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Czech translators and their concerns at the Prague Book Fair (10–13 May 2018)
Czech translators and their concerns at the Prague Book Fair (10–13 May 2018)
4 Jun, 2018

Translators enjoyed much attention at the last Prague Book Fair (https://www NULL.eepg NULL.org/index NULL.php?shortCutUrl=Prague-International-Book-Fair), visited by 46,000 book lovers, where as many as 26 countries participated in various programmes throughout the four days.

Speed-dating session of translators and publishers

Apart from numerous readings organized by publishers and a complex introduction of literature from Latin America in the context of Czech book market, several major events highlighted our profession, thanks to the Czech Literary Centre (http://www NULL.culturenet NULL.cz/en/Czech-in/literature/czech-literary-centre/) (CLC).

The CLC organized a much expected three-day series of speed dating, enabling ten translators to address up to ten publishers per session. Both parties will benefit from subsequent feedback.

A panel of translators between ‘small languages’, namely Hebrew, Slovenian, Korean, Rumanian and Czech, shared their experience.

The discussion on various aspects of book production and distribution, started some time ago, continued, this time with a well-known translator, the editor-in-chief of a publishing house owned by a large media group, and the owner of a relatively small publishing house and chairman of the Union of Czech Booksellers and Publishers.

Impression of session on ‘Out of a love of literature’

The Creative Europe Desk (https://eacea NULL.ec NULL.europa NULL.eu/creative-europe/creative-europe-desks_en) invited editors and translators from Spanish, Finnish and Polish to discuss what working ‘Out of a love of literature’ means. Representatives of authors and translators participated in a debate on the present position, state and strategy of professional associations as well as on their future tasks, aims and policies.

The Czech Literary Translators’ Guild (http://www NULL.obecprekladatelu NULL.cz/) (OP) continuously criticises the bad practices of some publishing houses at its regular Book Fair event. Though the message of the Anti-Award is repeatedly questioned by its ‘winners’, OP feels it is its duty to draw attention to some alarming trends – such as publishing classical literature on school reading lists in long outdated and poorly edited translations even though modern versions exist, and to point out that such commercial aims, often accompanied by an infringement of copyright, can discourage young people from reading. Another trend is to reduce costs by hiring inexperienced translators on unacceptable contract terms, moreover without providing them with adequate editorial input and proofreading. Also, in the case of a bestseller quality series, the publisher refuses to accept the experienced translator who has – brilliantly – translated the previous titles of the series. If this is the strategy of the publisher, namely Omega, and if such a publisher does not hesitate to sacrifice the name or work of an author for financial gain and prefers profit to quality and fairness, then the readers, our young colleagues and maybe also literary agents should be warned against buying products from and entering into cooperation with this entity. It is also the aim of OP to show book producers that the production of unreadable books can be very short-sighted and will only result in the irreversible loss of customers, and that a change in their approach may bring them more in the end.

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