Monday, October 20, 2008

American Insularity a Miscalculation?

Motoko Rich at the New York Times Book Review remarks, "It is a commonly held assumption that Americans don’t like to read authors who write in languages they don’t understand." This assumption translated into insular behavior at last week's Frankfurt Book Fair: "By and large, the American publishers spend most of the week in Hall 8, the enormous exhibit space where English-language publishers hold court."

But David R. Godine, a small independent publisher from Boston, thinks U.S. publishers are making a miscalculation:

When you look at how much is paid for a mediocre midlist author [in the U.S.] and how much you have to pay to get a world-class author who has been translated into 18 languages, it is ridiculous that more people don’t invest in buying great literature.
Mr. Godine has purchased the rights to foreign books for as little as $2,000.

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