Readers Rack Up Pages Read in Free Translations from AmazonCrossing for World Book Day

In News by Porter Anderson

A fast-updating ticker from Amazon Charts is displaying how many pages have been read in nine AmazonCrossing translations that can be downloaded free through April 24 in recognition of World Book Day.

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Amazon Charts Is Counting Pages Read
In support of translated fiction, AmazonCrossing—the translation imprint of Amazon Publishing—is giving readers a chance to read nine of its most prominent and successful translated titles free of charge for a limited time.

On the imprint’s World Book Day “Read the World” page, you’ll see just how eager an uptake the offer is getting. The Amazon Charts system, updating every few seconds, is displaying how many pages of these nine books have been read in their Kindle editions during the period of the free downloads.

At this writing early in the offer, readers had already logged a staggering 1,011,825 pages. By the time you hit the page, the number will have jumped substantially.

Image: Amazon Read the World page

The occasion is the approach of World Book Day on Monday (April 23), when UNESCO will also name Athens the World Book Capital for the year in a handoff from Conakry, Guinea, and with the royal family of the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah present to represent the emirate’s preparations to accept the designation in 2019.

“We’re making an investment in books in translation and giving readers access to stories from diverse cultural perspectives with an aim to reach one million readers in honor of World Book Day.”Mikyla Bruder

As regular readers of Publishing Perspectives know, AmazonCrossing has become a leader in translation output under the guidance of its editorial director, Gabriella Page-Fort. While Amazon Publishing and its translation imprint are trade publishing operations—and not part of the self-publishing platform—the rapid, expansive success of the translation effort, in particular, is in no small part boosted by Amazon’s sales power.

In a prepared statement about the limited-time introduction of these books to readers,Amazon Publishing chief Mikyla Bruder is quoted, saying, “We believe books have the power to connect us across language, country, and culture.

“Today we are making an investment in books in translation and giving readers access to stories from diverse cultural perspectives with an aim to reach one million readers in honor of World Book Day.”

The list of nine key titles you can obtain now through April 24 in their digital editions demonstrate the bracing sweep of what Crossing’s effort is revealing: when top-quality translation is applied to books beyond literary fiction, many of the world’s most avid book consumers are ready to read. Many of Crossing’s titles are literary. But you’ll find, even in this nine-book collection, that there’s also family saga, memoir, murder mystery, heroic romance, inspirational fiction, and politically powered drama.

Nine Translations in Play

Here are the nine books you now can download from AmazonCrossing without charge until 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday (April 24), or 6:59 a.m. GMT (April 25). The descriptive information is from Amazon Publishing.

  • A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa, translated from Japanese by Risa Kobayashi and Martin Brown: An Amazon Charts best-selling memoir about one man’s harrowing escape from the oppression of North Korea.
  • The House by the River by Lena Manta, translated from Greek by Gail Holst-WarhaftAn epic saga of love, adventure and family from Greece’s reigning #1 best-selling author.
  • Still Waters by Viveca Sten, translated from Swedish by Marlaine Delargy: The first book in the nearly 4 million-copy best-selling Swedish Sandhamn Murders series.
  • The Great Passage by Shion Miura, translated from Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter: This award-winning novel, adapted into a major motion picture, about the making of a Japanese dictionary is a reminder that a life dedicated to passion is a life well lived.
  • Last Train to Istanbul by Ayşe Kulin, translated from Turkish by John W. BakerA sweeping story of love, adventure and compassion, about a young Turkish couple traversing Nazi-occupied Europe to gain their freedom, from one of Turkey’s most beloved authors.
  • The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan, translated from Russian by Yuri MachkasovAn astounding and award-winning tale of a mesmerizing space where disabilities symbolize strengths.
  • The Question of Red by Laksmi Pamuntjak, translated from Indonesian by Laksmi PamuntjakA saga of love, revolution and resilience and one woman’s courage to forge her own path, from an award-winning Indonesian novelist.
  • The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen, translated from Spanish by Simon Bruni: A haunting page-turner about a boy who lives underground and discovers that light exists in even the darkest of places.
  • Ten Women by Marcela Serrano, translated from Spanish by Beth Fowler: A group of women with divergent life stories bond over triumphs and heartaches in this beautiful tale about universal connections from an award-winning Chilean author.

Those familiar with Crossing’s work will recognize not only key authors here but also some of the most gifted translators working with the house.

Simon Bruni, for example, based in the UK, is a prolific translator, a three-time John Dryden award winner, and a key member of the British translation community. His other titles include Desert Flowers by Paul Pen (2017 AmazonCrossing) and The Color of Evil by Armando Rodera (2014, Thomas & Mercer).

So colloquial and comfortable is Gail Holst-Warhaft’s translation of Lena Manta’s The House by the River that many are hoping she’s tapped to translate Manta’s new The Golden Letter, which Metamorfossi’s Psichogios Publications recently has sold to Crossing (a deal we expect to list in our upcoming Rights Roundup on Tuesday).

John W. Baker’s translation of Ayşe Kulin Last Train to Istanbul has been a standout seller both in the States and in the UK. And Beth Fowler works in Glasgow and is an Inverness native, whose specialization in Spanish won her the (Penguin Random House) Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize in 2010. She’s also the translator of Argentinian writer Iosi Havillo’s 2011 Open Door.

Publishing Perspectives will have more on translation next week from the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair—which is presenting 25 new translations from English, French, and German in the Kalima Translation Project—and from Berlin’s Publishers’ Forum as well as Athens’ World Book Capital events.

And with offices in Seattle, New York, Grand Haven, Luxembourg, London, Munich, Milan, Madrid, and Paris, Amazon Publishing and its AmazonCrossing translation imprint are becoming one of the most internationally recognizable brands, both in the industry and on social media. The hashtag #readtheworld is connecting translation readers with each other during the Crossing free-books offer.

As a reminder, Amazon Publishing is the house that recently added its 15th imprint in association with filmmaker Jill Soloway. The diversity-driven imprint Topple Books is a collaboration between Amazon Publishing, Amazon Studios, and Soloway’s Topple Productions.

More from Publishing Perspectives on translation is here. More on AmazonCrossing is here and more on Amazon Publishing is here. And more about UNESCO’s World Book Capital is here and on World Book Day is here.

Don’t miss our Publishing Perspectives Spring Magazine, which is focused on inclusivity and diversity. It’s ready here for your download as a PDF, and was available in print at London Book Fair.

In it, we’ve asked publishing people how we can make our industry and the books we publish reflect increasingly diverse populations in many countries. And we’ve asked them to articulate why this is important to publishers, readers, and society at large.

And Publishing Perspectives is hiring: see information about our search for a marketing and business development manager here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.