Re-Framing the debate on translation: How translated books escape the niche, and lots of new ventures replace old gatekeepers
May 23, 2014 by ruediger

The debate on translation is old – and not always very forthcoming: Translations of (notably fiction) books are seen as difficult to sell, costly to produce (due to the cost of translation), while translators, for good reasons, complain about the low pay. And translations are only a meager 3 percent in English language markets anyway.

Is this the dull end of the story about the value of diversity? Or isn’t this the perfect starting point to re-frame the debate?

Translated fiction has suddenly exploded – say Stieg Larsson, but also that 100 year old guy. Even in the United Kingdom, translated books are cool, as The Bookseller has told us today: “Sales of translated titles surge“. 

At BookExpo America, we work on that topic for over a year now, and have discovered loads of surprises: Those many many new ventures taking translation – and its dissemination – into their own hands (not waiting for gate keepers). Those many translation grant initiatives, from a wild diversity of organizations and countries – which you can use, without giving up control over editorial. How digital and the internat and social media make communication with spread out, fragmented, highly specialized targed audiences the norm – not a pitfall and pain.

A long catalogue of questions, and solutions, has emerged. Followed by enormous response to our initial invitation:

Join us for the Global Market Forum: Books in Translation. Wanderlust for the written word. (Oh, and this is my personal pleasure: The idea about the “wanderlust” came from my US colleagues – making me happy that Kindergarten and Schlagbaum are not the only German words in English!).

For the details, find this nice summary from The Bean – by BEA director Steven Rosato. Or come and debate with us Books in Translation, next week, in New York.

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