Shelf Awareness for Friday, June 6, 2014


HarperCollins: Celebrating 200 Years of Great Books

HarperCollins: 200th Anniversary Celebration - Explore Iconic Books from HarperCollins History

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Books That Drive Kids Crazy! - Did You Take the B from My _ook? and This is a Ball by Beck Stanton

Chicken House: The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: New York City

Timber Press: The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired the Little House Books by Marta McDowell

News

General Retail Sales in May: Weather, Promotions 'Boost Traffic'

Retail sales "continued to improve in May as warmer weather and a surge of promotions helped to boost traffic," the Wall Street Journal reported. For the month, sales at stores open at least a year increased 4.6%  at the eight retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters, compared with projections of 3.6% growth and a 5% jump last year.

"There was a lot of pent-up demand from the bad weather but the consumer was still only shopping and buying when the promotions were aggressive," said David Bassuk of AlixPartners. "It's a tougher environment to get the consumer to shop, so the main driver of getting customers to do so is to create a deal or an incentive. Pricing in June will be a huge factor in who wins and loses in the month."


Yen Press: Brave by Svetlana Chmakova


Powell's Happily Scrambled to Handle Colbert Bump

Stephen Colbert's recommendation Wednesday night that Colbert Report viewers order copies of a forthcoming debut novel through a link to Powell's Books' website was "cooked up" by Colbert and his publisher, Hachette, and Powell's, Portland, Ore., didn't know about it until earlier that day, according to the Oregonian.

"I don't think historically we've ever had one single moment in time when this many people have arrived at the site to shop," Powell's marketing director Kim Sutton told the paper.

To prepare for a flood of orders for California by Edan Lepucki, which Little, Brown is publishing July 8, Powell's "had its IT staff on hand to deal with the spike in traffic, which briefly brought the site to a grind." Since shipping can't take place for a month, "We have a little time to prepare," Sutton said. "It'll be a big day."

Sutton noted that the "Colbert bump" has affected more than just the one book, saying, "We're fortunate to be benefiting from additional shopping that's happening on the site in addition to the charge to go and purchase California."

As of this morning, the bestseller list at Powell's included California at #1; Hachette author J.K. Rowling's The Silkworm at #2; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, who appeared with Colbert Wednesday and recommended California, at #3; and Colbert's works I Am a Pole (And So Can You) and America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't at #7 and #9.

Already Salon has called Colbert "the next Oprah."


Binc Foundation: Campaign to Sustain - Ann Patchett Autographed Book


Hachette Lays Off 3% of U.S. Staff

In a move Hachette said wasn't "directly" related to its dispute with Amazon over Amazon's demands for better terms, the publisher has laid off nearly 30 people, close to 3% of its U.S. workforce, "blaming a soft market for book sales," the Wall Street Journal reported.

In a statement, Hachette said it needed "to make some difficult changes" in a cost-cutting effort "that will improve our company's resilience to a changing marketplace."


Grand Central Publishing: The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen by Hendrik Groen, translated by Hester Velmans


Indies Show Solidarity with Hachette, Open Dialogue with Customers

"Especially in the past few years, we've made a conscious effort to not define ourselves in relation to Amazon," said Robert Sindelar, managing partner of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and Ravenna, Wash. Customers, he continued, are wary of being lectured to, and Sindelar did not want to seem beleaguered or embittered. "We feel we're unique and awesome in ways that have nothing to do with Amazon."

However, the ongoing dispute between Amazon.com and Hachette Book Group has given Sindelar--and other indie booksellers across the country--an opportunity to raise awareness and open dialogue with customers in more productive ways.

Third Place Books' Hachette display table.

"We thought a lot about what we can do to bring a little awareness to consumers without preaching," Sindelar added. To that end, Third Place Books has put up a prominent display of Hachette titles and included copies of a New York Times article about the dispute, and is offering 20% off on pre-orders of J.K. Rowling's next Robert Galbraith book, The Silkworm. What's more, anyone in the greater Seattle area who pre-orders The Silkworm will have it hand-delivered by a Third Place Books staff member on June 19. "Most consumers would be pre-ordering the book on Amazon, and that's impossible to do right now."

