Offering a training programme on innovation and cultural diversity in literary translations launched for small and medium-sized publishers.

5 renowned book industry organizations team up, with support from Creative Europe, to disseminate market insights and practical learnings about novel approaches in publishing.


Apply now for the SIDT innovation training modules

The SIDT initiative – standing for “Sustaining and Innovating cultural Diversity in literary Translations” – introduces a pilot project for professional trainings to small and medium sized independent publishers, distributors, and retailers across Europe.

These actors often spearhead translations of new literary voices across Europe. But in an increasingly competitive market for cultural media, including books, making such cultural diversity work commercially, too, has become a challenge to many stakeholders.

Literature needs to be catered to multiple niche audiences, in print and digital, across various distribution channels, and marketed through dedicated communities of readers. This requires venturing into innovative business and delivery practices, driven by digital tools and platforms.

Overall, 4 different training modules of around 10 to 12 hours each will be offered to interested practitioners, first between April and June 2021, and then a second time in the autumn of this year. Topics will range from “digitization of the publishing workflow”, and “radical innovation” approaches, to “user-centric marketing” and “new business models”, notably in publishing operations specializing in translated fiction.

Each module will introduce a group of around 20 to 25 trainees to market overviews and practical case studies, elements of innovative business practices and hands-on group work. Experienced industry practitioners will act as trainers, together with professional moderators.

Participation in the modules is free but subject to submitting an application with a detailed questionnaire and a motivational letter, available (with more details on the project and the modules) at; the project management board will retain the final decision on applications.

SIDT is a joint initiative of Beletrina Academic Press, Ljubljana, Slovenia, the Federation of European Publishers, Brussels, Belgium, the Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez, Madrid, Spain, Lietuvos Leidėjų Asociacija (Lithuanian Publishers’ Association), Vilnius, Lithuania, and Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting, Vienna, Austria, as a project coordinator.

The project is co-funded under the Creative Europe programme by the European Commission.

Contact and information:
SIDT Books

Diversity Report 2018: Trends in literary translation in Europe. Market developments. Traditional and new publishing models. Funding schemes.

How is the position of translated literary fiction evolving as compared to literature in general? How are diverse linguistic communities finding their respective audiences, especially by comparison to a globalized culture with English as a predominant lingua franca? And how successful are sponsors of various forms of support to translated literature in the aim of sustaining cultural diversity through grants and other ambitious programmes that often use taxpayers’ money? These are the key topics explored in the “Diversity Report” series since 2008.

In 2018, we could focus on three lines of research:

  • Mapping the share and scope of translated fiction in selected countries, to better understand the remarkable differences in the appreciation of readers and publishers for foreign fiction, but also to at least tentatively match translated books with changing consumer demographics;
  • Track which authors are readily translated, and where markets and gatekeepers throughout the cultural landscapes resist;
  • Characterize support models for translated fiction in a handful of countries, by describing policies and compare where and how aims and practices differ.

Key findings

The share of translations as compared to fiction published in the original languages varies significantly between countries. While it is common knowledge that translations into the English language must overcome high barriers, this is not the unique characteristic of ‘big’ languages. Sweden also welcomes a limited number of works in translation in a small market, possibly because many of its most avid readers are used to read in English, too.

Tracking authors in translations stands, as in previous editions, at the core of this report. Together with earlier research, we now have followed over 500 mostly ‘mid-list’ writers of very diverse backgrounds, tonalities and profiles across a dozen European languages, to see what works in translation, and what does not connect.

Based on this field research, we started building a bibliographic database of translated fiction across those 12 countries and languages, aggregating by now close to 2000 bibliographical records, organized in a database.

The new, 2018 edition of the Diversity Report adds two features to the model of research and analysis:

  • What insights can be taken from specifically emphasizing on two smaller countries, Austria and Slovenia, one a small market of 8 million inhabitants neighbouring a much larger Germany that is sharing the same language; the other, Slovenia, with a population of just two million, yet with strong ambitions to find a broad international audience for its literature and culture?
  • How are new models of publishing in the digital age impacting on the old trade of translated literature?

This edition of the Diversity Report, which has been financially supported by public institutions from Austria and Slovenia, is giving special attention to translations of authors from Slovenia and Austria, yet in a wider Europe and global context. As Slovenia will be the guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2022, these findings will hopefully add value for calibrating the strategic compass in that extraordinary event.

