating and publishing . . .

Lee Miller's picture

It might be a little premature to be thinking about publishing, but translation is an excellent tool to use while you're learning the language. And we never know where new talent is going to emerge. So I think your plan to translate your stories is an excellent one.

It's important to have someone read your translations and give you feedback. I'd suggest that you start out translating a short passage, and then have an experienced Esperanto speaker correct it so you can spot any errors or problems right away--rather than waiting until you've translated a lot, and may have reinforced those errors by repetition.

If you do ever get to the point of wanting to publish something, work with a skilled proofreader. And generally in Esperanto it's a good idea to ask someone to read your material whose first language isn't English. The grammar and structures of our first language always influence what we produce, and input from a speaker of another language can help us avoid "anglicisms" that we'd otherwise be unaware of.


March 12, 2009 by Lee Miller, 8 years 27 weeks ago

I don't mean to sound

russ's picture

I don't mean to sound flippant, but these are the sorts of questions which, if you need to ask, you're not ready to write Esperanto for publication. It's putting the cart before the horse.

I.e. if someone can't read and write a language (e.g. consider German or French instead of Esperanto) yet, and so of course is not really very familiar with the language's culture, literature, history, publishing, etc, they wouldn't ask "How can I publish the stuff I'm going to write in this language?"

So don't worry, by the time you are writing publication-worthy Esperanto, you will know the answers to these sorts of questions. :) Meanwhile, study and learn, write and speak and practice Esperanto!

March 11, 2009 by russ, 8 years 27 weeks ago

I didn't mean I want to publish

global_gizzy's picture

I dont mean I want to publish books in Esperanto. I was just explaining why I was asking.

I was cleaning up in my room a while ago and collected together 15 short, "easy-reader" stories that I've written over the years. I was going to throw them out, but decided I'd rather make them into a web-publishing project. So I saved in a folder at home.

About a week or two ago I was looking through Esperanto books online at google books and the E-USA store and I noticed how terribly old most of them seemed to be and I began to wonder why there are so little or no RECENT Esperanto books available. I concluded that it must be pretty hard to get anything published in Esperanto in the US.

Later, riding home in the car, I was trying to plan a reasonable self-teaching curriculum for myself and decided that one of my bi-monthly benchmarks should be to write some work in Esperanto. Since there seems to be a severe shortage of personal/ specific interest-sites available in Esperanto (at least I have trouble finding them! In 3 months, I've seen about 4 sites in Esperanto.) I decided that I might just as well host both English and Esperanto versions of the stories when I finally get around to putting them up. That's the extent of my personal interest in publishing in Esperanto. I only mean to translate my "easy-reader" stories into Esperanto as a learning tool/experience for myself.

But the whole thing got me to thinking, after a few days of searching I got nothing of use from the net so I decided to ask here and see what everyone else knew about the matter.

Yet, typing this all out I cant help but wonder why Esperanto organizations like this one dont seem to acknowledge that some of the Esperantists may be wanting to publish some books for the community. After all, the ONLY books for us seem to be those BY US, which is ofcourse understandable. It just seems like there ought to be an easy, or atleast well-known process for anyone who's interested is all.

This is a signature.
Jen estas subskribo.

I'm a beginner.
Mi estas komencanto.

March 11, 2009 by global_gizzy, 8 years 27 weeks ago

Esperanto publishers and websites

russ's picture is a US publisher of Esperanto books. (And of course Esperanto-USA itself publishes the occasional book.)

Outside the US, off the top of my head and and publish a lot of books, and there are actually quite a lot of other Esperanto publishers in various countries. Too long a list for me to remember and type them all. :)

Aha, but Vikipedio has a lot of them listed, I see:

If you've found only 3 or 4 Esperanto websites, you need to improve your google-fu. :) (With an Advanced Search you can select the language of websites returned by a google search - it even works reliably sometimes, though not always. :) Another trick is to include "estas" and "la" in your search to filter out most non-Esperanto sites while still catching most Esperanto sites.

There are thousands of Esperanto websites, ranging from huge (like Vikipedio) to blogs and news sites to small personal sites where someone talks about some specific hobby or book or whatever.

Just reading Vikipedio articles about a subject of interest, you can often find links to external websites with more information about the subject.

You might also want to search yahoogroups or googlegroups for "Esperanto" to find many mailing lists on diverse subjects from programming to cats to literature to boardgames to whatever.


March 12, 2009 by russ, 8 years 27 weeks ago


global_gizzy's picture

Dankon for the tips.

I felt that there had to be more sites in Esperanto that weren't just about Esperanto and it was driving me nuts that I couldn't find them.
I'll have to check out eo-Wikipedia articles more and try and find the other sites.

