US indie pulls out of translation award over Amazon funding

US indie pulls out of translation award over Amazon funding

<p>US independent Melville House Publishing has pulled out of Best Translated Book (BTB) award following news that the prize will now receive funding from Amazon. Dennis Johnson, founder of the publisher, likened taking money from Amazon to &quot;medical researchers who take money from cigarette companies&quot;.</p><p>The $25,000 Amazon grant will support $5,000 cash prizes for both the winning translators and authors. </p><p>On his blog, <a href="http://mhpbooks.com/mobylives/?p=19203" target="_blank" title="http://mhpbooks.com/mobylives/?p=19203">MobyLives</a>, Johnson wrote: &quot;Amazon&rsquo;s interests, and those of a healthy book culture, whether electronic or not, are antithetical. As most of us here at Melville House have also worked at indie bookstores &mdash; including such biggies as Booksoup, Shaman Drum, Brookline Booksmith and others &mdash; we feel this especially keenly: Taking money from Amazon is akin to the medical researchers who take money from cigarette companies.&quot;<br /><br />Johnson said the name of the publisher had been used without permission on the press release announcing the new funding. The release said recent winners for fiction included<em> The Confessions of Noa Weber</em> by Gail Hareven, translated from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu (Melville House).</p><p>Launched by Three Percent in 2007, the Best Translated Book Awards aim to bring attention to the best original works of international fiction and poetry published in the US during the previous year.&nbsp; Chad Post, director of Open Letter Books and Three Percent, said of the grant: &quot;Over the past few years, the awards have grown in stature, and the introduction of a cash prize for the winners will greatly enhance the reputation and reach of the award.&quot;</p><p>But Johnson wrote: &quot;From its inception, we have always thought of the two-year-old award as a good thing for little indies trying to champion good books in a difficult market and culture &mdash; a market and culture made difficult in many ways by the predatory and thuggish practices of Amazon.com . . . As publishers of 20 or more translated books a year &mdash; that&rsquo;s more than Knopf or FSG &mdash; we mean to offer a much more genuine support to translation in America than taking part in a ruse leading to its further denigration.&quot;</p>