sábado, 30 de agosto de 2014

Off with translations?

Sorry. Not that there haven't been things to write about this month. Rather, too many things. However, yesterday I knew of a couple of data...

Background: besides having mandatory agency pricing in hardcopy books, the Spanish entertainment market is heavily dependent on translations. Translations that aren't quite the same as in Ibero-America. Movies are translated (and subsidized; apparently, the majors and State keep pressuring the government to keep those, and yay for free market), which kind of feeds on the rest, and creates an environment where a few corporations get most of the public money, because tax rebates for filming, for example, are next to nil (so, they're subsidizing distribution but cutting down production; imagine that in any other industry).

Enter boardgames, RPGs and such. Again, the Spanish market is sub-optimal. But... You see, things like kickstarter, verkami (a local one, geared to films, music and books, mostly) and some small enterprises allow for small-batch distribution... and the batch is unlikely to be any much better, unless you're talking things like "The Hobbit, The Game".

Now, the thing is that Spanish publishers have been pushing for rather heavy venue promotions, exclusives and such for the big games (say, Tolkien-related launches; one of them had a 5-year exclusive deal with the local equivalent to Walmart [*]). And the small ones are starting to say they won't translate theirs and will, instead, redistribute originals, maybe slightly rebranded. Meanwhile, they scare off small shops and investors.

I hope they realize they MUST do this right, exactly right, from the beginning. They just lost the little bit of buffer they had (people who needed the product translated). Because if they don't translate, they're a pared down amazon, and I'm being polite. If their exact same product reaches me two weeks after US release, at 2x the cost... mayhaps amazon is better. If they couldn't translate soon enough (which, to me, means they didn't bother to get advance copies guaranteeed for translation in contract), I don't think they're going to ship soon enough and, frankly, Spanish S&H costs are off, way off.

But this is a blog on publishing, yes?

Yes, it is. My point is that every single point up there can be translated to troubles in hardcopy publishing, ebooks... My quip about amazon shipping US-pulished games before their Spanish distributor is a direct copy from the situation with the US editions of Harry Potter. The one on the government putting money in the wrong place could segue into the legal troubles and loops for publishing books privately, and so on.

Which makes the local ecosystem hostile to progress... which leads to disruption. What would be revolutions if we talked politics and has rallying cries like "Napster!" or "Down with Legacy!" in the e-publishing zone. Because if it's easier for me to publish through CreateSpace than a local printer, local businesses are losing a customer. A small one, sure... one after another. It adds up. It means that, instead of local production, you're importing. And so on, and on...

Take care.

[*] And entered into criminal-accomplice zone (and penalized) with certain things that cost them, for example, the local distribution of some trading card games. They had the harebrained idea that detail (one card at a time) had to be cheaper than bulk (packs and boxes). See why I don't trust their business sense?

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