Adam Ash

Your daily entertainment scout. Whatever is happening out there, you'll find the best writing about it in here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Bookplanet: Reading the world

"Jolly Englishman I am not, but I have also confessed to being partial to the English translation of Don Quixote over the barbaric original." -- Jorge Luis Borges
'April will be dominated by Poetry Month, so I'd like to give you a heads-up on a new and extremely exciting promotional effort that will be coming in May. Called Reading the World, the project will focus upon increasing public awareness of the pleasures and possibilities inherent in reading literature in translation. While Reading the World will initially focus upon five publishers (Archipelago Books, Dalkey Archive Press, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux; Knopf, and New Directions) of varying size, but all with established commitments to the art of translation, there really is no limit to the ways in which the industry at all levels (booksellers, publishers, media) might contribute to the expansion of this project so that it truly encompasses the world of literature. It was Chad Post of Dalkey Archive Press who ultimately accepted a leadership role for the project during the past year. As Post recalls it: "Last year at BEA, I produced a small booklet listing all of our upcoming translations, from Dutch, from Estonian, from Bulgarian, etc. Paul Yamazaki [City Lights bookstore] picked this up at our stand and said that it was the "most beautiful thing" he had found at BEA. So in talking with him, I mentioned that it would be great if we could figure out a way for publishers and booksellers who love these type of books to work together to help raise the awareness of the translations being published. Then, he had his discussion with you and Karl and Jeff at the FSG party, and by the time BEA was over, the seeds for Reading the World had been planted. That "discussion" occurred at a Farrar, Straus, & Giroux BookExpo dinner, where a casual conversation developed among Paul Yamazaki, Karl Pohrt (owner of Shaman Drum Bookshop in Ann Arbor, MI), Jeff Seroy (FSG's Marketing & Publicity Director), and me. We tossed around many ideas about finding ways to convince our readers, our customers, to try more novels in translation, but the one aspect of the conversation that I recall most vividly was the concept of promoting the reading of translated works as a pleasure and not just a duty. How could we make translated work more tempting to our readers? How could we make them want to read this stuff? The answer, of course, is that we could use the same techniques, combined with a creative marketing plan, that we employ to make any book a "must-read." We could make translated works irresistible through passionate handselling and imaginative promotion. We hit upon FSG, Knopf, Archipelago, and New Directions because we felt the five presses taken together represented a nice mix of aesthetics and size (from a large commercial houses to a newly formed nonprofit). My primary role in the project has been to help organize and keep everything moving on the publisher side of things, and I have to say that working with Jeff Seroy from FSG, Paul Kozlowski from Knopf, Declan Spring from New Directions, and Jill Schoolman from Archipelago has been great.' Click for full post here.


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