I'll also train my google-fu to be more precise and to capture more useful sites :).

This is a signature.
Jen estas subskribo.

I'm a beginner.
Mi estas komencanto.

March 13, 2009 by global_gizzy, 8 years 27 weeks ago

Self Publishing

Dachjo RUTAN's picture

If you don't mind a learning curve, it's possible to sef publish via a 'Print on Demand' service (POD) such as CafePress. While I can't say to have actually done this in Esperanto, I do have something in the works.

The problem would be you'll need knowledge of a good word processor that supports supersigned letters, a way to output your 'book' as a pdf file, and knowledge of a photo editor for the cover.

I've used a POD to publish an English only book of a few short stories I wrote and the book looks pretty good. Like I said though, it was up to me to format the text, proofread, design the cover, etc.


March 11, 2009 by Dachjo RUTAN, 8 years 27 weeks ago


Torĉjo's picture

I have used both cafepress and to publish books, one of which was in Esperanto. will give your book an ISBN number if you want it, but they are pricier and a bit trickier to use than cafepress. Both produce excellent books, but I generally only use lulu when I want color pictures in the interior of the book. Cafepress book interiors are strictly B&W. Both allow full color covers, and lulu has some stock cover pictures you can use if you don't want to create your own cover.

Any word processor or other page layout program that can export or print to PDF should work fine, just make sure the pages are set-up to be the same page size as your book will be, and that you include the fonts in the PDF file.

March 11, 2009 by Torĉjo, 8 years 27 weeks ago

Publishing in Esperanto

Tim Westover's picture

This is a subject I'm rather passionate about (being Esperanto-USA's chairperson for publishing, as well as an author).

You're right that you can't send a book in Esperanto to just any-old publisher -- they wouldn't be able to read it, and they don't know how to market it.

The Esperanto publishing market seems to operate parallel to the rest of the world's. It's hard to walk into Barnes & Noble's and order an Esperanto-language book. Even a search on Amazon will only uncover a handful of titles (public domain reprints or a few books provided by more progressive, US-based Esperanto publishers such as Mondial).

Most of Esperanto bookselling occurs through the various "libro-servoj" (book services) provided by Esperanto organizations. Esperanto-USA's is probably the largest in North America, and UEA's the largest world-wide. FEL is another, and I know there are more. (I would actually appreciate a more complete list of libroservoj, if anyone knows of others.)

These libroservoj purchase and resell books from various Esperanto publishers worldwide. These publishers include Mondial, Kava-Pech, Eldona Societo Esperanto, Edistudio, Impeto, Sezonoj, Bero, and others. National and international organizations are often the publishers for textbooks and dictionaries -- UEA, Esperanto-USA, Esperanto Association of Britian, etc.

Book publishing in Esperanto faces many challenges. International distribution (with shipping, customs, taxes, etc.) is complicated. Some countries have very unreliable mail; some countries use currencies that aren't accepted by countries where libroservoj are located (nepagipovantaj landoj) -- people in these countries have a hard time buying anything from overseas. In-person book sales are very limited -- congresses / meetings and a mere handful physical stores worldwide. Publishers are small, libroservoj are small. Best-sellers are measured in dozens of copies, not hundreds or thousands. UEA provides a list of its bestsellers -- the top fifteen Internet-ordered titles have sold between 21 and 7 copies in the last three months. Obviously, this is just one seller and one channel, but it's indicative of the quantity of books sold.

When you order a book from Esperanto-USA, you might actually be getting a new book (as in, you're the first owner) from the 1980's, 1970's, 1960's, even the 1920's. These were books produced in modest quantities many decades ago (1,000 or 500 copies) that just haven't sold out.

There are success stories, though, for certain titles. For example, Boris Kolker's Vojaĝo en Esperanto-Lando has sold thousands of copies in the last few years. Esperanto-USA has sold several hundred copies of the giant "Plena Manlibro de Esperanto-Gramatiko" over the last three years, and our "Esperanto: Learning and Using the International Language" is well into its third printing of 1,500 copies.

Every year, La Ondo de Esperanto publishes a good round-up of the previous year's publishing activity (actually, which books appeared in UEA's list of "New books" -- this doesn't perfectly correspond with all books actually published; it includes both books in Esperanto and books about Esperanto but in other languages). 2009's report for 2008 hasn't appeared yet, but here are the statistics for 2007:

184 new books were published in or about Esperanto (and listed with UEA)
93 different publishers
23 books were literary works (prose, poetry, plays) originally written in Esperanto
36 books were translated literary works
36 were textbooks, dictionaries, etc.
49 were books about Esperanto or constructed languages


UEA provides a list of the latest books they've added to their catalog at (RSS: Esperanto-USA has a similar list of new arrivals by month -- for March, there are two listings of used, older PIV's (still a good deal, BTW), but I'm sure that more works will go up over the course of the month.

