3 July 2009

Translation and fantasies of global domination


When a book comes out in English, it immediately becomes accessible to 480 million native speakers, which sounds very promising - until you realise that this is only about 7% of the world's population.

So whenever news of a translation deal comes through, it's difficult to keep fantasies about growing global domination and a tidal wave of royalties at bay.

The Spanish edition of Lend Me Your Ears added another 332 million and the Russian version that's now being translated will increase the potential market by another 180 million.

All very promising except that, taken together, these only mean an increase in accessibility of 5% (Spanish) and 3% (Russian) of the world's population, bringing the total up to 15% - a percentage that would be more than doubled if only someone would translate it into Mandarin.

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