Wednesday, February 17, 2010
We note in our website that our books are translated into 23 languages and we provide contact information on the publishers. Behind this mundane information lurk inspiring stories of how these translations came into being. Over the next few months, we’ll give you a more in-depth look at some of these extraordinary people.
With such a number of remarkable stories to tell, it is difficult to decide which to start with, so I will begin with the most recent. (Next installment will discuss some of our long-term publishing arrangements.)
Last year one of our blogs mentioned the launch of the Portuguese edition of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester Brown. Although we’d had interest over the years from several publishers in Brazil, we had yet to pin down a contract. (Plan B 2.0 was published in Portugal—see later in this post.)
However that was soon to change when we were contacted in April 2008 by Edoardo Rivetti, head of New Content, a magazine publishing house. Edoardo and his wife had been on vacation in New York where he’d picked up a copy of Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. He loved the book and, although he’d not published a book before this, wanted to publish it in Brazil. He even purchased several dozen copies and sent them to government officials, businessmen, and colleagues. It was a number of months before Eduardo found a sponsor to help finance the translation. (The cost of a translation is often the highest part of publishing a book.)
By this time, Lester was well into the next major revision: Plan B 4.0. We agreed that this would be the best edition to publish. Edoardo suggested a simultaneous release of the U.S. and Portuguese editions. W.W. Norton & Co., our U.S. publisher, had the book on a fast track, which meant Edoardo’s team would have to be exceptionally fast. They would have to translate, edit, set in type, proofread, and then print in the same amount of time (about two months) our publisher had to print our press-ready pdfs.
With the help of a team of translators headed by Ricardo Voltolini of Ideia Socioambiental, the translation was completed in record time. We released the U.S. edition on September 30, 2009, and Lester launched the Portuguese edition in Sao Paulo on October 22 and 23. (See blog post.) The launching generated significant attention, bolstering Globo’s on-going effort to promote Plan B through its 2020 Campaign “To dentro”/“I’m in.”
The previous Portuguese edition, Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble, was published in Portugal through the cooperation of two men who separately had requested permission to publish the book. António Cerveira Pinto, an artist who also writes about the world after cheap oil, and Emanuel Pimenta, a member of the European Environmental Tribunal. António felt it the message in the book was so important that he wanted to distribute 2,000 copies of the book for free.
He found a kindred soul in Emanuel who solicited Julio Sarmento, the Mayor of Trancoso, to assist in printing 4,000 copies of the book, which were distributed to government leaders, prominent academics, university libraries, and leaders in other Portuguese-speaking countries. Following our example, they also posted the book online for free downloading.
The book was released at a conference held in Trancoso, where Lester spoke through a video conference hookup.
The success of these ventures started with just one dedicated person.
Reah Janise Kauffman
Next: long-established relationships
Page 1 of 1 pages