Third Place Books has never offered deliveries before, but Sindelar is confident that he and his staff members can handle it for one day. "We'll take it to offices, homes, anywhere," said Sindelar. "We're asking people, if they don't mind, to tell us where they'll be that day, so we can hand it over in person. And there will some freebies, maybe some ARCs or some book swag, to deliver as thank yous. We're really trying to make it a fun event."

(On Wednesday, Rowling tweeted: "I LOVE Third Place Books and so does my good friend Robert Galbraith.")

Hachette display at McLean & Eakin Booksellers.

Jessilynn Norcross, co-owner of McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Mich., has been pleasantly surprised by the number of customers who both are aware of the ongoing dispute and are eager to talk about it. On Wednesday morning, Norcross recounted, some 60 customers, all in store because of various book clubs, had a long conversation with Matt Norcross, the store's other co-owner, about the dispute and were glad to get the scoop.

"We're in such an insular business as booksellers," Norcross said. "We know what's going on, but it's hard to communicate that in a friendly way. We don't want to alienate anyone, but we still want to educate our customers a bit."

Before putting up any sort of display or broaching the subject with customers directly, Norcross made sure her staff knew what was going on. Then, they put together a prominent display table of Hachette titles, with printed-out copies of an Atlantic Monthly article about the dispute; lists of upcoming Hachette titles available for pre-order; and a lighthearted Star Wars motif that equates Jeff Bezos with the Emperor and Amazon with the Dark Side and implores customers to "join the Indie Revolution."

"It's been a great conversation starter," said Norcross. She plans to dedicate a Monday e-mail to customers about the subject, and reported that the dedicated display has definitely helped boost sales of Hachette titles. It was hard to tell, she continued, if any new customers have come in simply to get Hachette titles otherwise unavailable from Amazon, but "we do have some Silkworm pre-orders, so that might be a bit of an indicator."

Wall display at The King's English.

Anne Holman, co-owner of the King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, hasn't heard much from her customers about the dispute between Amazon and Hachette. Her store has, however, put up displays of Hachette titles, as well as signs around the store saying, "We happily sell Hachette Book Group titles." Like Norcross and Sindelar, and many other indie booksellers, Holman is very conscious of the risk of appearing bitter when talking to customers about Amazon.

"It's a complicated conversation," she said. "It's much more than a simple 'Don't buy Amazon, they're mean.' People want to save money and they want things quickly. But it's also about more than just prices and more than just books."

The job of indie booksellers during the dispute, Holman suggested, is to keep the momentum going and to keep talking about the services that indies can provide, including but not limited to books.

"We're fully supportive of Hachette, and we are going to do everything we can to advertise their books as long as they are in this dispute," Holman said. She, too, has seen a noticeable uptick in interest in The Silkworm. "We always [advertise Hachette books] and we would anyway. But we're going to make it more noticeable and more vocal."

In his store's June e-newsletter, Chris Morrow, co-owner of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., discussed the dispute. He wrote: "The juxtaposition of the [James] Patterson grants and the Hachette-Amazon fight highlights the importance and benefits to communities across the country of bookstores, and, more broadly, locally owned independent stores.... We, as a society, are involved in a broad sociological experiment--do we understand and appreciate the dynamics that produce thriving communities (with buying local as a main tenant) or do we abandon social capital in favor of hyper-efficiency and scale?"

Northshire Bookstore has also put up a Hachette display and posters throughout the store. Morrow reports that his sales of Hachette titles were up over 7% for the month of May. Despite the attention that the mainstream media has given the stand-off, Morrow was unsure if the average book buyer is aware of the discussion. But, he said, "It is certainly contributing to the narrative of Amazon as a big corporate bully. It adds credence to the buy local message."

At Parnassus Books, a window display makes use of the ABA's promo materials.

At Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., booksellers have seen an uptick in sales of some of J.D. Salinger's books in the past couple of weeks, and Malcolm Gladwell has made it to the store bestseller list twice, a few weeks ago for The Outliers and again this week for David and Goliath. The store has mentioned the dispute in its newsletters and has shared related articles and columns on its social media pages. Soon, they're putting up a display with Hachette titles at the front of the store.