Understanding translation markets at a critical moment of transformation

The opportunities and the challenges that we will tackle in the Diversity Report 2018 provide lessons for stakeholders in many different places and positions, across Europe, at a moment in time when anyone in culture and media is facing a deep and simultaneous change in readers’ – and more broadly in consumers’ – preferences and choices that coincide with a profound transformation triggered by digital technologies:

  • Reading and books became immersed in a phenomenal offer of any kind of media and social interaction, obliging each to compete for attention and the time of consumers;
  • Publishers find themselves in complex relations with both old established and newly emerging media operators of various scale;
  • Smaller local actors face both the opportunities of catering their products directly to a dedicated community of followers, as well as the immense challenge of sustaining their visibility in a world where literature of any sorts, from pure entertainment to the greatest refinement, from any background or geography, become accessible somehow, in translations, or in the original, or as a media adaptation of a different format than the book;
  • Public sponsors of translated as well as original literature, and of cultural diversity in general, may want to look at their efforts in the concert of others, who pursue similar endeavours, yet perhaps with different accents and experiences.

The Diversity Report 2018 aims at providing orientation in such a complex environment, by combining solid data research with unambiguous analysis, by offering fresh insights as well as a continuously growing resource of original data which are offered to specialists in the field of translation for further research.

The Diversity Report 2018 was made possible by financial support from the Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery of Austria, the Slovenian Book Agency and the City of Ljubljana through the City Library of Ljubljana and with the help of the Ljubljana UNESCO City of Literature programme.

Written by Rüdiger Wischenbart, Miha Kovać, Yana Genova, Michaela Anna Fleischhacker

Mapping translations of literary fiction across Europe: The Diversity Report 2016 brings data and analysis on how stories travel across borders.


The Diversity Report 2016 discusses

  • By country data on major translation markets;
  • Which authors, publishers and genres shape the business of translation most strongly;
  • The role of public funding

Building on 10 years of research, the Diversity Report 2016 summarizes original insights for publishers, agents, authors, translators, policy makers and educators.

Free download at


A project of Verein für kulturelle Transfers /


How 9/11, the economic crisis of 2008 and the Internet conspired to re-invent the business of books in translation. Part01

A summary of the BookExpo America Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation. Wanderlust for the Written Word. (Disclosure: The event was curated by Rüdiger Wischenbart for BEA)

Everybody agreed that at once, books in translation found a way out of their obscure niche. But the question as to how, and why, was already widely debated.

It was an incremental process, as we became more cosmopolitan, found Grand Dame of US international publishing, Carol Brown Janeway of Knopf Doubleday, quoting on the late pioneer Alfred Knopf who had introduced her to the magic of books in translation.

It was 9/11, argued translator Esther Allen, as Americans had to find out more, and more truthful accounts on that wide world that they could not grasp, or even less understand, anymore. So paradoxically, that traumatic event had led to new openings, as the wonderful WordsWithoutBorders initiative, whose Susan Harris reported the why and how details.


Or was it rather the economic crisis of 2008, asked literary scout Maria Campbell, as people were looking beyond the rim of their plate, for stuff that was – not the least argument – also more affordable than a US star author system that had become more and more unaffordable, in terms of extremely high advances – while a similar international talent.

Also the context is helping, we found out, as authors could socialize internationally, helped by a boom of hugely successful literary festivals in many countries. And even editions of classics became more international, and help their publisher’s bottom line as well, as John Siciliano said, as both Penguin’s editor of Classics, and as the one who had acquired a stunningly bold, and young Swiss writer, Joel Dicker, to introduce him as a new rising star to American readers.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair“ is a wildly successful and acclaimed novel launched in the US only the day previous to that debate at the BEA Global Market Forum: Books in Translation.

Co-published initially by a legendary Swiss small press, L’Age d’Homme, together with a tiny Paris boutique publisher, Bernard de Fallois, is the Wunderkind of the season: A 600+ page thriller and a page turner, backed up by intellectual reflections on the art of writing, and in an about-face, a satire of New York’s machinery of buzz around books, star authors and their vanity.

Joel Dicker, age 28, politely explained at the opening panel of the forum how he crafted this piece, and how important it was to him that this book would be both entertaining and light, and yet stand up to big American contemporary classics such as Philip Roth.

Translations are a growth segment in the publishing business, clearly, which is clearly highlighted by the news of a stunning, yet also somehow logical merger, which was broken at the event by Maria Campbell: Two internationally leading literary agencies join forces, to dwell and develop the resulting opportunities. The Spanish agent Carmen Balcells and London based Andrew Wylie have announced that they are joining forces, creating an international agency, called Balcells & Wylie.

Still, these are yet the conventional elements of how books in translation are currently re-invented. The wide range of innovative initiatives will be documented here shortly in a separate post.

Can we re-frame the debate on translation? Niche, fragmented audiences, global – simply normal!

Talking about translated books was synonymous to complaints – for a long time, and for good reasons. Notably when it is about translations into English.

Only 3% of new titles are translations. Translators are badly paid. Translated works are difficult to sell. Audiences for such works are highly specialized, fragmented, and spread out in a wordlwide geography.

Well, seriously, this is today a normal setting and pre-requisite for publishers for most new books, notably in fiction.

And yet, recently, it has become almost a routine to re-think how authors and readers, for fiction (the full range: from genre fiction to a quick read to high-brow literature) get together.

