Will Crowdfunding Become an Important Tool for Supporting Translations? A Look at Darf’s Spina Kickstarter

London-based Darf Publishers recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the translation and publication of Colonial Tales, the second volume of Alessandro Spina’s historical epic, The Confines of The Shadow:

Darf published the first volume of Alessandro Spina’s historical epic, The Confines of The Shadow, trans. André Naffis-Sahely, in 2015, also supported by a small crowdfunding campaign. The publishing house learned from that experience, and their new crowdfunding campaign, for Colonial Tales, has already raised more than the first.

Ghazi Gheblawi, Senior Editor at Darf Publishers, answered a few questions about this Kickstarter, about the works of Alessandro Spina, and the role of crowdfunding in a future publishing ecosystem.

Why a kickstarter around this particular title (vs. others on the Darf docket)? 

Ghazi Gheblawi: We have been planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign for one of our titles as a way to assess whether this method will be feasible to fund future projects. From our research we found that other independent publishers are using crowdfunding effectively to raise not only necessary funds for their projects but also to win new readers to their line of titles. There is no specific reason we picked up this particular book for a crowdfunding campaign, but we are counting on the fact that a work of fiction translated from Italian dealing with the colonial legacy, could have a better chance to succeed in raising the targeted funds.

What role do you think kickstarter can play in the publishing ecosystem? Is it or will it become an important tool for funding translations?

GG: Crowdfunding is becoming a useful tool for independent authors and publishers to reach a diverse readership. Kickstarter is well known tool to support a variety of projects, but there are new platforms that are utilizing the same model as a specific tool to fund book publishing like Unbound.com, that managed to disrupt the classical/traditional process of publishing. We think that given the scarcity of funding options for translation, crowdfunding will be an interesting tool to tap into for future projects.

Why do you (personally) feel the Spinas are important to translate into English? What do they bring to English that doesn’t exist elsewhere?

GG: Spina’s work is so important on different levels. Its an amazing literary experiment by a unique writer, who embodied in him the different and diverse cultures in the East and West. The subject it tackles through prose and poetic/lyrical style, incorporating different genres from novels, novellas, short stories and plays, is timely and has an important and historical resonance. I think its one of the rare works of literature that deals with the colonial legacy of Italy in Libya and its outcomes that we are living some of its manifestations today in the world.


If you’re interested in Colonial Tales, and the crowdfunding campaign, you can see more at Kickstarter, read an excerpt of the second volume, Colonial Tales, on the Darf website, and watch the crowdfunding video below.