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.

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