Found in translation
I’ve never read Jules Verne, Miguel de Cervantes, or Karel Čapek.
Oh, I’ve read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Don Quixote, and War with the Newts, of course.
I just haven’t read them in their original languages (French, Spanish, and Czech).
Even though our adult kid is a linguist, I’m simply not fluent enough (if at all). I can blunder through an article in Spanish, and I did three years of Russian in high school. On the latter, I wanted to be able to read some research being done in the then Soviet Union…but I didn’t really become conversational.
I did learn all of Mangani, the language the “apes” speak in the Tarzan books, but that’s not the same thing. ;)
So many of the classics so many of us have read are translations!
I’ll admit, I don’t generally pay much attention to who the translator is of a book. I probably should pay more attention to that. Translated books often seem…stilted to me. I think they tend to use the “correct” language in English, when the author is being slangy in their own.
I knew someone who was a translator. Out of curiosity, this person put “hit the road” (an American English idiom meaning to get on your way) into an online translator (this was more than a decade ago) and had it translate it to French…and then translated it back from French to English using the same software.
The result was “pummel the avenue”. :)
I just tried the same experiment with Google translate…and the retranslation was rendered properly as “hit the road”.
Amazon’s traditional publishing wing has had an imprint devoted to translating works into English for some time:
It has been very successful for them…one of their biggest successes has been
and its sequels.
The first book, nearly five years on, is still in the #250 paid bestsellers in the USA Kindle store.
There are 809 books published by AmazonCrossing in the USA Kindle store:
Generally, they seem to be well-reviewed (there are exceptions), and there are some with thousands of reviews.
I just recently read one I got as one of the
Prime members can generally get one a month (sometimes it’s two) for free to own.
The one I read was
I would say the translation was pretty good…I wasn’t thrilled with the book itself, although there were some interesting elements.
Clearly, Amazon also thinks AmazonCrossing is working.
They sent me this
announcing a fresh $10 million investment “… over the next five years to increase the number and diversity of its books in translation”.
Interestingly, they now have a website where authors/publishers can submit books for the program. You can do that here:
They are looking for books in these categories:
- Historical Fiction
- Literary Fiction
- Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense
- Science Fiction
- Women’s Fiction
- Young Adult Fiction
Looks to me like they have around fifty languages from which they will translate (if the book is selected).
Amazon has been a leader on globalizing its e-book devices (they dominated the NOOK on that). They have also been an important way for authors/publishers to reach readers, both as a platform (Kindle Direct Publishing) and as a traditional publisher.
This combines those two strengths.
Amazon could certainly publishes books in the original languages…and in several other languages eventually.
They don’t list the terms on the submission site: that may be negotiated on an individual basis.
I think this is important.
It’s a great goodwill thing for Amazon’s relationships with other countries…even if books aren’t a huge part of their revenue stream.
What do you think? Do you like reading translated books? Do you seek out individual translators? Do you know someone who has had a book published and translated? If so, what was their experience like? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.