Aussie science writer’s book emasculated by U.S. ‘translators’

Our guest blogger today, Peter Macinnis tells us what happened when his book was re-published in the United States. Imagine if those copies were imported into Australia to replace the authentic Australian ones.

Guest blogger: Peter Macinnis. Prolific Australian science writer; of curious mind and a practising grandfather. Author of Kokoda Track: 101 Days , the Eve Pownall Honour Book, 2008 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards.

These days, I’m a writer (albeit in an educational vein), but the books I write are not generally affected by the present sham campaign by Woolworths and Dymocks to bring in cheap foreign knock-offs of Australian books in the name of “cheaper books”.

In the interests of Australia’s more literary writers, I support the opposition to a scheme that would bring bigger profits to greedy grocers while knocking out independent bookshops and costing novelists and the like dearly.

While I am not generally affected, I have some knowledge of the way things work. I have had one book translated into American: the poor dears are insular, so the American publishers demanded a less subtle title, then asked that I remove case studies involving the Netherlands and Australia, and replace them with US examples.

My reference to “the US Civil War” was changed to “the Civil War”, because there only ever was one of those, wasn’t there?  On and on it went, with Paris “becoming “Paris, France” and all the other gaucheries that the American penchant for dumbing-down favours and demands.

In short, my work was emasculated to an extent that horrified my literate American friends.

If “parallel importing” were allowed, this poor relation could be brought in and sold at lower prices, but it wouldn’t be the same book that Allen and Unwin published here.


More of Peter’s sites:


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