Can you think of a system where only translators decide rates?
Thread poster: Felipe Gútiez

Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:35
German to Spanish
+ ...
May 19, 2010

Hi everybody, specially P (professional, prudent, 10 Points) translators.

Usually the translation market used to be run this way:
-client think a translation job needs to be done because:

1. Law impose it
2. Need to communicate with the market
3. Market research was done and probably there will be enough people interested in buying the translated text, so that it is worth the investment
4. Author/publishing house believe that there will be enough people interested in buying the translated text, so that it is worth the investment

-client contacts translation agency or translator and asks for a quotation
-according to many factors, client and agency/translator decide the price.

This was the usual way how translation price were set.

As for book translation there are some special features.
For most authors/publishing houses, book translation is a kind of a bet. Many authors/publishing houses are too small to make worldwide market studies. They don´t know beforehand if a translated book is going to sell well or not. They usually have no idea of the market where they are going to sell their translated book.

Could you imagine a different system for book translation? Do you have some suggestions? Could you imagine a system where the translator decides beforehand the price and the reader, through escrowing, decides what book should be translated and what not? Would you be interested in working for such a system?

[Editado a las 2010-05-19 07:36 GMT]

[Editado a las 2010-05-19 07:39 GMT]

[Editado a las 2010-05-19 12:26 GMT]


 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:35
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
The publishing industry does not work that way May 19, 2010

Felipe Gútiez wrote:
4. Author/publishing house believe that there will be enough people interested in buying the translated text, so that it is worth the investment


Authors usually have unrealistically high expectations about the interest of the public in their work. That is why most publishers stipulate in their contracts that the print run, price, etc. is determined at the publisher's sole discretion.

Felipe Gútiez wrote:
-client contacts translation agency or translator and asks for a quotation
-according to many factors, client and agency/translator decide the price.


In many cases, publishers have a particularly strong negotiating position. The fact that in most cases it is the publisher who buys the right to have the original work translated and published weighs heavily.

The recognition associated with having one's translation published works very much ion the publishers' favor: lots of translators are ready to work for a fee that is much lower than their usual one – for the sake of an excellent reference. Plus, there is more competition, including academic people, who may be experts of the particular subject field – and for whom the published translation is an excellent reference, helping in their professional career, where "publish or perish" is the name of the game. With their regular income as a researcher or university teacher, they can afford undercutting any freelancer.

Felipe Gútiez wrote:
For most authors/publishing houses, book translation is a kind of a bet. Many authors/publishing houses are too small to make worldwide market studies.


The overwhelming majority of the publishers work in one language market. Translation of the published work into other languages are almost never part of the feasibility studies, so worldwide market studies are not required.

Felipe Gútiez wrote:
They don´t know beforehand if a translated book is going to sell well or not. They usually have no idea of the market where they are going to sell their translated book.


Can you back up this statement with something, please? This assessment seems completely unrealistic to me.

Felipe Gútiez wrote:
Could you imagine a different system for book translation? Do you have some suggestions? Could you imagine a system where the translator decides beforehand the price and the reader, through escrowing, decides what book should be translated and what not?


Yes, I can. But in such schemes the translator becomes the publisher.

Best regards,
Attila


 
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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:35
German to English
Translation follows the auto industry May 19, 2010

For the most part the automakers decide the price they're willing to pay for products their suppliers provide. José Ignacio Lopez became famous at GM for forcing vendors to accept the lowest possible prices (he then went to VW). The translation industry followed this trend as well.

Since its bankruptcy, GM has dumped many of its long-time vendors (including the ad agency, Campbell-Ewald that had been the main agency for 50 years) -- all to lower prices. This includes all types of suppliers. I wouldn't be surprised if were to happen in the translation biz as well. Thanks to globalization and the Internet, anyone with a PC and an Internet connection can be a "translator." This weakens the bargaining position a quality translator may have in establishing a price with a large-quantity customer.


 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:35
German to English
+ ...
Self-publishing May 19, 2010

Felipe Gútiez wrote:

Could you imagine a different system for book translation? Do you have some suggestions? Could you imagine a system where the translator decides beforehand the price and the reader, through escrowing, decides what book should be translated and what not? Would you be interested in working for such a system?


I'm not sure what you mean by "escrowing," but I heard an interesting piece on the radio yesterday about an author self-publishing Kindle versions of books. I could imagine an author and a translator teaming up, agreeing a price for the book translation, and then offering the translation for sale if X number of buyers agree to order the translated e-book, or something along those lines. As Attila said, the translator essentially becomes the publisher.


 

Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:35
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Back to the roots May 20, 2010

For most e-books a translation is not legally compulsory. My suggestion would be to offer a system to interested readers. If there is enough demand for a translation, then the translation is done. How to know if there is demand? Through the Internet, readers can be contacted and asked to show interest and then to pay a escrow. There should be a discount for readers escrowing first (motivation). There should be used all the marketing strategies which work on the Internet.
The business model would be quite simple. People have a need. Many people hate reading in English, they don´t like it. They would like to be able to read in their mother tongue but e-books are not available. The system offers this people a way to be able to read their book in their mother tongue. So, they become great value for money.
The clue is, translator set the price of translation, not the market. The market says which book will be translated, but not how much cost the translation.

Who offer you a way to quote a translation with the price you want? Most probably noneicon_smile.gif


 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:35
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Problems with this scheme May 20, 2010

Felipe Gútiez wrote:
How to know if there is demand? Through the Internet, readers can be contacted and asked to show interest and then to pay a escrow.


In my opinion, this approach is doomed, unless you have built or have access to an enormous network with potential readers. Building such a network from scratch looks next to impossible unless you can offer something attractive from the beginning. So, the only realistic possibility is to use an existing network. By enormous, I mean the size that Amazon has. (Anything much smaller – such as the entire network of ProZ.com users – looks way too small.) Any clue about what such an access would cost?

If you have access to such a network, and ask people to show interest, don't forget that you are asking them a favor. You want to sell them something, and you ask them to help you choose the product. At the very least, you need to provide them with a detailed description of the book – and that takes quite some time, to start with. And as for their responsiveness, I have very serious doubts. Again, take a look at Amazon. For most published books you will have no or very few reviews. Only a very tiny fraction of the books get over a hundred reviews. In a new system, getting a hundred reviews for a product would be an amazing achievement. And it would lead you nowhere: if you sell the book for 10 euros (which is a good ballpark figure for a fiction book of, say, 200 or 300 pages), you have 1000 euros. Print runs smaller than a thousand books won't make any sense – and if you are thinking in print runs over a thousand, then the one hundred prepaid copies are irrelevant. So, doing the market research for individual books does not make sense to me.

Take a look at what the traditional publishing industry offers:

You can go to a bookstore, take a look at the product, read a few pages, and decide whether you want to buy it. (The same with a lot of books on Amazon: the "look inside" and "search inside" features are very useful.) You know what you buy – which one cannot say about your scheme.
You can read reviews from people who have bought and read the book.

But these aspects are only a matter of convenience. There is something much more important: quality.

The usual quality assurance procedures of a renowned publisher include quite a lot of steps: careful selection of the books they want to publish; careful selection of the translator; careful selection of a subject-matter specialist to revise the text, of a copyeditor, of a proof-reader; typesetters, book designers, graphic artists, often with decades of typographic know-how, and a lot more.

If you cannot ensure the same level of quality, you would not do any favor to readers in the long run. And to ensure the same quality, you need more than a translator or an author. Otherwise this initiative will easily turn into a vanity press. Possibly not for all books published this way, but at least for some. Many enough to give a mediocre or bad overall reputation to the whole system.

Felipe Gútiez wrote:
People have a need. They would like to be able to read in their mother tongue but e-books are not available. The system offers this people a way to be able to read their book in their mother tongue.


You mean people know that a good book exists in another language, and they are convinced that want to read that particular one in their mother tongue? I think this occurs practically only when they have already read something from that writer in their language. This is a very unlikely scenario for a writer who has not been translated into a language yet.

Best regards,
Attila


 

Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:35
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Amazon, and not only they would be invited May 20, 2010

Well, Amazon ist just an online shop. Authors sell in Amazon. Publishing houses sell in Amazon. As far as I know, Amazon is not a publishing house. In any case Amazon and the likes, can promote the service since they are in a strong position. If books are translated and sold, Amazon wins, so they will probably agree.
Authors also win, since they get their translation for free.
Translators win most since they decide the price of the translation.
And even the market wins, since this way, only books with high translation demand will go through.
Indeed, it is win-win-win-win situation.


 

Daniel García
English to Spanish
+ ...
Similar scheme for boardgames May 20, 2010

Hi,

Interestingly enough, I have seen a similar schema for the production of board games, although it does not involve translation (yet).

Basically, this is how it works:

- Game publishing house designs a new boardgame and announcs it in their website.

- Customers who are interested on the game, order it and send their credit card detailes (but they are not charged yet). Because they are ordering in advance, they get a 30% discount over the retail price.

- Once at least 500 people order the game, the company finalises the game, makes it ready for printing and announces that it will charge the customers for their orders by a given date. Customers can still cancel their order at this stage.

- When "charge date" arrives, the game publishing house charges their clients. If there are still more than 500, they launch the production of the game (printing it, making the pieces, etc.) and deliver it in 12 weeks to the customers.

- If the number of charged customers is lower than 500, they get their money back and the game is not published.

More information on this scheme here:

http://www.gmtgames.com/s-2-p500.aspx

This seems to work for this very small and spread market of boardgamers which is a bit similar to book selling but also very different in many other aspects.

What makes it work is that the game publishing house is very well known in its market and offers good quality. It does not just publish anything. The risk for the customers is very low.

Whether this would work for publishing books, I don't know...

Daniel


 

Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:35
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Daniel May 21, 2010

Indeed it is very similar process as the one with the games.
The magic of internet is that you can do almost everything online:
-get prospects
-get translators
-do the translation/revision/layout and this collaboratibely
-communicate with your prospects
-buy and pay (the prospects)
-sell and collect money (the buyers)
-send the product (an e-book)
-receive the product (an e-book)
-service to clients (through e-mail, faq, etc.).


 


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