05 July 2008

Book translations are disappearing on the open market

“The success of a few internationally acclaimed titles, however, masks the wider paradox of how free interchange between markets, cultures and languages is drying up. With the decline of translations of books, a centrepiece of book culture, namely their universality and diversity, is at risk. A turf war between publishers and translators can’t resolve the fundamental riddle of the current implosion of the translation market. We probably need to acknowledge that for a growing number of books, we may have a potentially interested reading audience, but no viable business model in a purely market-driven book economy. Thus, the traditional rights markets alone are not enough to organize a universal network of books and ideas through translation. And the public funding offered by many countries for translations is not enough either to bridge the widening gap between cultural expectations and the economic obstacles.”

[Quoted from an article, titled Cultural diversity? A pipe dream, by Rüdiger Wischenbart, in www.sightandsound.com, 22 March 2007.]

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