08 July 2008

The translator’s dilemma

Translators aren’t rewarded as well as they ought to be. Apparently, the economics of translated titles is not promising. The logic is something like this:

A higher fee for translation increases the cost of production and, in turn, the price at which the title is sold at the bookstore. A high price deters readers from buying the title and reduces its demand, adversely affecting its sale. With low sales, publishers can’t recover their investment and lose interest in publishing translated titles.

Moreover, in India, with her 20-odd regional languages, the universe of readers for translated titles is fragmented. Publishers can’t take the risk of printing a large number of copies for a single title. A small print run, once again, increases the unit cost of the title and its price, deterring readers from buying the book.

With fewer readers buying translated titles, fewer translated titles are published… further reducing the translator’s opportunities.

No comments: