A thought about an experiment in translation

This is on my personal blog instead of the RIDE blog because it’s just me thinking aloud.

Any literary translators out there?

So I was thinking it would be nice to have RIDE available in other languages, but then I thought, No, each translation would probably cost too much to make sense.

So then I thought, what about a royalty split? Translator gets a percentage. But then I thought, No, I had to stop doing royalty splits with authors because the accounting is so impossible, plus it’s kind of insulting to say, Hey, do all this work and you might get a fraction of what I get out of it.

So then I thought, what if the translator just gets all the sales income and I don’t get any part of it?

And then I thought, I’m not actually seeing a down side for anybody here. I wouldn’t make any money, for either my editing/design/production or my own story, but that’s not the same as a loss. The story authors and the artist would be in a similar situation: they’ve been paid and aren’t seeing anything more coming in after that anyway, and any author/artist who didn’t want to participate could just say no thanks. The translator wouldn’t get paid up front, but they wouldn’t have to spend anything, either, and after doing the work, they’d be the foreign publisher. So the first penny that came in on that edition would go directly to them—and so would the ten-thousandth penny.

Since we’re not dealing in physical copies, but rather in .epub, .mobi, and .pdf files, and I’d do the production work (slotting the translated stories into existing files where the English stories currently reside, changing the title on the cover from RIDE to whatever word now goes there, sending the files to the translator) without compensation as part of the experiment, there is no out-of-pocket expense for anybody, just some work for me and some work for the translator.

Translator starts their own accounts at Amazon, Lightning Source, B&N, iBooks, etc., uploads the files, talks it up online, and gets some money. How much money? I have no idea. Not a ton; RIDE isn’t The Hunger Games, and it only exists because I love bikes and wanted to read short stories about them, not because I did any market research. But the money also wouldn’t be zero.

But that’s the experiment’s main question: Is this a viable plan? Would everyone benefit enough to keep doing it? Would there be any kind of “rising tide floats all boats” effect? Would the expansion of the series into more languages help each edition sell more because the series itself becomes better known? Would anybody but the translator end up getting anything out of it? Would the translator get more than a few bucks?

I don’t know. It’s all question, no answer, at this point. But that’s my half-formed idea. What do you think?

If you comment, please include who you are, where you are, and what you do, so I can understand what perspective to read your comment from: Writer, publisher, translator, reader, know-it-all (pick just one, please), continental U.S., Fiji Islands…

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Filed under Anthologies, Books, ebook production, Fiction, Short stories

4 bike thoughts during a break

I STILL CAN’T ADJUST a drivetrain, but it’s no longer because I believe my dad, who told me I’m no good at anything mechanical. Now I understand better. I’m good and fast at typesetting, for example, which is a tricky thing I won’t be good and fast at next year if I don’t do it every day. I’m still learning things about body copy, and I’ve been setting it for years. I’ve barely learned anything about drivetrains after a few dozen sincere but sporadic stabs at adjustment.
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PEOPLE APPARENTLY HAVE the capacity for being uplifted and burgeoned by a gorgeous sunset over a mountain pass. I look at the sunset dutifully and sometimes try to get my burgeon on, but I’m disappointed in myself. I don’t have that. I just have knowing it’s where I should be, and putting a check in that box: Where I should be. The check feels like approval. A good review I don’t need you for.
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MY ROAD BIKE has a broken spoke so the brake rubs, even with its release lever open, and my folding bike is still in the suitcase that took it to Los Angeles and back, because it needs a new derailleur hanger before I should bother putting it back together, but I wrote today.
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LEARNING HOW RANDONNEURS relate to each other has given me perspective on life off the bike. There’s a hierarchy that you can ignore without anyone thinking less of you, but if you try to insert yourself into it and you figure your level wrong, then you live with that. Acting like you’re still something you used to be is poison unless they know about the injury. If they don’t, you’re an awkward problem. That one’s lost. Don’t try to chase it into a win. Shut your mouth, heal up, ride a lot. Let them come back to you, if they’re coming, which they may never do. Oh well. Just put your check marks in your boxes.
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I FINISHED HALF of today’s work list, delivered a couple of proofs, and just thought I’d enjoy mentioning those things before the second half of the climb. Have a good ride. Check.

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Filed under Bicycling, Design and production, ebook production, Employment, Favorite, InDesign, Randonneuring, Senseless Acts

Two things I designed recently, and the kind of clients I’m looking for

I also posted this at the TYPEFLOW blog.

Books come from authors. Directories come from databases. Both have their quirks. Databases drink less.

I wasn’t sure whether talking about directories here would make me seem less like a book person, but the truth is, I love both. For either, my job comes down to transformation: A novel is transformed from an ugly, unhelpful Word file into something like fine art; a directory is blobs of raw data refined into attractive, functional listings.

Typeflow does both. Here are some examples:

(Click to see a bigger version that you can zoom in on.)

Directory and book interiors
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Filed under Books, Design and production, ebook production, InDesign, Self-promotion

The traditional Rosh Hashanah blog

A couple of times a year, any uncertainty about what is a Jew dissipates, and I become a true member of a singular tribe, the American Jews of the diaspora, when I perform, with sincere and profound humility, our only major tradition: Googling to see when the holiday begins, what we’re supposed to already have started cooking, and what the greeting is.

