Steal My Book!
November 19, 2012 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Steal My Book! Why I'm abetting a rogue translation of my novel. This is the story of how author Peter Mountford discovered that his novel A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism was being translated for an unauthorized e-book version, and why he decided to help the struggling Russian-language translator. Audio interview with Mountford on CBC Radio's Q.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl (4 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This gives me provisional fuzzy feelings. Provisional, because there is certainly a Russian black market publisher making money here exploiting AlexanderIII's hard work, his willingness to work for peanuts, and Mountford's good will. As Mountford notes, it's not like the Russian language rights would be all that much to pay for.
posted by JHarris at 2:12 PM on November 19, 2012

I too am hard-working Russian translator! At many authors have trouble with free advice to people who love them. I applaud both hands for the author's selfless cooperation with his underground translator!

Seriously, I don't know the upside in this situation. The Russian Internet is host to what may be the world's largest, most diverse book pirating community. You can even find many popular contemporary English-language authors there. On the other hand, RuNet is full of cruddy translations of cheap English-language potboilers. So Mountford's book is getting "translated into" a cheap, cruddy potboiler (assuming it wasn't intended to be one). Because cruddy potboilers are what Russian readers expect in translation. The translation doesn't pay, the profits are low, these things come out in dismal little editions that people eat up indiscriminately. So even had Mountford's book legitimately come out with a quality Russian translation, he wouldn't stand to gain much. The majority of leisure readers don't read for the accuracy of translation. At best, I guess, this is turning into a PR opportunity for Mountford himself, and I hope he milks it for all it's worth.
posted by Nomyte at 2:52 PM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I found it weird that he kept helping the translator, but his reasoning did make sense: if I were an author, I would be just as worried about the potentially crappy and misleading translation of my work as I would be about not getting paid for it. I think he wanted to keep his work from becoming one of the badly-translated cheap potboilers that Nomyte refers to, but what a losing battle.

At best, I guess, this is turning into a PR opportunity for Mountford himself, and I hope he milks it for all it's worth.

In the audio interview, Mountford reiterates his comment from the Atlantic article about how anything that gets people reading his work is satisfying. But he also makes a comment about how difficult it is to make a living as a novelist. The tone of the article strikes me as a little more like he's shrugging it off, but in the audio interview I felt like he was more conflicted about it--maybe just resigned.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:54 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Funnily enough, you can't buy this on Kindle (UK) - so he missed a trick there.
posted by devnull at 7:15 AM on November 20, 2012

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