What’s “Muggle” in Spanish?

This post was written by guest blogger Andy Fine.

The Chicago Tribune reports on the difficulties of translating Harry Potter into Spanish, and on the potential of Spanish-language publishing.

While millions have already finished the sixth book in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, fans hoping to read it in other languages will have to wait. Translating a 672-page book is a long process, made longer by the strict security imposed on “Half-Blood Prince” by Rowling and her publishers: Translators didn’t get to see the book until it officially came out, July 16.

. . . .

With the Hispanic population topping 35 million in the United States, the book industry is well aware of the Spanish-language market, by far the biggest non-English market in the country. Random House, Inc., Harper Collins and Simon & Schuster are among the publishers with Spanish-language imprints; the superstore chains Barnes & Noble, Inc., and Borders Group have expanded their Spanish offerings.

“We’ve consistently seen double-digit growth for the last number of years,” says Randi Sonenshein, Border’s category manager for books in Spanish. She said demand was high both for books originally published in Spanish, such as the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and for books in translation, such as “Da Vinci Code” author Dan Brown’s works.

But getting translations into stores is often frustrating — sometimes hurried, sometimes slow. A number of factors can interfere: delays in getting the manuscript to translators; the intricacies of translation, especially for literary fiction; and a reluctance even to commit to a Spanish edition until the English work has proved successful.


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