It has been a very long time coming, but after numerous government rulings and court cases, the German literary translators' association VDÜ has reached an agreement with a group of publishers on pay.
The agreement states, in essence, that translators should be paid an appropriate fee for their work and sets an absolute minimum fee, a basic fee and a special fee for difficult translations. It specifies additional services such as cutting texts or extraordinary research that shall be paid separately. Most importantly, the agreement provides for a one-percent royalty on every copy sold, not offset against the basic fee. The royalty decreases with higher sales figures and if the publisher goes on to publish a paperback edition. Higher royalties are specified for e-books.
The translators' association and publishers' representatives will meet every two years to discuss whether the basic fees are still appropriate.
This is the most progress that has been made in this area since 2002. On the down side, only six publishers have signed up to the agreement, which is valid as of 1 April. The VDÜ hopes that others, especially the major publishing groups, will join them for the sake of stability. So do I.
Börsenblatt has a report on the press conference, featuring a lot of smiling faces.