In 2015 there was a much needed push for works in translation. In October Amazon announced it was making a $10m (£6.5m) investment in AmazonCrossing as a “commitment over the next five years to increase the number and diversity of its books in translation”.
According to an article in the Guardian late last year, ‘How Amazon came to dominate fiction in translation’, 2016 will see AmazonCrossing publishing Pierced by the Sun, the new novel from the Mexican author of Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel, as well as Jesper Bugge Kold’s Danish Book Forum Debut prize–nominated Winter Men. Plus the award-winning Polish crime writer Zygmunt Miloszewski’s Rage, the 2014 winner of the Glass Key for Scandinavian crime fiction Gard Sveen’s The Last Pilgrim, and a number of Indonesian writers, including Abidah El Khalieqy, Nukila Amal and Laksmi Pamuntjak. It has also translated fiction into German for the last three years, started translating fiction into French earlier this year, and has recently announced its first translations into Italian.
This reflects some positive strides within the translations market and, from our experience here at IPR License, we are seeing more and more international publishers both eager to sell their existing works for translation and secure the rights to relevant titles.
A question we are often asked by smaller publishing houses, enticed by the idea of this particular market, is where and how do other publishers discover such works.
Well, this can happen in a variety of ways.
It could be by word of mouth, a conversation or observation at a book fair, a tip off from a translator, a glance across an international bookshelf or from an online platform showcasing works from around the world.
Finding an interesting title is only the beginning. There are then a number of relevant conversations at be had and questions to be asked, such as:
- Is the title available in my language/market of choice?
- Has it already been translated into any other languages and was it successful?
- Could I source a suitable translator?
- Where can I secure the rights?
- Can we sell it?
These questions illustrate that acquiring works for translation isn’t always straightforward, and that’s even before the sales process. However, thanks to technological advances it has got easier. Challenges do remain but there is growing evidence that 2016 will be a year in which more works in translation will come to fore.
Once again the practice of faking bad reviews has made the headlines, but this time Amazon is the good guy. The online book retailer has announced that it will sue 1,114 ‘fake reviewers’ in a lawsuit filed in Seattle, Washington. The reviewers, dubbed “John Does” as Amazon does not yet know their real names, have been selling their services on the internet out-sourcing site fivrr.com, promising five-star reviews for as little as $5 (about £3.24).
In the run up to Publishing: the next 5 years, BookMachine will be featuring a number of opinions about what might be next for the industry. This is a guest blog from Christopher Norris. Chris is editor and development executive for the Insight Film Festival. He also freelances as CopyGhosting Editorial Services. You can follow Chris on Twitter (@InsightFF and @chris24n) and keep up to date with the Insight Film Festival via the website’s news and blog items that he writes, edits and/or curates.
As BookMachine celebrates 5 years of gazing into the book trade crystal ball, here is a personal collection of suggestions to generate debate that may happen if publishing ‘turkeys’ react positively to media trends and finally ‘vote for Christmas’:
This is a guest post from Alison Jones. Alison is a business and executive coach, content consultant and publisher. After a 23-year career in trade and scholarly publishing working with major publishers such as Oxford University Press and Macmillan, during which she pioneered digital publishing, she set up Alison Jones Business Services and the Practical Inspiration Publishing imprint in 2014.
Last night I got chatting to a man at a bar (stay with me). I had half an hour to kill before the London Book Fair summer bash, and he invited me to join him and his colleague since they were in a similar situation. They asked me what I did, I told them I was a publisher, they fell off their chairs. They’d just been planning a presentation to a publishing company for their personalization platform.
As part of its continuing efforts to sign up shoppers to its premium Prime subscription service, Amazon has announced Prime Day, a ‘one day shopping event’ that promises ‘more deals than Black Friday’. Happening across Amazon stores globally on Wednesday 15 July, the event allows new and existing members of Amazon Prime to shop for ‘thousands’ of lightning deals throughout the day, starting on Amazon.co.uk at midnight BST.
Jeremy Trevathan, Publisher, is responsible for the shape, direction and profitability of the adult publishing lists at Pan Macmillan in the UK. This includes Macmillan, Pan, Picador, Mantle, Sidgwick & Jackson, Boxtree, Bello and the recently launched Bluebird. His authors have included bestsellers including Ken Follett, Jeffrey Archer, Max Hastings, James Herbert, Wilbur Smith, Peter Hamilton, China Mieville and Roy Jenkins to name a few. He began his career working in the Production Departments of Oxford Univeristy Press and Penguin Books, before transferring to the Subsidiary Rights Department at Penguin. Stints at Time-Life Books and Reader’s Digest Books in editorial roles preceded his arrival at Pan Macmillan in the mid-1990s as Subsidiary Rights Director. In 2000 he became Publisher of Macmillan.
1. Since starting at Pan Macmillan in 2000, what market change would you say has had the biggest influence on publishing plans?
The biggest change in the market since I became a publisher at Pan Macmillan has been the ebook. Amazon’s emergence in the late 1990s led to the growth of this format in publishing in the UK. During the 1990s Amazon quickly made all physical books available to all readers, which was pretty transformational in itself. There was no more need to wait 2 weeks for the arrival of a backlist title from a retailer.
This is a guest interview with Deborah Emin. Deborah began Sullivan Street Press as a way to change the publishing paradigm. An advocate also for how we relate to this planet, the press publishes titles on veganism, animal rights as well as on the occupy movement. Follow @SullivanStPress.
1. If we could turn back time, how could the Amazon/publishing relationship have been established differently?
If you’ve been on Twitter at any point since the weekend, chances are that you’ve come across the YouGov profiler, a jolly little plaything/terrifying cross-section of all the privacies we wilfully surrender that allows users to input the name of ‘any brand, person or thing’ then presents them with a picture of a typical fan of said brand, person or thing courtesy of the titular market research firm. It’s by no means exhaustive (apparently there weren’t enough fans of Yo La Tengo to constitute an appropriate sample size, which is of course just how Yo La Tengo fans like it) but it’s certainly an enjoyable way to pass a few minutes
confirming your existing prejudices engaging in some low-level market research. With the profiler’s help, then, BookMachine proudly (?) presents a guide to the demographics you need to pitch to if you want to make it big in publishing [puts feet up on desk, taps out cigar ash].
Amazon has launched what it describes as ‘reader powered publishing’ in the form of Kindle Scout, a crowdsourcing initiative to find unpublished authors and, uh, publish them. The hypermegaomnicompany outlines the venture as ‘a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing. ‘
In what’s turning out to be quite the week for internet-based publishing innovations, Amazon has brought its Kindle Unlimited service to British shores. The subscription service, billed as a literary equivalent to Netflix and Spotify, allows users unlimited access (as the name implies) to over 650,000 Kindle books and an extensive library of Audible audiobooks for £7.99 a month (at current exchange rates nearly £2 more, incidentally, than the $9.99 a month charged by the American service, which launched earlier this summer). Amazon is offering a free 30 day trial of the service to all those who sign up.