Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Will your university press book do well in a Taiwanese edition?

Publisher's Weekly reports that some entrepreneurial businesses are looking for university press titles to translate into Chinese. One company, Éditions du Flâneur, actively seeks such titles. Here is a passage quoted at length from PW:

Human science is six-year-old Flâneur's business. Founded by Tsun-shing Cheng, an associate professor at the National Tsing Hua University, it kicked off its program with the translation of Vocabulaire de la Psychoanalyse in December 2000. "We have published about a dozen titles, mostly French translations. Lately we have been looking at publications from various university presses around the world, and one which will be published soon is Leviathan and the Air-Pump from Princeton," says Cheng. With a catalogue that lists Burning Your Boats, Magic Toyshop, Nadja: Les yeux de Clerambault, Freud and the Non-European, Black Hamlet, Savage Freud and La pensee du dehors, it would seem that Flâneur caters mostly to field practitioners, postgraduate students and rather high-brow readers. But three forthcoming titles—Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus, E.M. Cioran's A Short History of Decay and Tsurumi Shunsuke's An Intellectual History of Wartime Japan, 1931–1945—reveal a different story. "We're branching out into works that are related to Taiwan and the Taiwanese people. Shunsuke, for instance, talks about the impact of war on the people involved. It's a very timely publication, given the present sentiment in this region about Japan's role in World War II and its past military aggression in Asia."

Explains editor Yi-zheng Zhou (Cheng's former student), "Our familiarity with the field has definitely been beneficial to our publishing program. We have a clear blueprint of what needs to be published or translated—i.e., essential readings and latest findings—and what to add to those already in the market in order to provide a more complete reading list in the field of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis."

At Flâneur, rights negotiation is quite a personal affair. "There's an advantage to being in the field and knowing the authors and the publishers. We get more flexible rights arrangements and, in most cases, lower charges. On the whole, European authors and publishing houses are more eager to get their titles published—wider dissemination of information being their main concern—and would accept a nominal fee to cover their expenses." The average fee paid by Cheng is around $1,200. "But, of course, some of the titles we bought aren't from the frontlist and, no doubt, cost less," Zhou adds.

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