University of Rochester

Special "Best of Three Percent" E-book to Directly Benefit Translators

September 16, 2011

September 16, 2011—To mark Three Percent's four-year anniversary as a site for literary commentary, essays, and reviews, Open Letter Books is releasing a special "best of Three Percent" e-book, The Three Percent Problem: Rants and Responses on Publishing, Translating, and the Future of Reading. Based at the University of Rochester, Open Letter and Three Percent are dedicated to increasing the diversity of voices available to American readers. To help fulfill this mission, all proceeds from The Three Percent Problem will go toward directly supporting literary translators.

Immediately available on (, (, and soon on Apple's iBookstore, Open Letter and Three Percent are asking readers to show their support by downloading the book now—pushing it up the sites' sales rankings.

"The intent of The Three Percent Problem—and the Three Percent blog as a whole—is to explain a variety of aspects of the contemporary publishing scene in a way that both informative and entertaining. It's sort of like Andre Schiffrin's The Business of Books but with a lot more swearing," said publisher Chad Post.

The e-book collects dozens of articles, ranging from pieces that explore the economic and cultural reasons that fewer than 3 percent of books published in America are in translation, to the very different publishing scenes found in other countries, to profiles of contemporary translators, to mini-rants about book marketing, technology, and $.99 e-books.

"It's an entertaining mix of irreverent shorts and longer-form essays that both dissect and explain the state of the publishing industry—which, as it turns out, is a very strange place," said Taylor McCabe, an intern at the University of Rochester's Open Letter Books, who helped compile and edit The Three Percent Problem. "It's never stuffy, and it's a great introduction for anyone interested in the world of publishing, international literature, and even reading itself."

All proceeds from the $2.99 e-book will directly benefit literary translators, helping to pay them for their too-often undervalued work. Open Letter—which publishes 10 books each year—is one of the largest publishers of literary translations in the United States. In addition to publishing these books, Open Letter runs Three Percent and administers the Best Translated Book Award.