E-readers and Localization

February 18, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Posted in Globalization | Leave a comment

I just talked to a reporter from eContent about content globalization and localization.  After the usual questions about the challenges of localization and how technology can help, she asked an open ended question about whether I see anything on the horizon that would change the need for localization.

eContent is a magazine that is read by the publishing industry, so that got me thinking that the big technology trend in publishing is e-readers: iPads, Kindles, and the like.  I hypothesized that the increase in e-readers might increase localization needs. 

When calculating which locales a book or magazine is translated into (note: not just languages, but locales like Spain Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish) there are always a few just below the line that weren’t worth the cost of translation.  But when distribution costs to countries far from the parent’s home base are eliminated, I’m betting a few of those now float above the line and are profitable to localize into.

The challenge is that this depends on how many people have e-readers in these “below the line” countries as well.  Probably not many at the moment.  But as they become cheaper and more prevalent that could change. 

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