Publishers Launch

ISLANDERS by John BarlowA traditional book launch, at least in my experience, is a pretty nerve-wracking affair. You wait to hear whether the pre-publication orders are good, and a week or two prior to the launch itself you get the Publishers Weekly and Kirkus reviews. If you’re lucky you also get some early reviews in newspapers and magazines. For most books, that’s probably the high-point. Because few books gain any real traction immediately after their release, although of course this is exactly what is needed if your book is to remain on the shelves of bookstores for more than a month or two.

[ANECDOTE. When my first book was out in the UK, a beautiful hard back, my partner went into a large branch of Waterstones in London and asked for it. ‘Oh, yes,’ the guy said, ‘we have it in the storeroom. We didn’t think it was going to sell, so we didn’t put it out.’ This was on the very day of its launch.] Continue reading “Publishers Launch”

Bilingual eBooks

Bilingual-ebooksYears ago, when I was learning Spanish, I used to read a book of Spanish short stories published by Penguin. Twenty-odd years later, it’s still in print.

All the stories in it are by great Spanish writers. But that’s not why I read them; apart from anything else, my Spanish in those days was nowhere near good enough to appreciate their literary quality.

I read them because they came with parallel translations in English; Spanish on the left page, English on the right. In theory you could read a line in the original then jump across to the English version and check how you were doing. Even if you don’t like jumping, you always have the translation to see how you’re doing.

I still have the book, and I still read it occasionally. There’s something reassuring about having a full translation at your fingertips when you read in a foreign language, the idea that you won’t be left stranded if a tricky verb construction simply defeats you at a key moment in the story, ruining everything. These days parallel bilingual books for kids are pretty common, but not so much for adults. Continue reading “Bilingual eBooks”