"We haven't necessarily had customers ask for specific titles or authors as a result of the dispute," said Rachel Betz Cass, the store's head buyer, in an e-mail, "but from the conversations we have had, it seems like people who may not have had an opinion before are now less likely to see Amazon as a harmless part of the ecosystem."

On May 29, Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine, the owners of Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., posted a column on their website called "Shop Hachette with Us," and a Hachette display table was also set up in store. According to Graham, the display has helped sell more Hachette titles and has helped start conversations about Amazon between customers and P&P staff members.

"I can also report," Graham wrote in an e-mail, "that at least several customers have visited the store in the past week telling our staff that they had been accustomed to buying books on Amazon but, after reading about the dispute with Hachette, decided to shop with us." --Alex Mutter


City Monsters Search-And-Find Books from Chouette Editions


Nook Media, Samsung Team Up for Co-Branded Tablets

Barnes & Noble subsidiary Nook Media and Samsung Electronics America are partnering to develop co-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook tablets that will combine Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 hardware with customized Nook software. The companies anticipate an early August U.S. debut for the 7-inch version. The tablets will be prominently displayed along with Nook e-readers at B&N bookstores and online. The chain bookseller will continue to offer its Nook GlowLight device as well.
 
B&N CEO Michael Huseby said partnering with Samsung "brings our customers great new products and evidences our commitment to our Nook customers and growing our digital content business." The partnership will allow B&N to reduce its exposure to "the substantial cost structure and other financial commitments that accompany ownership of the hardware production aspects of the Nook tablet business," B&N noted.


Harper Lee's Museum Lawsuit Is Off Again

Author Harper Lee's on-again, off-again lawsuit against the Monroe County Heritage Museum for exploiting her trademark and personality rights is apparently off again. Lee reportedly accepted a settlement in February, requested a reinstatement last month, and yesterday U.S. District Judge William H. Steele of Mobile "dismissed the case in a one-sentence order after lawyers for both Lee and the Monroe County Heritage Museum filed a joint motion seeking to end the suit," the Associated Press reported.


Obituary Note: Mary Soames

Mary Soames, the last surviving child of Winston Churchill who "lived a storybook life and chronicled it in her own well-received books," died May 31, the New York Times reported. She was 91. British Prime Minister David Cameron called her "an eyewitness to some of the most important moments in our recent history."


Notes

Image of the Day: Dork Diaries, a Family Affair

The Dork Diaries series has become a family affair, with author-artist and series creator Rachel Renée Russell (l.) having brought into the series the talents of her daughters, writers/artists Erin (center) and Nikki Russell. The seventh in the Dork Diaries series, Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star (S&S), went on sale Tuesday, with a two-million-copy printing. Their first stop on Tuesday was Prairie Elementary School in Naperville, Ill., with Anderson's Bookshop handling the sales. After stops in Missouri and Minnesota, their final stop will be next Tuesday, June 10, at Greenfield Public Library in Greenfield, Wisc., with Rainy Day Books handling sales.


Personnel Changes at the Vermont Book Shop

Effective July 1, Jenny Lyons will join the Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, Vt., as sales and marketing manager. She is the former marketing manager at the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, and a former bookseller at the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., where she joined the bookselling community in 1992.


Pennie Picks The Boys in the Boat

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (Penguin, $17, 9780143125471) as her pick of the month for June. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"My daily commute takes me across Lake Washington, where it's not unusual to see rowers out on the water. For years the rowers blended into the scenery, and then I read The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

"It's the true story of the University of Washington rowing team that competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Yes, it's a book about rowing. And it's a book about my hometown, Seattle, in an earlier day. But on a broader scale, it's about the beginning of Hitler's reign. It's about the faith of a coach, the wisdom of a craftsman shell maker and friendships that last a lifetime. And it's about the nine-member rowing team that, ultimately, came together to be part of something much bigger than any individual."



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Piper Kerman on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison (Spiegel & Grau, $16, 9780385523394), along with Jenji Kohan, creator of the Netflix series of the same name.

---

Tomorrow on CNN's Sanjay Gupta: Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781451624427).


TV: MaddAddam

HBO has put into development MaddAddam, a drama series executive produced by Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky (Noah, Black Swan, Pi, Requiem for a Dream) through his Protozoa Pictures banner. Deadline.com reported that the project, based on Margaret Atwood’s trilogy Oryx and Crake, Year of the Flood and MaddAddam, "is being developed as a potential directing vehicle for Aronofsky." Atwood will be a consulting producer.


