Pirating Dan Brown

Chinese website wants to crowdsource a Lost Symbol translation

Yeeyan, a Chinese collaborative translation website, has posted the prologue and first two chapters of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol online, in a bid to galvanize readers into producing a Chinese-language version before the novel’s official 2010 release by the People’s Literature Publishing House. This is not the first example of a Chinese appetite for blockbuster media resulting in crowdsourcing—fans regularly craft subtitles for popular Western TV shows, and have previously banded together to quickly translate Harry Potter books. (Nor have Potter enthusiasts stopped there: until author J.K. Rowling and her legal wizards stepped in, Chinese publishers dished up the likes of Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-to-Dragon—in which Harry encountered sweet and sour rain, became a hairy troll, and joined Gandalf to re-enact scenes from The Hobbit—credited it to J.K. Rowling, and sold it like butterbeer on a hot day.) But the pirated translations, a headache for Western rights holders—neither Brown nor his publisher Random House stand to make a cent from Yeeyan’s eventual production—are partly the rights-holders’ own fault, according to some observers. According to PSFK, a trends research, innovation, and activation organization, global companies consistently have yet to figure out how to “engage” Chinese consumers. “There is a lucrative opportunity for the next company bringing a global product into China to create an innovative and memorable experience around its product in a way that Random House did not.”


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