Statements and Propositions

Titles vanish without trace...

Many translated non-fiction titles vanish without trace: the translator and publisher should together think up new ways of reaching the reader.

The unique experience

In choosing which non-fiction to translate, the focus must be on the unique experience of the different cultures. The strength of Dutch non-fiction lies in such subjects as political and democratic traditions, and environmental policy.

Small vs Big

With the accession to the European Union of ten new countries, the EU now contains more ‘small’ countries than ‘big’. The Netherlands, being small, has more in common with these other small countries and can perhaps learn more from them than from our ‘big brothers’.

Pest and blessing

The internet as both pest and blessing: the large amount of information that you need as non-fiction translator is (alas) always available.

A burdon on translators

Globalisation has placed more of a burden on non-fiction translators who are now expected to have a knowledge of an increasing number of countries, societies and developments. How do you convey so many cultures in a responsible way?

The translator as adviser

Foreign non-fiction titles are ever more unlikely to be translated: for this reason, publishing houses should make much more use of non-fiction translators as advisers.

A new alliance?

Any new ideas to improve the lot of translations should come from an alliance of publishers, translators and authors.

Global imbalance

Many languages are hopelessly under or non-funded leaving a global imbalance.

A lack of subsidies and good translators

The globalisation of translations is restrained due to a lack of subsidies and good translators.

French non-fiction is flourishing

Although the same phenomena of concentration in publishing exist to a no lesser extent in France than in other European countries (not to mention the USA), French non-fiction publishing has never been so flourishing as today. This seemingly paradoxical situation is explained by the fact that the book market in France is very much a regulated market. How does this French exception work?

Not contributing

European intellectuals and publishers (with the partial exception of the British) are not contributing as much as they might to this flowering of argument over the future direction of the world’s economy and society.

American intellectuals leading the debate

The paradox is that it is American intellectuals, who have the smallest influence on the outcome of their democratic process, who are leading the debate and dominating international discussion.


The combination of a world market in publishing with an aggressively ideological government in the USA has produced a counter-reaction: the development of a new kind of international public intellectual and the rekindling of a dormant interest in democratic politics among the reading public. Even the most rigidly run conglomerates have been forced to respond to this trend.

How Dutch society lost its innocence

On 6 May 2002 the Netherlands ‘lost their political innocence’, as many commentators chose to put it. The murder of the right-wing populist politician Pim Fortuyn, who himself matched a quintessential Dutchness to a set of flamboyantly ‘un-Dutch’ characteristics, has since become an inevitable focus for a wide-ranging debate about Dutch national identity, issues of immigration and integration, and the supposed ‘islamisation’ of our culture. In the talk, I shall argue that Fortuyn’s peculiar libertarian and democratic version of populist nationalism interestingly varies and deepens our view about the nature of West-European populism, which can perhaps be most accurately described as a ‘third way of the right’.

The only chance

At a time of globalisation with big international groups, the only chance for independent publishing houses to survive is to have a clear profile with interesting and controversial books of high quality.

The competence of a publishing house

Readers are not interested in the name of the publishing house. But for booksellers and journalists, the most important transmission-channels in bringing books to the readers, the profile and competence of a publishing house is an important factor.

Book or internet?

A text does not necessarily have to be published as a book: being available on the internet can be good enough.

A big opportunity

Small publishers in the US have a big opportunity to assert a real identity. Or do you have to be an optimist to see it that way?

Controversial views made less dangerous

Globalization means that controversial views are more widely disseminated or repressed. Or, more insidiously, they are packaged or appropriated in a way that makes them less dangerous. Or not?

The one-sided polemical punch

Controversy and polemical bite are major selling points for books in the US. The unfortunate consequence is that books that argue with nuance, balance and fair play are considered not commercial and are often not publicized in the way books with a one-sided polemical punch are.

independent, personal publishers

The War on Globalisation, that has sprung up everywhere, will present great opportunities to independent, personal publishers.

The loser in the rat race

Many of the books that appear at present in Europe and the US, show poignantly the many concessions that are now made to the supposed demands of the market: there are quite a few authors who, encouraged by their editors, desperately try to adapt their works to the wishes of some abstract anonymous popular readership, in order not to become the loser in the rat race for the market place.

Journalism on a shoestring

There is hope for the ‘typical Dutch’ non-fiction book, typical, that is, of small countries, i.e.: journalism on a shoestring and from the rear lines.

Where do I find the time to write the next book?

Contacts with international agents, my Penguin publisher, editors, accountants, publicity: where do I find the time to write the next book?

The alternatives

Big publishers publish too many titles to find time for any others but their favourite authors. I, as one of the others, had to find alternatives myself.

Landing in the international book market

How I landed in the international book market, and never ceased to marvel, at myself and at the world of publishing.

Who's on the side of the author?

The agent is the one person on the author’s side. The publisher? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Agents can help authors

By knowing the likes and dislikes of individual editors around the world, as well as different competing titles in different countries, agents can help authors to write the kind of proposals that editors will want to buy.

Advantages and disadvantages of globalisation

The globalisation of publishing has disadvantages which, when examined more closely, have brought advantages with them:
1a). Publishers may have become increasingly dependent on bestsellers and literary agents, but this very dependence has made them more alert in looking for alternatives.
1b). The competition is enormous, but this does also mean that a publisher cannot afford to become complacent and rest on his laurels.
1c). Constant changes in the market bring with them new opportunities for quality.

Who needs an agent?

In my former role as a publisher, I spent much of my time convincing authors that they didn’t need an agent. Now as an agent, I know that the real question is not ‘Why would anyone want an agent?’ but ‘How can an author expect to reach a broad audience without one?’.