Friday, 13 August 2010

Thinking Outside the Translation Box

For a while now, Chad Post of Open Letter Books/Three Percent has been saying something I've been thinking. One of the reasons publishers tend to cite for not publishing many translations is the cost of translation. Only the thing is, it's not hugely difficult to get grants to cover that. It's no secret that all sorts of European cultural organisations will actually pay British and American publishers to translate books from their countries - from the Goethe Institut to the Icelandic Literature Fund. Which kind of cancels out that whole "too expensive" argument to some extent. But I don't like to be the person to say that, because what do I know about publishing?

Anyway, now Chad - who does know about publishing translations, because that's what he does - has put down his thoughts on the matter for the trade newsletter Publishing Perspectives. In a two-part feature, no less. You can read part one here and part two here. In essence, he says the focus should be less on the cost factor than on building an audience for translations and international fiction. In two ways: what he calls the "beach read" – heck, why not just go ahead and publish entertaining page-turners in translation, which might well encourage people to read more international fiction – and by cultivating the "non-beach reading audience" – those readers who are into more challenging stuff and love a bit of foreign writing every now and then.

I don't have much to add, to be honest. Except OMG, just read it right now and do exactly what he says, people! I am available for translations from the German, beach read or non-beach read.

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