Three Percent

4 December 2016

From Three Percent:

Three Percent launched in the summer of 2007 with the lofty goal of becoming a destination for readers, editors, and translators interested in finding out about modern and contemporary international literature.

. . . .

Unfortunately, only about 3% of all books published in the United States are works in translation. That is why we have chosen the name Three Percent for this site. And that 3% figure includes all books in translation—in terms of literary fiction and poetry, the number is actually closer to 0.7%. While that figure obviously represents more books than any one person could read in a year, it’s hardly an impressive number.

An even greater shame is that only a fraction of the titles that do make their way into English are covered by the mainstream media. So despite the quality of these books, most translations go virtually unnoticed and never find their audience.

Link to the rest at Three Percent

Amazon’s Kindle now lets you read e-books in Indian languages

3 December 2016

From Digital Journal:

Amazon has finally added support for several Indian languages to its Kindle e-reader. For the first time, books written in languages including Hindi, Tamil and Marathi are available to purchase from the Kindle store. “Thousands” are available at launch.

. . . .

Amazon has not previously offered content in local Indian languages, restricting the reach of the Kindle in the country. However, the company is increasingly focusing on growing its sales in India as the nation emerges into the digital age. Amazon expects India to surpass the U.S. market for Kindle sales within the next few years, The Times of India reported today. As such, it’s investing more resources into expanding the content available there.

Link to the rest at Digital Journal

Under pressure from national governments, Commission lowers VAT rates for e-books

2 December 2016

From EurActiv:

Booksellers will be able to sell e-books with low VAT rates to match the discounts already applied to paper books under a change to EU tax law announced today (1 December).

Most EU countries, except Bulgaria and Denmark, allow paper books to be sold with discounted value-added tax rates. The average rate for paper books in the EU is 7.6%; for e-books that figure stands at 19.9%, according to the European Parliament’s in-house think tank.

The move to change VAT law to allow a lower rate for e-books comes after a back-and-forth disagreement between the European Commission, member countries and the European Court of Justice over whether e-books should be sold at the same rates as paper books.

. . . .

The new proposal will allow but not require EU countries to apply lower rates for e-books, which currently make up only 5% of Europe’s bookselling market. The Commission predicts that will grow to a 20% share by 2021.

But e-book sales have already started to fall in some EU countries. The UK publishing association reported lower revenues from e-book sales in 2015 compared to the previous year.

. . . .

“VAT is probably one of the elements which might explain why the e-book market has been growing so slowly,” said Fran Dubruille, director of the European and International Booksellers Federation.

Dubruille says booksellers promote e-books mostly to cater to a small group of customers who prefer them, even though sales have floundered.

Link to the rest at EurActiv and thanks to Nirmala for the tip.

Libraries’ Ambition report offers £4m fund but ‘ignores the real issues’

2 December 2016

From The Bookseller:

The long-awaited Ambition report for Public Libraries has been published, urging local authorities to use libraries to deliver other public services such as health, with the help of a £4m dedicated fund.

Eight months after the draft Ambition document was released, the official document advising on a strategy to create a sustainable sector has been published by the department of culture, media and sport (DCMS), calling on local authorities to use libraries to provide public services such as employment, health and learning opportunities.

Such a use for libraries will help to keep the sector sustainable, the report says, following the closure of hundreds of services across the country since austerity measures came in in 2010 as pressurised local councils seek to make savings.

The document also called on local authorities to make the best use of library buildings, staff and services, urging them to “think innovatively” to help increase reading, literacy and digital access in communities.

. . . .

The Libraries Taskforce is also piloting new ways for libraries to generate income from government initiatives, such as delivering the National Citizen Service programme from libraries for young people from next year.

However, it offers no robust statistics on library closures and redundancies of librarians in the UK, which campaigners had called for. Libraries campaigners have also criticised it for “lacking ambition” and “avoiding” tackling more difficult structural issues the sector is facing.

. . . .

“If we are going to build a country that works for everyone then we need to recognise that libraries are among our most valuable community assets and they remain hugely popular,” he said. “More people went to a library in England last year than visited the cinema, Premier League football games and the top 10 UK tourist attractions combined.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Author’s Vision of a Future Beijing Looks to China’s Present

30 November 2016

From The New York Times:

Sunlight is so scarce that it is rationed based on economic class. Schools are so packed that the poorest parents must wait in line for days to secure spots for their children.

Those are the grim scenes of Hao Jingfang’s “Folding Beijing,” a science-fiction novelette that won a Hugo Awardin August, beating out Stephen King. The story is set in a futuristic Beijing, though many of its scenes seem grounded in the problems vexing Chinese society today.

