Breaking Language Barriers: How Translation Services Can Expand Your Books' Reach

February 27, 2024
Ingram Associate
Breaking Language Barriers: How Translation Services Can Expand Your Books' Reach

To an English speaker, it often seems like a lot of the world speaks English. But the truth is that many people around the world actually don't, or they only know a few words and phrases. Additionally, having simple exchanges in their non-native language isn't the same as reading and comprehending it. That's why it's so important to translate books into other languages, instead of shipping them to other countries in their originally published language only.

When you make your books available in multiple languages you give readers all over the world the chance to understand and experience them more fully. They can identify with characters, picture locations, and get involved in the story. If you have a non-fiction book, it also makes learning the information in it far easier when it's in their native language, so your book will give them additional value and benefit.

The Value of Multilingual Books

While a large number of people in the business world, for example, speak their native language plus English, less than 20% of the world's population speaks English. That means there's more than 80% who won't be able to read the books you're publishing if you don't translate them. The math is simple: a bigger audience equals more potential readers. Not only that, but everyone should have the opportunity to read, and to find and purchase books they enjoy or need.

Not speaking English shouldn't create discrimination against an individual, or a whole community of people, and stop them from having access to a book. Instead, it's important to encourage a love of reading that spans the entire world. You can provide fiction and nonfiction options, along with ebooks and physical books, that give children and adults all over the globe the opportunity to learn, grow, and be entertained. That's a great thing to provide to the world.

Cultural Nuances in Translation

When translating a book from English to another language, it's vital that you're aware of the nuances. For example, cultural phrases are sometimes difficult to translate, or may not have a direct translation from one language to another. A word-for-word translation, such as something you might get from Google Translate, is not going to give you the accuracy you're looking for.

The meaning of what you're trying to say can literally be lost in translation, especially if it's slang. You want to look at the difference between literal translation and ideological translation to provide the best value for readers. In other words, the translation should convey the overall meaning of the original text, while still considering the context of the new language. Otherwise, it's not going to read well after translation. That can result in slow sales and disappointed readers, or even worse: a very inaccurate translation.

A funny, but very real example: “Butt dial” versus “booty call.” Those two slang terms have VERY different meanings, but in a word-for-word translation, could easily become the same thing.

Translation Options

There are options to consider when you need to translate books from English to another language, or even multiple languages. The three main options are using a human translator, AI and a human translator, or AI and a copy editor. Costs will vary depending on the method you choose, the size of the book, and its contents or intended audience.

For example, a trade novel that's around 300 pages can require an investment of several thousand dollars to complete, especially if you're using a human translator only. Translation prices are typically measured by the word count, along with how complex the book is. A children's book would generally be the lowest-priced kind of book, because there are fewer words and simpler concepts. It may cost a few hundred dollars to translate this type of book.

Things to Consider Before Translating

Before you decide to invest in translating your books to other languages, there are a few things you want to think about. First, consider whether your titles are already selling well in their current language demographic. If it's not selling well in English, translating it to Spanish, German, or French is unlikely to help. While it's not impossible that it will be better-received in another country, that's typically not what happens.

Second, take some time to research whether your titles would be in demand in another market. You want to be sure you'll have a market for your books' translated versions. If your subject matter or premise wouldn't be interesting to a particular country's overall culture, for example, translating your books into that country's language may not help you increase your reader base. That being said, if the demand is there, translating your book could be an incredible investment.

Global Connect with Ingram Content Group

Having your book available to readers in multiple languages goes hand-in-hand with having your physical book available in global markets. However, the logistics of this can be tough to navigate. Shipping is one of the biggest concerns when it's time to get your translated books into the hands of eager readers who want to explore and enjoy them. You don't want to end up with a bunch of translated books stuck in-transit, taking weeks or even longer to reach their intended destination.

Global Connect can help! Ingram’s global network of retailers, digital printers, and distribution hubs connects you with readers across the world, so you can reach international readers in a matter of days. Instead of using USA-based printers and shipping overseas, books in the Global Connect program are printed and shipped locally, in the country of their intended destination. This makes it easier and more convenient than ever to get your translated books where they need to go in a timely fashion. Not only can you make a lot of readers very happy, but you can increase profits for your company and fan bases for authors, while supporting international book markets.

It's hard to go wrong with a solution that benefits everyone. If expanding your books' reach is on your mind, quality translation services and the right shipping partner is the way to go. Then, you can send more books into the world with confidence.

Breaking Language Barriers: How Translation Services Can Expand Your Books' Reach
Ingram Associate

Ingram Associate

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