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Publishing translated fiction in the UK: a comparative analysis of publishing models and key players

Di Giuseppe, Laura (2024). Publishing translated fiction in the UK: a comparative analysis of publishing models and key players. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis conducts an in-depth analysis of the trajectory of translated fiction publishing in the UK over the last two decades, specifically focusing on the different strategies employed by independent presses and imprints within large conglomerates. Despite the notable growth, a conspicuous dearth persists in the market. Investigating the discrepancy between the translated literature in the UK and the linguistic and ethnic diversity of the nation sheds light on the pivotal role publishers play in shaping literary landscapes, raising critical questions about representation, accessibility, and the cultural breadth offered to readers.

The research unfolds through a multi-faceted exploration of the literature on translation in publishing, adopting a historical context and intertwining concepts such as symbolic capital, gatekeeping, diversity, as well as business and marketing theory. The study challenges a reader-centric perspective and emphasises the need to contextualise the evolution of translated fiction within a global ecosystem which involves a number of factors and actors, from the historical impact of colonialism and neo-colonialism to the role of funding bodies, literary prizes, book fairs and multimedia adaptations.

An original analysis of Nielsen Bookscan sales data spanning the last two decades reveals fluctuations in the percentage of translated titles, the impact of bestsellers, and a linguistic hierarchy prioritising major European languages, alongside the rise of Japanese and Korean. The study identifies barriers to translation, including cost constraints, a shortage of linguistically diverse talent, and a global imbalance in international publishing networks. Opportunities are explored, such as establishing a strategic business unit around translation with clear branding approaches, editorial lines, and direct-to-consumer relationships, including subscription services.

The case studies of HarperVia, a newly established imprint within the HarperCollins group, and Fitzcarraldo Editions explore the dynamics of respectively international conglomerates and independent presses. The analysis of HarperVia reveals challenges in establishing a global imprint in translation, while Fitzcarraldo's case shows how a focused acquisition strategy and bold branding can lead to success in the translated fiction segment.

In conclusion, this thesis aims to provide a nuanced understanding of translated fiction in the UK, challenging conventional perspectives and offering insights into the strategies which make it commercially viable.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
P Language and Literature
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Di Giuseppe thesis 2024.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 30 June 2027 due to copyright restrictions.


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