Books & Authors

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcovers
The Steady Running of the Hour: A Novel by Justin Go (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476704586). "There are so many reasons to want other readers to immerse themselves in this all-embracing novel--the shimmering unreality of life in London before Ashley's deployment to France; the convincing portrayal of the grim horrors of trench warfare; the struggles of mountaineering on Everest; Tristan's compulsion to discover a piece of his family's past. Justin Go handles all these scenarios with a sure hand, and then concludes the whole with an entirely convincing ending. This beautifully haunting story will appeal to a wide audience of readers." --Nicola Rooney, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Other Story: A Novel by Tatiana De Rosnay (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250045133). "Nicolas Duhamel's first novel is an amazing worldwide bestseller, but one has to have strong legs to carry the weight of such success and Nicolas doesn't have those. He soon transforms into a vain, egocentric creature, keeping track of his fame through Twitter and Facebook as his friends and family slowly turn away from him. When he takes some time off in an exclusive hotel on an Italian island, Nicolas finally starts to realize that, in spite of all his success and wealth, there is no happiness in his life. A captivating novel about a man in search of his identity and the price of fame." --Jean-Paul Adriaansen, Water Street Books, Exeter, N.H.

Paperback
Between Wrecks by George Singleton (Dzanc Books, $15.95, 9781938103797). "I laughed so hard reading this book that it doubled as a workout. Singleton imagines absurd situations played out by characters who tie their luck in knots: a student in an online Southern culture course looks for truth in a scrapbooking club; an uncle makes a killing selling parachutes on the off-chance of sinkholes; a woman funnels her husband's scratch-ticket winnings into never-ending home remodels. These characters manage their fates with peculiar, hilarious, sometimes heart-wringing methods. Fans of George Saunders and Kurt Vonnegut will find a lot to love here." --Julie Wernersbach, BookPeople, Austin, Texas

For Ages 9 to 12
The Last Wild by Piers Torday (Viking, $16.99, 9780670015542). "This is a gripping page-turner with beautifully crafted characters, a compelling storyline, and a critically important set of lessons about the nature of courage, answering the call for justice no matter how difficult the path might be, and maintaining faith when things seem darkest. For a bookstore focused on peacemaking, gender equality, and sustainable living, this book hits all of the criteria for belonging on our shelves and in our customers' hands, including a most important measure--it is a darned good read!" --Craig Wiesner, Reach & Teach, San Mateo, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Brahmin: L. Alison Heller

 

photo: Anne Joyce

L. Alison Heller is a divorce lawyer and family mediator who helps couples divorce with their sanity intact. She grew up in Connecticut and attended Bates College in Maine. She temped and interned and shelved books, trying a little of this and a little of that, before obtaining a degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her family. The Never Never Sisters (New American Library, June 3, 2013) is her second novel.

On your nightstand now:

Cure for the Common Break-up by Beth Kendrick, who is always so witty and fun to read, and The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. I've also saved a special spot for Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke's forthcoming debut, Your Perfect Life. I'm really excited about it as I'm already in love with their voices from their blog.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl. Also, Robert Kraus's Leo the Late Bloomer, Munro Leaf's Ferdinand the Bull and, of course, Don Freeman's Corduroy--a sweetly sensitive little trio.

Your top five authors:

Oh, so tough. My mind blanks when confronted with the need to narrow my favorites to five. But I have always found something that moves and/or engrosses me in anything I've read written by Jon Krakauer, Liane Moriarty, Junot Díaz, Roald Dahl and Emily Giffin.

Book you've faked reading:

Definitely Faulkner, definitely while in high school. I usually fess up to my ignorance, but in high school I remained mum, in order to give the misimpression that I'd completed (and understood) the assignment.

Book you're an evangelist for:

To make up for the answer above and prove that I was not a total slacker as a student, I remember reading William Golding's Lord of the Flies in school, not being able to shut up about it and immediately rereading it after finishing. More recently: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Why Can't I Be You by Allie Larkin, Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, Me Before You by JoJo Moyes and Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (the latter inspired me to write a blog post about it and held up to a second read).