Plus, translated books, notably novels, have been a big stimulus  throughout the profession of books, internationally. Quoting names like Stieg Larsson or Jo Nesbo is almost an insult here. Next comes Joel Dicker and the „Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair“ (and I am excited to welcoming him tomorrow morning in New York. Here is why:

Bringing good books across linguistic borderlines is currently the goal of many old and new ventures: Both the Big Five global trade publishers as well as scores of start-up companies currently re-invent the rules for translated books in a global reading arena.

These are the topics that we explore and debate tomorrow, Wednesday 28 May, at BookExpo America’s Global Market Forum, in a full day conference which I had the honour to curate  on „Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word„.

I shall report and summarize the event here.

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

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.

„Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word.“ Join us for BookExpo America in New York.

BookExpo America announces speaker list for Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word

The most ambitious and most senior line up of industry voices from the US and the international community that we have ever welcomed to our global event”, says BEA show director Steve Rosato

 Norwalk, CT, April 2, 2014:  The digital revolution and the new global dynamics in the book trade have re-invented and re-invigorated the translation market.   Authors like Scandinavian crime writers Stieg Larsson or Jo Nesbo have become global brands.  Established US publishers, as well as many new companies and ventures, build their profiles and programs around translations, bringing literature from around the world and across many languages to American readers. With the help of digital distribution and Internet based social communities of readers, innovative bridges are being be built, creating a new connected environment.   For example, English and Spanish speaking audiences are sharing books, readers and authors as never before.

In a world summit focused on the professional issues and opportunities related to books in translation, BEA’s Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word will open a one day conference on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, to explore how these new opportunities can be turned into new business for authors, agents, publishers and translators.  In addition, a dedicated Translation Market pavilion and stage on the BEA show floor will be open during the exhibit show days (Thursday, May 29 – Saturday, May 31), offering publishers a new and low priced format for matchmaking and promoting translated books as well as grants and sponsorships for translations.

“This is the most ambitious and most senior line up of industry voices from the US and international community that we have ever welcomed to our global event”, says BEA show director Steve Rosato.  “The fact that so many leaders are contributing their time and talent not only validates our efforts but it underscores how rapidly and significantly the translation business is developing.”

Speakers will include executives from the US Big Five publishers, including Carol Brown Janeway of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; John Siciliano of Penguin; as well as representatives from independent presses, including Michael Reynolds of Europa Editions, and Sal Robinson of Melville House.

Several successfully translated authors will be adding their perspective, including internationally acclaimed bestselling writer Joel Dicker, whose The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair will be released in the US at the time of BEA.  Additionally, Marcos Giralt Torrente, the preeminent Spanish author of many books, most notably The End of Love, will also be participating in this year’s forum.  Mr. Giralt Torrente will have three of his books released in English to the US market from three different publishing ventures within a span of 18 months including books from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, McSweeney’s, and Hispabook.      

New opportunities for translations will be discussed, including ways to reach into the huge Spanish language market; significant new translation grants and awards will also be examined and discussed, such as the Russian initiative ReadRussia and its new “Read Russia English-language Prize”, which will be awarded at the time of BEA in New York.  New publishing ventures which specialize in translation, such as the New Vessel Press, will also be the subjects of analysis and discussion.   

The topics and speakers for the Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word will be further extended and broadened by members of its own advisory board which includes:  Esther Allen, translator and Associate Professor at the Baruch College, City University of New York; Maria Campbell of Maria B. Campbell Associates; Susan Bernofsky of the Columbia University School of the Arts; Susan Harris of Words Without Borders; Susie Nicklin of the British Marsh Agency; and Ricky Stock of the German Book Office in New York.

The GMF Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word program has been curated by Rüdiger Wischenbart, director of foreign affairs for BookExpo America.  BEA’s initiative on behalf of the Translation Market pavilion will be a permanent feature following the Global Market Forum of 2014, where players from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sharjah (UAE), Spain and the US have signed up as exhibitors.

BookExpo America prepares „Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word“ program for 2014

BookExpo America focuses on „Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word“ in 2014, and we are proud to serve as program coordinator for this new edition of the „Global Market Forum“ in New York City.

On May 28, 2014, a series of professional panel debates will explore how translations can take advantage of today’s hugely expanding possibilites of the international book industry, as BEA’s press release has it:

Books throughout history have been the vehicle for ideas and stories that transcend geography and cultures, reaching audiences far beyond a native land or language. Globalization and digitization bring new forces that are re-inventing the book trade and extending the possibilities for translations.

Partners to the BEA Global Market Forum will include the Literary Translation at Columbia Writing Program, PEN World Voices, Open Letter Press at the University of Rochester, the Association of Author Representatives (AAR), American Literary Translators Association, Art of Translation in San Francisco as well as representatives of international markets promoting their countries’ literature in the US.

Find the press release here.

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