Friday, November 16, 2007

It's all here and it's all peanut butter

English rules the world and it appears the publishers as well.

"It's not just a question of column inches. In any library or bookshop, the vast majority of books on the shelves are by authors writing in English. In stark contrast to publishing throughout the rest of the globe, translated fiction accounts for only a tiny fraction of the books published in the English-speaking world. In Germany 13% of books are translations. In France it's 27%, in Spain 28%, in Turkey 40% and in Slovenia 70%, but in Britain and America the best estimates suggest that the fraction of books on the shelves which started off in another language is somewhere around two per cent. One measure of the lack of interest in translated literature from both government and the industry is that Britain is the only country in Europe that doesn't produce any statistics on translation."

This is the marketplace giving the people what they want more than much else, I think.
Any good bookseller will at least know the terrain, but translated books are a hard sell, unless a specific author breaks out somehow. I realize it's not fair, but at some point you've gotta dance with what brung you.
Lots of English titles die fast and quiet as well. Translated titles are never going to be particularly sexy, although Europa Editions covers some European stuff and there seems to be a fair amount of Japanese work in translation through Vertical.
Somehow they manage to stay alive, but Dalkey Archive has made great looking translated books for years; and done it cheaply, too.

Consequently, I'm going to start this later today.

Posted by Dave

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