Ms. Hao, 32, is the first Chinese woman to win a Hugo, conferred by the World Science Fiction Society.

. . . .

Science fiction has taken off in China in recent years, and more and more Chinese authors are gaining international recognitionfor their work. What do you think makes Chinese science fiction unique?

Some Chinese science fiction reads like nonfiction with a few sci-fi elements mixed in. Chinese science fiction isn’t necessarily about the universe, the future, artificial intelligence or technology. It might be about the present or even ancient Chinese history.

. . . .

In “Folding Beijing,” you portray a deeply stratified society in which even mingling among economic classes is forbidden. Why focus on inequality?

We see from history that, at the beginning of every new empire, equality was one of people’s aspirations, but as the empire grew older, inequality appeared again, and people had to overthrow the empire and start all over again. It seems even now there isn’t an ideal solution. Inequality will continue to be a challenge for human society in the future.

. . . .

You have a deep interest in Chinese history. What do you think defines the modern era in China?

I think now is a time of free thought if you look across the broader picture of thousands of years of Chinese history. Thirty years ago, culture and tradition were shattered during the Cultural Revolution. Our generation doesn’t have the same connection to past traditions, and we’ve absorbed so much from Western culture, which is popular.

That has advantages and disadvantages. The bad side is that foreign culture doesn’t have its roots in China, so no matter how much we learn about it, it’s not ours. We don’t know much about traditional culture, which means we are lost. The good side is that we don’t have traditional burdens and are eager to learn unfamiliar things. It’s a time full of uncertainty and potential, and nobody knows where we’re heading.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

William Trevor’s Quiet Explosions

29 November 2016

From The New Yorker:

I first encountered the work of the Irish writer William Trevor, who died this week, at the age of eighty-eight, in one of his masterwork short stories, “The News from Ireland.” This was more than twenty years ago, when I was a graduate student, but I can still summon the emotional jolt, and the riveting sense of fiction’s possibilities that Trevor’s humane, wry, frank, and often melancholy worldview excited in me.

The first sentences of the story go like this:

Poor Irish Protestants is what the Fogartys are: butler and cook. They have church connections, and conversing with Miss Fogarty people are occasionally left with the impression that their father was a rural dean who suffered some misfortune: in fact he was a sexton.

In those few unassuming lines, one can see so much of what made Trevor unsurpassable. With barely an effort, he conjures a time and place and the particular knot of social mores that the story will spend its pages untangling. The gentle condescension of the short opening phrase conveys not the author’s own prejudice about the butler and the cook but a sense of how they are viewed by people who rank above them; we know the world we have stepped into is one where the constraints of social status are unyielding. But, with the fleetness and economy that are the hallmarks of his fiction, Trevor also narrows his focus to tell us how Miss Fogarty defends herself against her low station in life—with pretense and innuendo, and perhaps a dollop of self-delusion. It’s a magician’s trick. A sleight of hand. You barely realize what has happened and suddenly there you are, in the mid-nineteenth century on an Irish estate during the tyrannical years of the potato famine, immersed in a story of ordinary people quietly wrestling with fate.

This is the trick that Trevor pulled off again and again, with each story and novel he wrote in the course of his decades-long career. He drew us into the lives of English and Irish shopkeepers and farmers, priests and parishioners, and even those who, by dint of circumstance or carefully curated effort, ascended a rung or two on the hierarchy. And although his work very much reflected the prevailing political and religious mores of its settings, it did not focus on the large sweep of history. Instead, Trevor settled his gaze on private yearnings and small, wayward impulses: stories about siblings scuffling over small-bore inheritances, about lost love, about minor duplicities, and, always, about the press and passage of time.

Link to the rest at The New Yorker

Here’s a link to William Trevor’s books.

German e-Book Sales Increase by 1.7% in 2016

26 November 2016

From GoodEreader:

The German e-book market is profitable and for the past few years there is solid growth. Major publishers are responding well to consumer demands that digital prices should be more affordable. According to the German Publishers Association in the first nine months of 2016 the German e-book market increased by 1.7%, yet revenue from ebook sales increased by just 0.1%.

The vast majority of readers in Germany continue to buy hardcovers and paperbacks. Major publishers only see 5.2% of their revenue derive from audiobook and e-book sales. Still, the people who buy e-books tend to be repeat customers. German consumers bought an average of 6 e-books in 2016, which is an increase of 1.8% from 2015.

