Anecdotal evidence and internal discussions continue to suggest that increasing numbers of international publishers are eager to put out works in translation that cross many cultural boundaries. But it’s also evident from the number of actual translations which have sold well that this isn’t always easy.
The topic of how to get more foreign language works translated and published into English was cited as being the "holy grail" for international publishers at IPR's Global Licensing: The Bigger Picture conference late last year. This illustrates the scale of the task facing many territories without English as their first language.
On the other side of the coin, the sales of translation rights for English language books remain a prominent source of revenue for many publishing houses. And in the midst of producing a White Paper around this aforementioned event I thought I’d offer a few sneak extracts from it, referring specifically to translation rights and emerging new markets.
Western Europe was cited as being a key market for the majority of U.K. publishers. Latin America, as a region, was viewed as experiencing the largest increase in the sales of translation rights in recent times, with Brazil being the major player. As the most vibrant market for translation rights outside of Europe, advances were reported to be reaching six figures for the right books.
Nigeria was also highlighted as a market to watch, even though the level of advances paid continued to be relatively modest. In addition the Arab world was said to be growing in prominence with many new initiatives and trade events helping to facilitate rights sales. In Asia – Indonesia and China were referred to as territories generating increased interest. And when considering China, although there were obvious restrictions and censorship to take into account, business, history and self-help books, as well as some romance titles, continued to sell well.
The consensus was that the strongest market for translation rights continued to be Germany. Mainly due to strong long-term readership levels, good infrastructure and the fact that it had remained a buying market even throughout the economic crisis of recent years. In stark contrast to other European countries, in particular Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece. Staying in Europe, although sales were said to have picked up in Italy in 2014, Holland was cited as still being ‘a difficult market’ and Poland ‘not as strong as it used to be’. However, the current Turkish translations market was described as ‘phenomenal’ and ‘one to watch’.
It’s clear that works in translation are still big business and knowing how and where to market translation rights, or knowing someone that does, is the key to unlocking this potentially lucrative sector. And here at IPR License, we have a fantastic selection of foreign language titles with rights available for translation now.
Tom Chalmers is the managing director of IPR License.