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In translation

One of the most gratifying and interesting moments in book-publishing is seeing a book of ours issued by another publisher in a translated edition. It is not just the language that needs to be translated. As part of the publishing agreement, we will supply files for all the pictures: but the treatment of pictures remains in the hands of the other publisher. The size of pages, the paper, the binding, and all the other aspects of a book’s material composition are all open for determination by the translating publisher. All of which can provide a pleasant surprise. Often one may feel that the other publisher has refined or improved aspects of the material; or at least their resolution of the problems provides an illuminating alternative to what we did. This week copies of the Korean edition of Christopher Burke’s Active literature, published by Workroom Press in Seoul, arrived here in London.

Workroom Press had previously (in 2011) issued an edition of Burke’s Paul Renner. The other Korean publisher that has issued editions of our books is Specter Press. Norman Potter’s What is a designer (2008), Robin Kinross’s Modern typography (2009), and this year Marie Neurath and Robin Kinross’s The transformer have been published by Specter in Seoul. Both Specter and Workroom are small outfits directed by practising designers, who publish – successfully – on instinct and out of knowledge of the subject. In the same breath we could mention Éditions B42, which has published French editions of some of the same books. That these publishers should want to take on these books is, we might say, no accident. It certainly gives a good sense of international connection and solidarity.

The principal change in the Korean edition is the separation out of the bulk of the pictures, printed now in colour on coated paper. The main text and some black-and-white pictures are printed in black on cream uncoated paper.