Book you've bought for the cover:

How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue, and--bonus!--it was a fantastic read. She writes with such unbelievable grace and beauty and really puts you right inside her characters' heads.

Book that changed your life:

I remember reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and getting that now-familiar feeling of diving into a maw of sweet, futile sadness. It was probably the first time a fictional work made me want to cry and keep reading (or the first time I realized it), but that's the thing about books--they all change your life while you're reading them.

Favorite line from a book:

This is on my mind because my friend and I were just talking about the genius of this book and this chapter in particular: "To say I'm an overrated troll, when you have never even seen me guard a bridge, is patently unfair." --Tina Fey, Bossypants

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

My daughter and I read Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory during our subway commute to her school this past fall. Her reading tastes made such a leap this year and seeing her enjoy the serial experience of reading a little each day, leaning on the edge of that bright orange seat for more, made me so happy.


Book Review

Review: Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation

Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation by Elizabeth Pisani (W.W. Norton, $26.95 hardcover, 9780393088588, June 23, 2014)

Whenever disaster strikes Indonesia, as it so often does in this active seismotectonic epicenter, we scratch our heads and turn to Google maps to locate the source of the bad news. There is a reason for our vague geographical understanding--this archipelago, home to 250 million people, was cobbled together in 1945 after 150 years of Dutch colonization, followed by Japanese occupation in World War II. Spread over 3,000 land miles if arranged tip to tip (with its waters included, much longer) and encompassing countless islands, languages and customs, Indonesia is a smorgasbord of a country best tasted a bite at a time. This is exactly what London journalist and epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani (The Wisdom of Whores) does in Indonesia, Etc.

When Indonesia became independent, its brief declaration officially addressed its plan for unification as follows: "Matters relating to the transfer of power, etc. will be executed carefully as soon as possible." It is the etc. of that statement that drives Pisani's fascination with the country where she first lived in 1991, returned in 2001, and most recently revisited in 2011. For her, Indonesia is "one giant Bad Boyfriend.... It prompts laughter, produces that warm fuzzy feeling that goes with familiarity and slightly embarrassing shared intimacies. Then it forgets important anniversaries, insults friends, and tells endless low-grade lies... you know full well it will all end in tears, and yet you keep coming back for more." Indonesia, Etc. is the chronicle of her most recent visit when she packed up a duffel and traversed much of the country, island by island, dialect by dialect, meal by meal. Her story is as close as we may come to a feet-on-the-street, impassioned and amusing understanding of the fourth-largest-populated country in the world.

Containing 60% of Indonesia's population and the capital city Jakarta (the world's second-largest metropolitan area after Tokyo), the island of Java drives the politics and commerce of the country. Of Jakarta, Pisani says, "It is a vast, chaotic, selfish, stroppy monument to ambition and consumption, a city that knows no bounds... crowded, polluted, and noisy." So she lights out for the territory--by boat, car, bus, plane and foot--to check out the more remote islands: Sumba, with its rural, primitive landscape of sun-scorched rocks and fields that were covered in sandalwood before they were clear-cut for export; Lembata, where dolphin hunters armed with harpoons set out in leaky boats; the eternally rebellious and wealthy Aceh province at the northern tip of Sumatra, whose relentless independence movement took a breather only after the 2004 tsunami claimed 170,000 lives and $7 billion in U.S. aid arrived.

Because of Pisani's willingness to immerse herself in a local habitat ("I had only one rule: 'Just say yes.' "), we are treated to a full portrait of Indonesian culture, politics, language and commerce. One could ask for no better guide to this sprawling country where "farmers go to their rice field on a motorbike, and villagers film a ritual sacrifice on their mobile phones." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: On a 26,000-mile trek across Indonesia, journalist and intermittent resident Pisani entertainingly captures the "red thread" connecting the diverse population in the world's fourth-largest country.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: #BEA14--Translating Great Reads for More Readers

I'm not sure when it first occurred to me that I was hooked. Perhaps on Friday, as I saw a line of people gathering at the Melville House Books booth to meet Mariusz Szczygiel and get a signed copy of Gottland: Mostly True Stories from Half of Czechoslovakia (translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones). Or maybe it was Wednesday, during the panel "Case Studies: Successful Insight from Translators and Editors," when moderator Esther Allen cited a 2003 New York Times article headlined "America Yawns at Foreign Fiction." She then pointed out that Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle: Book Three (translated by Don Bartlett), was the featured review in that day's edition of the Times.

