Is the Lack of Interest in Translations a Global Problem?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

In today’s editorial Chad Post makes a compelling argument for the utility of publishing both translations with the potential to be blockbuster bestsellers and those that cater to a more niche audience.

Post is writing primarily with American readers in mind, with the understanding being that US publishers are largely reticent to publish translated works due to a lack of a mass market readership.

The presumption is always that readers in Europe and elsewhere are more exposed to authors from neighboring countries and cultures. Having read Culture Report Europe: Europe Reads — Literature in Europe, a recent book published by ifa and the Robert Bosch Foundation, I’ve come to believe that disinterest in translations may be even more widespread than previously thought and is not solely limited to the US.

Several essayists representing a cross-section of European countries allude to the fact that the citizens of their own countries don’t read that much translated literature either. “We read books first and foremost from the United States and only afterward from other European nations,” writes the Polish journalist Adam Krzerninski. “Why do Britons read so little of other European authors?” asks Emma House of the British Publishers Association.

Tell us what you think? Is the problem of disinterest in translated literature only an an American problem? Or is it one shared equally by the rest of the world?

You may download Culture Report Europe: Europe Reads — Literature in Europe free of charge here.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.