What is the correct preposition to use with the author of a book? For example, "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare. I think you should use von, Hamlet von William Shakespeare but I have seen bei used, especially with the publisher;

unter dem Titel « Invisible » bei Henry Holt

3 Answers 3


Von is used to refer to the author: "Hamlet von Shakespeare" or "Faust von Goethe". Note that especially for classical (well-known) literature, another form is often used: "Shakespeares Hamlet" or "Goethes Faust" (not on a book cover, but when e.g. talking about a book).

Bei is used to refer to the publisher. Your example means that the book was published under the title "Invisible" by the publisher "Henry Holt". Bei is never used for the author. The complete wording would be

Erschienen/veröffentlicht unter dem Titel X bei Henry Holt


The correct preposition is von.

Though it's true that bei is often used referring to the publisher of a book; it can be a short form of "bei ... erschienen":

Alle ihre Romane sind bei Rowohlt erschienen.

I guess using bei instead of von is a common mistake made by native English speakers, because bei is a homonym to the English by.

The preposition bei has another literature-related function in German. If you want to describe how a writer depicts something or some people ("im Werk eines Autors"), like in this example:

Die Leute kamen mir vor wie die englische Oberschicht bei Agatha Christie.

  • Note that the "bei" in rsrobbins' last example is correct, since Henry Holt is the publisher, not the author. Just if you thought that this was an instance of this indeed plausible mistake. If not, never mind ;) Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 15:52
  • @OregonGhost I was primarily referring to the title of the question which asks for the author's preposition. My second paragraph is about the publisher. :)
    – splattne
    Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 16:06
  • Wasn't there when I commented - +1 for the example "im Werk eines Autors" ;) Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 16:08

This may not be directly related to your application, but bei is occasionally used when citing authors in scientific works.

Bei Einstein (1905) hat die Lichtgeschwindigkeit in jedem Bezugssystem denselben Wert.

Bei Milgram (1961) zeigte sich, dass sich die Mehrzahl der Durchschnittsmenschen von angeblichen Autoritäten dazu bewegen lässt, andere Menschen systematisch zu misshandeln.

I made these two up, but that is generally how you would use it.

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