A guide on how publishers can provide multilingual content using translation services

The global publishing industry is growing. IBIS World reports that the global book publishing industry was worth $119 billion in 2019, but that the number of businesses had declined, to 16,395. It’s an interesting set of figures. Clearly, those companies that get it right have plenty to gain, with fewer competitors and more potential revenue. The issue of content marketing strategies is clearly an important one. Those publishing companies that didn’t get their strategy correct paid the price for it. Either going out of business or being taken over by larger organisations. With a greater emphasis on companies needing to get their strategy right, providing multilingual content through top quality translation services is a matter that comes to the fore.

Who needs translation services?

Using professional translation services to publish content in multiple languages is an interesting opportunity. Publishing houses can use translation services in order to reach larger audiences and thus make more money. However, the potential for wastage increases with each new market served.

One way to counter this is to provide print on demand (POD) services. Who needs translation services? Companies providing POD. Technavio highlights POD as a major trend for publishing companies over the 2018-22 period, with the ability to print limited copies (and thus prevent wastage while also lowering costs for authors) being a key draw. Based on this and other key trends, Technavio projects that the global publishing market will grow at a CAGR of over 1% during the stated period.

With the best professional translation services positioning publishers well for increasing their income while also lowering costs, many are tapping into the potential of the digital publishing market. Cost is a key driver, with even the desktop publishing definition from Oxford mentioning that it, “enables reports, advertising matter, etc., to be produced cheaply with a layout and print quality similar to that of typeset books.”

The digital publishing industry that will register a CAGR of 10.19% in the period to 2023, according to the Digital Publishing Industry 2019 Global Market Research report, with a market value of $90.82 by the end of the forecast period. The stakes are high, so companies that excel at producing multilingual publications in a cost-effective manner have much to gain.

Why is desktop publishing important?

Desktop publishing is important to a wide range of industries as it can help businesses to engage with customers, get their messages across in the way they wish and increase sales. What is desktop publishing? It is the design of pages for consumption in print and over the internet. What is desktop publishing used for? Books, brochures, infographics, presentations, flyers, adverts… the list of items is extensive.

The marketing industry relies heavily on desktop publishing, but it is far from the only sector to do so. The business world as a whole uses desktop publishing software and specialists every day. From the IT sector to the entertainment industry, desktop publishing is a core component of success.

Desktop publishing and multilingual content

When it comes to producing multilingual content that looks good, reads well and engages local audiences, the translation, localization and desktop publishing industries must all come together in order that the final product works. It’s not just a case of taking a document and being able to translate from English to Spanish or Spanish to English. The document needs to be adapted to the specific audience in question, using the process of localization.

An example. The American Dairy Association ran a very successful ‘Got milk?’ campaign in the US. They decided to roll it out to Mexico. Sadly, the translated material came across as ‘Are you lactating?’ It’s an old example but it serves to emphasise why localization is just as important as translation when it comes to delivering multilingual content!

Publishers also need to focus keenly on the imagery that they use for audiences in different countries. From pictures to colours and symbols, things can have vastly different connotations around the globe.

Then there’s the need to think about language size. It takes around 1,097 words of Spanish to deliver the same message as 1,000 words of English. Desktop publishers need to bear this in mind, leaving more space for English copy and less for Spanish. This difference can be even more pronounced between other languages.

Publishers also need to consider carefully what kind of professional translation services they need. Do they need a marketing translator? Certified translation services? Literary translation? A technical translator? With so many translation services available, it’s important to ensure the right specialisation in order to obtain the best quality translation.

Thankfully for publishers, many translation services not only offer a wide range of specialisms and language pairings but also localization and desktop publishing services. It means that publishers can access a ‘one-stop-shop’ that meets all of their multilingual content needs.


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