"There's been a big change in the last 10 years," Allen said. Panelist and Penguin editor John Siciliano added that Entertainment Weekly had recently featured two stories on Swiss author Joël Dicker's The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (translated by Sam Taylor). "That was just astonishing to me."

Probably it was both of these moments, and many more, that drew me again and again to BookExpo America's Global Market Forum: Books in Translation events. What I loved about this year's program was that discussions weren't limited to: "What can we do?" They often focused on: "What do we do next and better?" And while Americans may not be reading enough books in translation (though I only heard the old 3% figure a couple of times, which is a record), they appear to be reading more each year.

"It's definitely a different time. It's kind of eerie," said translator Anthony Shugaar, who noted there is still a resistance to stories that do not fit preconceived notions of a country or culture. "It's definitely a huge change, but it's amazing how much baggage we're still carrying along."

Maria Campbell, owner of an international literary scouting agency, praised foreign publishers for becoming savvier: "How international books are presented to the American market has gotten better.... I think that the actual mechanisms have improved dramatically." She also said "publishers and readers are more adventurous" in seeking out fiction. "I sense even more since 2008... the financial crisis here was the beginning of 'let's look around and see what's out there.' " She added that 9/11 played an early role, as did websites like Words Without Borders.

"We also need a greater recognition of translators," Campbell noted. In fact, translators were at the forefront of many discussions. "It's not about the words; it's about what you get from the words," said Shugaar. Marcos Giralt Torrente, author of The End of Love (translated by Katherine Silver), said authors "need time for writing. We need time to find the right word. Maybe hours, maybe days.... We need translators who have time, too. They need to be paid... You can be poorly translated by a good translator who doesn't have time.... I feel very lucky because I've worked with three stars of translation.... What you ask of a translator is to recognize your own voice. I could recognize my voice. None of them betrayed my voice. None of them betrayed my style."

Editor Sal Robinson, translator Antonia Lloyd-Jones and author Mariusz Szczygiel with publishers Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians at Melville House booth

"Making Translation Work: The Author, the Translator & the Editor" featured panelists representing two publishers--Melville House, with translator Lloyd-Jones, editor Sal Robinson and author Szczygiel; and Europa Editions, with publisher Michael Reynolds and Marco Malvaldi, author of Three Card Monte and Game for Five (translated by Howard Curtis).

Lloyd-Jones offered a step-by-step explanation of how she puts together a presentation folder and said: "I've seen a lot of change in my career." Noting that she began when translators names were often not even included on a book, she spoke of the "professionalization of translators" and efforts to improve the business by translators themselves. "We have some good organizations.... I'm now mentoring younger translators in Britain."

Robinson observed that, "as an editor, you're a reader first. You ask yourself, Is this something I would pick up?" She also noted that translated genre fiction can have certain advantages when reaching out to an English-speaking readership: "Crime novels can sometimes tell you something about a society you can't get in another novel."

"Discoverability is the real challenge for the industry at the moment," said Reynolds, adding that a translated work "is very complex and takes a lot of effort and a lot of energy. So you have to choose the right author.... If there is an obstacle, it may be in the publishing industry itself rather than among readers."
 
Malvaldi noted that "something common in the country where you write can be new and uncommon in the country where it is published," a point Ann Goldstein, translator and member of the New Yorker's editorial staff, explored later in her presentation "How to Edit a Translation." For an editor, one of the key tasks is to consider obscure or unfamiliar references and decide how much help a reader needs, since translators would naturally be more familiar with the nuances of a particular language and culture. "The main thing is that you're dealing with two authors. The translator is also an author," she said.

"It's an immersion into another culture and a reading of signifiers," translator Allison Markin Powell, founder of the website Japanese Literature in English, told BEA's Books in Translation program coordinator Ruediger Wischenbart during the final event of the show. "I do try to gear toward a general reader.... I work within trade publishing. I'm looking for work an American audience might want to read."

And that, as it happens, is what we all had in common at Global Forum: the search for our next great read. --Robert Gray, contributing editor


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