16 Mar S2 E9: The Infamous “Three Percent”: Chad Post Discusses Translations in the US
S2 E9: The Infamous “Three Percent” of Translations in the US. An Interview with Chad W. Post
By Marleen Seegers, Co-Founder of 2 Seas Agency and Host of The Make Books Travel Podcast
March 16, 2021
Welcome to season 2, episode 9!
Joining me today is Chad W. Post, publisher of Open Letter Books at the University of Rochester in upstate New York, which is dedicated to publishing contemporary literature from around the world.
Over the course of the years, Chad and I have been on several panels together to discuss the state of literary translations in the US, which always led to lively and insightful conversations.
So I thought it was high time to invite him on the podcast, which I’m glad he agreed to.
Here are some of the questions I asked Chad:
- How did your interest in all things translation start out?
- Are you a translator yourself, or did you spend some time abroad?
- When, and why, did you found Open Letter Books?
- How has business evolved since you started out?
- Can you tell us some more about the Three Percent Blog and the Translation Database? Which project came first?
- Were you the one who coined the concept of “3%” that refers to the percentage of translations in the US, when starting the Three Percent Blog?
- Has this percentage evolved since 2008?
- Can you give us your views on why translations continue to have such a hard time piercing the US market?
- What can be done to improve the situation, not only by US publishers but also by international rights sellers?
- Do you think that the recent popularity of international shows on streaming platforms in the US will spill over into the book world?
Chad’s book recommendations:
– My Husband by Rumena Bužarovska, translated from the Macedonian by Paul Filev
– Echo on the Bay by Masatsugu Ono, translated from the Japanese by Angus Turvill
Chad W. Post is the publisher of Open Letter Books at the University of Rochester, where he oversees the Three Percent website, the Translation Database, and the Best Translated Book Awards. In addition to many articles and reviews, he is the author of The Three Percent Problem and the editorial consultant for Dalkey Archive Press.