1. Tonight; 2. brisket and sweet stuff; 3. L’Shana tovah.

The brisket is in; the jumble of blocky tzimmes precursor is heating around it. The boys have been guided by paternal threat and prattle through the evening pouring of the cheap red wine over meat, the morning grocery shopping with their own carts, the splendor of beef turned purple by grapes so it looks like a giant tongue, with sound effects, and onion-chopping best practices with The Good Knife. They will be recalled from the Wii for kugel insertion and the basting ceremony. I don’t know that basting is necessary when observing loose tinfoil protocol, but also can’t see a down side to it. Teach your male children to baste.

Tonight’s challah is round instead of braided because so is the cycle of creation; this is, after all, a new year’s celebration. It’s sweetened because so may your year be sweet.

This has always bothered me as a metaphor, ever since I was a child, because it’s just too facile to be recognizable. Years aren’t sweet or bitter; life is sweet and bitter. Even horrible years have the stray golden raisin in there, and good years harbor the roots of bad ones to come—much as savory tzimmes contains root vegetables (see, it’s genetic; that took no effort).

What I wish for you, and for myself, is that what has taken root in the past, no matter what kind of manure or burnt field it first sprouted in, bears good fruit in the future. I also wish you an easing of droughts and destructions, so that orchards can once again be maintained by one standard orchard’s worth of toil.

May your troubles convert to gelatin in the heat of your efforts, as melts brisket collagen at temperatures over 180°F.

May you question and break free of the traps of your childhood, just as we all, at some point, ask, “Why am I drinking Manischewitz?” And may you pass your mistakes on to the next generation, just as in the same breath, we pour Manischewitz for our own children, so that they in turn may taste the fuller flavor of rejecting the overly sweet nonsense of their parents.

L’shana tovah. May you be signed in the…sealed in…crap, I don’t know. I googled it twice already. Here:

Eat up.

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Fatherhood, Favorite, God, Heresy, Kids, Music, Parenting, Religion, Senseless Acts, Whatever

The yellow bike is sold

“This is my yellow bike,” he said, in a tone I didn’t notice at the time. I didn’t notice his face, either. I was walking ahead, holding the camera facing back at the end of a nonchalant arm. It was the day I gave him the bike. He was four. Nothing in his entire life had ever been remotely like this day. He didn’t know it was a universe where a boy could have his own bike.

I heard the tone and saw the face that night, offloading the pictures and video onto my computer. I could have missed them. I didn’t watch everything as it transferred. Instead, I learned my heart had another little door in it that could open. I learned also that his was so full that a bike could brim it over.

His fraternal twin brother liked to clean his blue bike. Liked the inclinometer I installed on it. Still wants a computer. The boy with the yellow bike just liked riding it. The day the training wheels came off, I saw him do my running dismount. Until they did, he liked to sit on the stopped bike like a cowboy on a fence during a work break and eat a sandwich. He kept growing. I got a longer seatpost for it instead of a bigger bike. He got heavier and learned how to skid. There’s about 20′ of black rubber on a sidewalk on Seaman Ave. His personal best.

Today I asked him how he felt that somebody was coming to buy it. He said he felt good, because another family would be happy because of that bike. He has a 20″ red one now.

I watched it carried to the elevator as I closed the door. The back tire is new. I didn’t tell the dad that’s because of all the skids. Let his kid write some new stories with it.

Bye, yellow bike.

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Filed under Bicycling, Bikes, Family, Fatherhood, Favorite, Inwood, Kids, Parenting

Two bikes for sale

I’m happy to sell the white one, the first I’ve put together so I could understand bikes better. (It’s been thoroughly checked out by the bike shop.) Selling it to make room for the next assembly.

I’m sad to sell the little yellow one, which taught me how deep a four-year-old’s pride of ownership could be. He rode it until he was seven.

UPDATE: The little yellow bike is sold.

Both prices firm. I’m no good at haggling, so I don’t.

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Filed under Bicycling, BikeNYC, Bikes

Night Ride

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AT THE TOP OF THE RISE he waits for the signal from the bottom, and when he hears GO! he lets off the brake and pushes the pedals. It’s not a big chainwheel he’s got, so his feet are spinning at top speed in about three seconds—but by then he’s already flying.

Last weekend he flashed past the dip at the bottom and got twenty feet up the other side before he had to stand out of the saddle. You had to stand when you climbed because it gave your legs more power.

This time he’s going to hit the uphill with great strength, pump right up it, even the steep part, and then take the curve at the top without stopping, all the way behind the trees where no one can see him.

GO GO GO GO the words whip past his ear and make him grin, sun and shadows strobing in his eyes, and then he’s ten feet up the shallow grade, twenty, thirty, the bike slowing so soon on the steep part and he’s up out of the saddle, fists clamped around the rubberized grips, King of the Mountains, polka-dot jersey. He chants:

I-must-con-cen-trate.

I-must-con-cen-trate.

I-must-con-cen-trate.

GO GO GO GO! behind him. YOU CAN DO IT YOU CAN DO IT CLIMB LITTLE MAN CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB!

Bobby is six.

His daddy’s cheering for him. He climbs, climbs, climbs, conquers the little part where it’s steepest and you have to push your legs hard instead of just riding your bike, and then he’s out of sight where Daddy can’t see him, which is a great joke.

Walking up the paved pathway toward him is an old man.

“Hey, Bobby,” the old man says. “Remember me?”

Bobby’s still looking at him when he hears his daddy’s bike come rolling up behind him.

“Dad,” his daddy says.

“Bob-by!” says his grandpa to his daddy.

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Filed under Bicycling, BikeNYC, Bikes, Family, Fatherhood, Favorite, Fiction, Inwood, Kids, My writing, Parenting, Senseless Acts, Short stories