Publishers as Authors?

I’m encountering a non-trivial number of works that are translated by publishers; maybe in-house translators, maybe contracted out. No credited translator, for sure. Standard Ebooks is crediting the publisher. I’m noting translation by publisher in annotations so far.

I see a couple of options:

1. Allow a translation relationship between work and publisher, and to that end I opened this ticket in JIRA: BB-701.

2. In such cases, create these publishers as authors and credit them for the translation. They are a group, producing content, not just printing it.


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Could you provide an example, please?
In older books the translator often is uncredited but sometimes they are mentioned in later editions.
I’m adding the first sentence of uncredited translations to allow to identify the translator later…


P.S. I definitely don’t want to credit a publisher by default; I would do as you do @indy133, noting that the translator is unattributed.

For example 1: from “Bibliography: #95 (A Jules Verne Centenary)

The Moon Voyage [From the Earth to the Moon and Round the Moon] (1877, London: Ward, Lock and Co., trans.?)

○ During the Federal War in the United States, a new and influential club was established in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. It is well known with what energy the military instinct was developed amongst that nation of shipowners, shopkeepers, and mechanics.

So it’s an unknown translator from ca. 1877

I’m quite sute that the other cases are similar to this.

We need a method to distinguish works from different “unknown translators”.

Maybe the correct term here might be “Translated for” [company].

If we link the publisher (i.e. the company who commissioned the translation) and specify the first sentence, this might be enough to distinguish the translations…


I like that approach a lot. I’ll change the JIRA ticket to that terminology. Thanks.


Personally think this is not needed. No books are translated by companies, they are all translated by people. If a book has no author mentioned, you don’t say the book was written by (or for) the publisher. It’s possible the publisher commissioned the translation, but we can’t assume that’s what happened just because they published it.

This “translated by company” business seems to me Standard Ebooks practice, but they just take their text from Project Gutenberg, and in all of those examples nowhere in the text said to be translated by the company.

When the author isn’t mentioned, you should:

  1. Do some research — often the translator is known, even if his/her name doesn’t appear on original publication. (I did this for the Tagore book you gave as an example. Both the Hathi Trust and say the translator is Surendranath Tagore, an author and translator known for his translations of Tagore. I didn’t look further, but this probably accurate.
  2. If you can’t find out who the translator is, you can just note that fact on the annotation and use the year and publisher in the annotation (E.g. “Macmillian 1917 translation”) until more information is known about this translation.

Translators deserve recognition for their work, let’s not support their erasure from literary history by crediting companies with the work translators did.

Note about Standard Ebooks: their books should have a “based on relationship” to the Project Gutenberg edition they are based on — if they are based on PG. (And the PG edition to the print edition they are based on — if they are based on a print edition.)

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Couldn’t resist doing a bit of research about the Verne translations. It seems someone already did most of this work: Jules Verne Translations - ISFDB .

Here’s an explicit example of “translated for” right in the text:

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Well, I for one would like to be able to store every credit as close as possible to how they are given on paper (or a file). When there are mistakes (or misprints etc) - these can be explained in annotations.

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To be clear, I’m not opposed to a “translated for” relationship if the text actually says the work was “translated for” or “commissioned by” a certain publisher. I’m just saying that it shouldn’t replace the translator’s attribution. In the Standard Ebooks examples you gave, they write “translated for publisher” when they don’t know who translated the work — that’s what I was saying is wrong. It allows them to have a translation credit without knowing who the translator is, or doing the most basic research. Worse, it can be wrong. Generally the text of Standard Ebooks releases comes from Project Guttenberg, and the overwhelming majority of books on PG have been produced by Distributed Proofreaders from page scans. The page scans aren’t necessarily from the first edition, so the translation may have actually been published before in a different publisher or imprint. Nothing I’ve seen leads me to believe SE are doing any research to establish if the translation was commissioned by, or even just published for the first time by this publisher.

Note also that The Russian Review isn’t a publisher, “Translated for The Russian Review” means that the translation was commissioned to appear on this journal, it hasn’t been published before.

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Heh, yeah, that muddies the waters even more—the publisher is Wiley. So, it would be translated for an edition or edition group? :exploding_head:

I don’t think there is much we can do with that info except leave it as an annotation on the translation work… We don’t really have an appropriate entity for periodicals, and I would caution against going into it until having books mostly handled.

[This is veering off-topic, but I noticed some people adding magazine issues as editions and the magazine itself an edition group, but that’s not really what these entities are for. Editions aren’t supposed to have completely different content.]

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