This is really just a general question, I did open up an author central page in the UK, and then the DE when those stores became active, but I really haven't done it since. Personally I'm a little surprised that you have to open multiple accounts, I would have thought that Amazon could just link then across all the different storefronts.
Also as I don't read Japanese at all navigating a page for that storefront would be a pain. So, how many of you are going to open an Author Central account on the Japan server? How many of you have them on more than just the American server?
I was going to, but then I was told that because of the language barrier, the site would only cater to the Japanese market at present. Until and unless there is a thriving market for English speaking products, I don't think there's much point in setting up an account there.
That is an excellent point. English has become the spoken and written language around the planet. My business does transactions across most international markets. The only time a language barrier has presented itself was in certain parts of South America.
I was in Korea back in the 1980s. I asked a lady on the street for directions and she indicated through gestures that she didn't speak English. But, she took out a pen and paper and had me write my question. She wrote the answer back in English. They were taught to read and write English but not taught to speak it. That was an odd concept for me back then.
These days, it is funny to hear one of my coworkers ask someone "Do you speak English" when the phone is answered in their native language. "Of course I speak English.". Most times, they speak better English than we do in the states.
(No comment on the previous duck jokes? I didn't mean to resort to duck jokes, it just seemed apropos to the multilingual conversation topic.)
I cannot speak for the general population. But, in my day job, we do business across many parts of Asia. All agreements, email and phone conversations are in English. All transactions are done in U.S. Dollars.
The business people seem to be fluent.
It has been my experience that you can pick the poorest country on the planet. If you travel to that country and find the poorest person, they will speak an average of three languages. In the U.S., we speak one and will not talk to anyone unless they speak it.
Personally, I speak English fluently, Spanish and Korean conversationally. (Conversationally = speak well enough to get into a fight, but not well enough to get out of one.)
EDIT: There was a language barrier in Asia a few years back. We had a product that was like beef jerky only made from duck meat. The product was "Duck Sticks". They were very popular and in high demand until the ingredients were scrutinized. They contained regular duck meat and not meat from duck reproductive organs. (Say the product name out loud a couple times and you will understand.)
One of my mysteries was reprinted in Japan, in Japanese, of course. It's long out of print, but I'm sure there are lots of authors whose books have been translated. I just visited the site and did a search. Naturally, I chose to search for my last name, just in case someone had an old copy they were selling. Thrasher Magazine is apparently popular in Japan. (It's about skateboarding, not me.) I just looked up Stephen King and his books in English are listed as well as the Japanese versions. All the product info is in Japanese, although what I assume is the author rank is written in both Japanese and ... what do you call our numbers? English numbers? Whatever. I can read the numbers. I didn't see an author bio on the Japanese versions, although I might have been clicking on the wrong thing. But King could certainly add one, and so could other authors.
Sadly, I learned my Spanish and Korean on the streets. Why do they always teach the curse words first.
Korean is a fun language. Although, there are many many similar words to English that mean something TOTALLY different.
It reminds me of one of the marketing mistakes made. Everyone is familiar with the Chevy Nova. They spent millions advertising it in South America but did not sell a single car. "No Va" means No Go.
Back last century in the 1980s, there was a spinoff of Happy Days called "Joanie Loves Chachi". The pilot episode held the all time highest rankings for a pilot episode viewed. Almost no one tuned in to the next episode.
In Korean Chagi (pronounced very closely to Chachi) is the term for the male reproductive organ.
Oh, and never say kundingi knocka knocka ton mugga chugaley.
As someone who lives and works in Japan, here's my two cents worth.
If you want to have an author page in Japanese just do it using Google Translate, or something similar. However, keep your sentences very short otherwise it'll garble them. I can tell a mile off when a student has used a translator to write a report because any sentence over about eight words is an unreadable mess.
Also, while there are obviously 128m people here, hardly anyone speaks English or has an interest in reading English language books. I'd put the potential market at less than 1%. Of course, you have the half a million or so expats, but, like me, they mostly have overseas Amazon accounts that they use already. In general the school system is orientated towards repetition and grammar translation, so it doesn't particularly encourage students to develop an interest in English. Unlike somewhere like India, English is not widely used except on street signs, TV jingles and product names. In addition, they also have their own huge media market so there's not a great demand for overseas writers, musicians, or artists. There is, of course, a niche market, but that's exactly what it is, a niche.
Of course, I hope I'm wrong and everyone gets thousands of sales but I'd be surprised if I top my German sales which currently stand at 2 in nine months. Personally all I care about is Amazon hopefully following this by opening up Createspace in Japan so I can order paperbacks for my friends without getting dinged for $20 postage per copy from the USA.