I Sold My Soul in Germany February 26, 2009

I Sold My Soul in Germany

I got a nice little present in the mail on my birthday (coincidentally, of course).

It was the Germany version of I Sold My Soul on eBay! I’d known the book existed but I hadn’t yet gotten ahold of a copy.


It’s all about the exclamation point. That is *so* what the English version is lacking.

The best part of the package: It came with a certificate of congratulations from my Christian publishers (who are awesome, by the way). My favorite part was the line at the bottom. You might have to click on the picture for a larger version to see it:


It reads: “May the Lord continue to bless your book, giving it prolific distribution, vast readership, and a powerful impact!” 🙂

Christianity and capitalism: Gotta love it.

The book is nifty even though I can’t read a bit of it. I’ll just assume it’s what I wrote…

Now how do I get the German publishers to send me on a local book tour there…?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • What’s the German title mean?

    Congrats on getting your book translated, that’s pretty awesome. Are there any other foreign language editions coming out?

  • Erp

    Google translation:

    Biete soul – Seeking God,

    what an atheist in Christian communities experienced

    Admittedly one of the reviews on the German Amazon site described the translation as bumpy “including the somewhat meaningless title”.

  • Ben

    It is an odd title indeed. It’s two imperatives: “Offer (your) soul; Seek God!”

    “What an atheist experienced in Christian Communities.”

    Is that really what you want to have as the initial impression for people who pick up this book in the store?

  • As Erp says, Amazon reviewer is right, my wife speaks better German than me she translates it literally:

    “Beg/offer Soul, seeks God!”

    Not sure if this is the message you intend.

    Perhaps the publishers genuinely thought it was a Christian title! 😀

  • Aah too late to edit.

    Discussed it with the wife and she thinks the best way to read it to make sense is…

    “Offer your soul, God is looking for it.”

    That’s more likely, probably have to consult a German.

  • CGatsby

    @Lex Fear
    I’m German and I’m sorry to say that there’s no way that your (and your wife’s) translation (“Offer your soul, God is looking for it.”) is correct.

    The syntax of the title is a variation of a phrase typically used in German classified ads. The pattern is: “Suche X, biete Y” (Seek X, Offer Y) or vice versa. The title itself indicates, in the most obvious interpretation, that a (lost) soul is looking for a (proper) god. The subtitle (subheading?) pushes it in another direction, but it is still misleading, if you ask me.

    By the way, has anyone noticed that Hemant’s book seems to be a perfect match for a book by a renowned German theologian. His book is called: “Gott. Eine kleine Geschichte des Groessten”. That’s strange.

  • Charlie

    I’m German too and I agree with the person who posted before me, I’d roughly translate as: “I offer my soul, I seek (or: I look for) God”.

    I’d love you to come to Germany!

  • Yeah, book tour of Germany! Altought I’ve read it in English 🙂

    PS about the translation: CGatsby got it right

  • Oooh yes yes come to Munich please please.

  • @CGatsby,

    Well thanks for the cultural insight, but why wouldn’t the book title read:

    “Ich verkauft mein seele auf Ebay”?

    Literally: “I sold my soul on Ebay”

    My translation is a little off but it’s the same meaning. Offering my soul, looking for God.

    Seeking/Seeks/Looking for God, definitely sounds like the translator was taking liberties, or thought Hermant was a Christian – the English version doesn’t even mention God (Gott).

    Probably the reason for the publishers blessing it! 😀

  • Jeff Satterley

    It’s weird that the translated title doesn’t mention eBay, but they made the cover font look like the eBay logo. Unless that’s just a coincidence, then its kind of an ugly cover.

  • CGatsby

    @Lex Fear
    Don’t get me started on German translations of English titles, it’s weird. Many films, books and games have English titles in Germany as well. But surprisingly, they differ from the respective original titles. The film ‘Taken’ for example is (literally) called ’96 Hours’. Many German publishers think English titles may seem better, but don’t expect Germans to understand the original titles. So they keep the English titles, but dumb them down.

    I don’t know what the German publishers were thinking. According to German wikipedia they are a christian evangelical company, so they may have thought it would be wise to squeeze god into the title.

  • Funny, Google Translate (super reliable, right?) gives the translation as:

    God offers soul search

  • Woody Tanaka

    According to babel fish, it is:

    “Offer soul look for God!
    Which a Atheist in Christian municipalities experienced.”

  • Changing titles is a very common tactic, not just with books, not just in German. (For instance, “The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo” is the English rename of the Swedish “Men Who Hate Women”; “Paper Moon” is “Brilliant Cons” in Russian.) It’s not “dumbing down” – or at least doesn’t have to be, though sometimes it can result from not quite getting a title (“A Bridge Too Far” becomes “A Distant Crossing” in Russian). In fact, NOT doing it can be dumb. The movie “Love is a Four Letter Word” was translated literally into Russian … but “love” is a six-letter word in Russian, so “Lyubov is a Word with Four Letters”? WTF?

    The reasoning is to find something that will resonate with the new audience, not just reflect the old one, particularly if the old one is culture or language bound. “I sold my X on e-Bay” is a common English saying/joke; is the literal translation common in German? Putting it in personal-speak (SWA seeks church) makes sense: Hemant didn’t of course sell his soul, he sold his time.

    As for the “blessing” – don’t several of the reviewers in this country suggest Christians read this book to learn how to reach out to atheists?

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