So, all of this leads me into a plan that I'm getting close to implementing for my own collection of short stories. Publishing will be a split effort between a paper book published through Amazon's BookSurge POD program and a free, PDF e-book available for download under a Creative Commons license. I think this method (POD + PDF) is going to be the future of Esperanto publishing. POD (print-on-demand) allows for even low-quantity books to be published economically and not have to be warehoused for fifty years. PDF gets around the complications of international distribution. Those who want a paper copy and have access to Amazon or an Esperanto libroservo can get a paper copy; those who are happy with a PDF or don't have the access can download a PDF or have one e-mailed to them by a friend.

I'm going to be posting more about my POD + PDF efforts in the future. Right now, the book is in editing, but I'm hoping it will be available for purchase / download before the Esperanto-USA kongreso in May.

March 10, 2009 by Tim Westover, 8 years 27 weeks ago

The POD + PDF model

hoss's picture

Tim, is it your plan to make the PDF version available for free under some sort of share-alike license like Creative Commons, or do you hope to charge for the PDF as well?

For whatever it's worth, I'd like to make two requests:

  • Add a markup language to your list of formats. PDF is nice, but in spite of its name, the format really isn't very portable. For anything but printed media, PDF has serious usability shortcomings: fixed presentation size, no word wrap, etc.

    A richly tagged format like DocBook or TEI would be perfect, but the formatting requires a lot of work, and few word processors will export to these formats. A workable alternative is to make everything available in (X)HTML. Obviously HTML can be displayed in any web browser, and it's easily converted to a variety of other formats. (Consider the growing market for ebook readers, for example.)

  • Use this POD + HTML publishing model for all future E-USA projects. If possible, retroactively apply it to older titles like the Richardson textbook, “Being Colloquial,” etc.

Finally, a question:

Is it possible for E-USA to make use of Amazon's infrastructure and payment system? The E-USA bookstore is wonderful, but Amazon is increasingly becoming the place to look for books online. I've occasionally spoken to new students who were interested in buying/browsing Esperanto titles, but who gave up when they found virtually nothing on Amazon. (Of course I then told them about the libroservo, but the point is that this is yet another way that Esperanto remains unnecessarily “invisible” to the general public.)

It would be especially easy to integrate Amazon into an electronic publishing model now that the Kindle store has taken off. All you have to do is upload an HTML file; Amazon will convert it to Kindle format and sell it for you. Even if the Kindle market remains small, the same ebooks are now available to a huge market of iPhone users, and further platforms are expected soon.

March 11, 2009 by hoss, 8 years 27 weeks ago


Tim Westover's picture

The PDF version will be free, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. This was actually one reason I decided to self-publish rather than work with existing Esperanto publishers -- I feel pretty strongly that the PDF version should be free.

You make an excellent point about PDF. It's a good standard for distributing files to be printed, but not for much else. I'll add an HTML version that will be freely available. This would likely also be the source that others would reprint from; I want to encourage others to reprint individual stories as they see fit.

I don't have much experience with other, more sophisticated markup formats -- perhaps that will come later.

timwestover (che) yahoo (punkto) com

March 11, 2009 by Tim Westover, 8 years 27 weeks ago

Contact us / Kontaktu Nin

Contact Us / Kontaktu Nin:

Landa Kongreso * 2017 June 30 - July 3 * Annual Congress

EO Esperanto: La Landa Kongreso 2017 okazos en Raleigh, Nord-Karolino, Usono, 2017 ekde la 30-a de junio ĝis la 3-a de julio, 2017.
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EN English: The Annual US Esperanto Congress 2017 will be in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, Jun 30 - July 3, 2017.
To sign up, see: Registration

NASK * 2017 jul 4 - 13 * Summer Courses

EO Esperanto: La bonega kursaro NASK - Nord-Amerika Somera Kursaro okazos de la 4-a de Julio ĝis la 7-a de Julio ĉe Raleigh, Norda Karolino, ĉe la Universitato William Peace. Por vidi pli da detaloj aŭ aliĝi, klaketu ligilon NASK.

EN English: The excellent North American Esperanto Summer Courses (NASK), will be happening from July 4 to 13th, at William Peace University, in Raleigh, North Carolina. To see more details or sign up, click on NASK.


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