"Three Percent" by the University of Rochester


Have you ever heard the expression "Three Percent in Translation?" It refers to the estimated number of books published in the United States that are actually translations from a foreign language. This issue has been called to everybody's attention by the University of Rochester on a blog called "Three Percent."

The website keeps a yearly database with details on titles published in the U.S. and posts reviews on translated books in order to get the word out. It also features news about the literary translation world, including contests, awards, bookstores, literary communities, and publishing trends, among other interesting articles.

Here's how they explain their purpose in their own words:

Three Percent was named after the oft-cited statistic (first established by Bowker) that only 3% of books published in the U.S. are translations. We suspected that 3% number was a little high, but we had no way of confirming our suspicions―there were no real records of the number of translations published from year to year.

Additionally, Three Percent sponsors the Best Translated Book Awards to highlight international works published in the U.S. every year, whose cash prize of $5,000 USD is granted to both authors and translators. They also compile the contents of Open Letter, which is an online subscription service made available in partnership with Open Letter Books, run a successful free podcast available through iTunes, and published a very interesting book called "The Three Percent Problem: Rants and Responses on Publishing, Translation, and the Future of Reading."

With all this good content available, nobody should have any excuse not to be up to date with foreign authors in translation and expand their horizons to the literary world out there.