On Wet Asphalt, I wrote about the novels of Jin Yong and how most of them have never been translated in English. I’ve come to discover that Jin Yong, now in his retirement, received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, and then was so moved that he decided to get a unhonorary doctorate from Oxford and is studying there as we speak. This probably had a lot to do with the motivation for Oxford University Press to publish those expensive hardcover translations of his first and last books. They were apparently planning on translating more of them but it looks like sales have not been great and they scrapped the project. (Though I think the lack of sales has a lot to do with the expense of these editions (this stuff is supposed to be pop culture) and the lack of publicity — but that’s admitedly supposition.)
Here’s a fantasy: if I had the money, I’d love to start an independant publishing venture to translate and publish his novels. I honestly think an indie press with some vision could really do a lot with those books. But it would take capital; at bare minimum I’d have to hire somebody who knew something about the business of publishing to help run the thing, a lawyer, translator(s), a publicist, a graphic designer, and then there’s printing costs and everything involved in that, not to mention securing the rights to the books. And then, of course, there’s no guarantee that it would make any money whatever. And I’d even like to come out with some hardcover editions, mainly to sell to the libraries so that even if the project was a total failure these books would at least exist in English somewhere where someone who was really interested could find them, and thus I would have given something to the world. Which is the real point. I want to see these books available in English. I want to read them.
Anybody want to fund a risky publishing venture?
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