Steal This Curiosity

October 30, 2012 | 1

“At first, I didn’t realize that AlexanderIII was translating the book; I thought he was just a fastidious Russian reader with a loose command of the English language. It was fun to see people debating the meanings of my thoroughly worked-over phrases…Then I remembered that no Russian publisher had acquired the rights, and realized that AlexanderIII must be translating it for some kind of book-pirating outfit.” Over at The Atlantic, Peter Mountford recounts the experience of watching book piracy in action.

is an intern for The Millions. She is a writer and recent graduate of Smith College living in Cambridge, MA. She blogs at

One comment:

  1. I’m one of these pirate translators.

    Several years ago I’ve translated two novels. The Angel of Pain by Brian Stableford and The Singer’s Crown by Elaine Isaak.

    Probably because of the bad karma both publishers were ruined. Somebody from the first one downloaded an edited copy of Angel on the pirate web-sites. I don’t know who. Later I got acquainted with Brian and presented him copy of his Empire of Fear in Russian, pirate edition too. That was all I could do.

    What about Singer’s Crown, the translated text is on my hard drive now and I do not know what to do with it. To my regret I didn’t get any answer from Elaine Isaak to my message on Facebook.

    Well… things could be worse. Recently I have read a book by Nora Roberts, Naked in Death. It was dull and I could not understand why is it popular among English-speaking readers. Then I noticed a strange thing in the story – multicharged flint pistol. I’ve downloaded English text to check and discovered that there are no flint pistols in the book at all! Only revolvers. I read further and revealed that the translator has changed… well… everything. He erazed all mentions of the future technologies. When the protagonist reads online-news he writes – newspaper. When there are cyber-dogs, he writes just dogs. Revolvers – flint guns, lasers – just guns, videophone – telephone and so on. At the same time he added more emotions. I could not find the man. It seems that he has no blog or page in the Web. I feel pity for Nora Roberts because Russian readers will think that her In Death books are common harlequin novels.

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