Link to the rest at GoodEreader


Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back Into China

23 November 2016

From The New York Times:

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has cultivated relationships with China’s leaders, including President Xi Jinping. He has paid multiple visits to the country to meet its top internet executives. He has made an effort to learn Mandarin.

Inside Facebook, the work to enter China runs far deeper.

The social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added.

. . . .

Facebook does not intend to suppress the posts itself. Instead, it would offer the software to enable a third party — in this case, most likely a partner Chinese company — to monitor popular stories and topics that bubble up as users share them across the social network, the people said. Facebook’s partner would then have full control to decide whether those posts should show up in users’ feeds.

. . . .

[T]he project illustrates the extent to which Facebook may be willing to compromise one of its core mission statements, “to make the world more open and connected,” to gain access to a market of 1.4 billion Chinese people. Even as Facebook faces pressure to continue growing — Mr. Zuckerberg has often asked where the company’s next billion users will come from — China has been cordoned off to the social network since 2009 because of the government’s strict rules around censorship of user content.

The suppression software has been contentious within Facebook, which is separately grappling with what should or should not be shown to its users after the American presidential election’s unexpected outcome spurred questions over fake news on the social network.

Link to the rest at The New York Times 

Mahey-Morgan urges publishers to focus on boardroom diversity

16 November 2016

From The Bookseller:

Crystal Mahey-Morgan, the founder of OWN IT!, has called on the industry to stop focusing on entry-level schemes to improve diversity, but instead to look at the boardrooms “where the real decisions are actually made”. She has called on the industry to interview at least one minority candidate for every role it advertises throughout the whole of 2017.

Giving the keynote speech at the Building Inclusivity in Publishing conference yesterday (15th November) held by the London Book Fair (LBF) and the Publishers Association (PA), with The Bookseller as a media partner, Mahey-Morgan spoke of the moves that publishers are taking to improve lack of diversity in the industry and criticised what she sees as the over-reliance on entry-level schemes which ignore diversity in board rooms.

“We need to stop believing that these entry level schemes are something to be proud of because we all know it’s the board rooms where the real decisions are actually made,” she said. “If you want to talk to me about schemes, then where are the schemes to ensure that our boardrooms are more diverse? Where are the schemes – working alongside the entry level ones – to find senior people from diverse backgrounds? Even if that means enticing them in from other industries if we don’t have them to promote from within right now.”

She added: “But wait, let’s think about that for a minute. If you bring in a new person, say from a more diverse background, from a different industry to come into a board room does that mean an existing member would have to step aside? Would that be a step too far? Do we really want change or do we just want to talk about it? Let’s not be naive in thinking that in a few years time that entry level candidates will be promoted into decision making roles. Making the whole conversation about entry level, as we all too often do recently, ignores the very real glass ceilings that exist right now.”

. . . .

Robyn Travis, an author with OWN IT!, also gave a keynote speech at the conference, detailing his journey into becoming an author and describing how he didn’t feel supported by the publishing industry and how he was alienated from reading as a young child because he didn’t see himself represented in the books that he read.

. . . .

Speaking of the publication of Travis’ second book Mama Can’t Raise No Man (OWN IT!), Mahey-Morgan suggested that Travis is “possibly” the only male black British debut novelist published in 2016. “That’s not through a lack of emerging black British talent or Asian British talent. It’s a flaw in the industry for not finding it and believing in it and publishing it”, she said.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG has found indie authors to be quite diverse.

Hachette UK to target diversity in senior management

15 November 2016

From The Bookseller:

Hachette UK is to target diversity in its senior management team with its Diverse Leaders Future Mentoring Scheme, designed to give up-and-coming stars from non-traditional publishing backgrounds the skills and confidence to rise up in the business.

The measure is one of four being launched in Hachette’s Changing the Story programme, which aims to make it “the publisher and employer of choice for all people”, regardless of age, disability, race, gender, sexuality or socio-economic background.

Places on the scheme will be limited and the selection process will be “rigorous”, concentrating on diversity and potential. Each successful candidate will be paired with a Hachette UK Board member who will have received professional mentoring training to ensure that this “intense” programme of one-to-one mentoring is “fruitful and rewarding” for mentors and mentees alike.

. . . .

Sharan Matharu, editorial assistant at Hodder & Stoughton, said: “Our aim is to get young adults excited about different aspects of publishing and to raise awareness of the industry in those to whom publishing might not seem an obvious career path.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG wonders if this initiative will help eliminate Big Publishing’s common practice of pushing out older and higher-paid editors in favor of younger and cheaper versions.

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