AmazonCrossing Reports Uptick in Submissions from Arabic

AmazonCrossing Editorial Director Gabrielle Page-Fort spoke with Len Edgerly, on the podcast “The Kindle Chronicles,” about Amazon’s dominance in the literature-in-translation market and where the publisher is going next:

“When we got started,” Page-Fort told Edgerly over the phone “we were really excited by the fact that it would be a  significant contribution to the publishing community, to focus on translations.”

That was in 2010.

“And in the 7 years that we’ve been focused in this space,” Page-Fort said, according to the Three Percent literary database, “we’ve become the largest publisher of translated literature in the US.”

Part of what has made the AmazonCrossing project so dominant is surely resources and reach. There aren’t many publishers that could start up a new imprint and, within seven years, publish more than 300 books. Nor are there many that could turn translated titles into bestsellers or have the resources to start translating into other languages as well. But another part of AmazonCrossing’s success is that they weren’t necessarily looking for “high literature” in translation, but anything that’s fun.

“I think one of the assumptions behind that 3% statistic is that readers don’t want translations,” Page-Fort said, “but what we’ve seen really belies that assumption,” noting that several of their titles have reached best-seller lists.

It’s unclear what effect Amazon and AmazonCrossing will ultimately have on literature in translation. But, as Page-Fort said, it has brought together a diversity of voices, including books from 36 countries in 21 languages. “The global nature of our business allows us to find a wide variety of stories from around the world.”

AmazonCrossing has not yet brought out a book in Arabic. However, last month, they started accepting submissions in a number of new languages, including Arabic.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number and the diversity of submissions since the announcement and we’ve also seen a number of applications from translators looking to work with us,” Page-Fort said.

She added: “Specifically, Arabic is a language that’s somewhat unreachable from the community that we have built so far and we’ve received a number of extremely interesting Arabic submissions since localizing into the Arbaic language. We’re reviewing those now.”

Listen to the whole discussion of translation and AmazonCrossing, starting around minute 18:00: