2019.5.1经济学人官方译文:纸书

2019.5.1经济学人官方译文:纸书
2019年05月01日 08:30 伦敦姚洋

Digital literature

Yearning to be touched

An online reading room wants to get into the printing business

数字文学

渴望被触摸

一个在线阅读平台想要进军纸质出版

WHEN WATTPAD opened its online reading room in 2006, its catalogue contained chiefly public-domain tear-jerkers like “Sense and Sensibility”. It also invited budding Jane Austens to post their own oeuvres. Readers, particularly young women, flocked to the site. It now draws 70m monthly active users. Include poems, novellas and serial chapters, and its virtual shelves buckle under 565m texts in over 50 languages. Now it wants to turn some of them into print.

当Wattpad于2006年推出其在线阅读平台时,书目里主要是《理智与情感》这样的煽情公版著作。平台还邀请那些初出茅庐的简·奥斯汀们发布自己的作品。读者蜂拥而至,尤其是年轻女性。现在它每月有7000万活跃用户。包括诗歌、中篇小说和连载作品在内,它的虚拟书架上堆放着以50多种语言写成的5.65亿部作品。现在,它想把其中一些变成纸质书。

Online book-reading spaces are proliferating. They include Tor (for science fiction and fantasy), Tapas (comics) and Radish (serialised novels). Wattpad has cornered romance—with an estimated $1bn in annual book sales in America alone not counting self-published ones, as much as sci-fi and crime combined, a popular genre. Along the way, says Porter Anderson, editor ofPublishing Perspectives, an online trade journal, it has also tried to solve an age-old problem in the publishing business: how to foretell hits.

在线阅读平台正大量涌现,比如Tor(发布科幻和奇幻作品)、Tapas(漫画)和Radish(连载小说)。Wattpad已垄断了广受欢迎的言情小说版块——单在美国,这类书籍的年销售额估计就达十亿美元(不包括自费出版的部分),相当于科幻和犯罪这两类题材的总和。出版业网络期刊《出版视角》(Publishing Perspectives)的主编波特·安德森(Porter Anderson)说,Wattpad在发展的过程中还试图解决出版业的一个古老问题:如何预测畅销作品。

Books are costly to promote and, in print, to distribute. Publishers try to predict which manuscripts will succeed. For every bestseller, they still plug plenty of duds. This is especially true for debut novels by unknown authors. Wattpad’s algorithm skims its uploads, as well as user comments and other data, to work out what appeals to readers. The site lets authors and fans interact—and writers fine-tune their work to please the audience. High-scoring page-turners get promoted to advertisers (who pay some authors to weave brands into their narrative) and publishers. “After”, a book which was viewed 1.5bn times on the site, was snapped up by Simon New York Timesbestseller list. In 2018 Netflix released “The Kissing Booth”, based on a Wattpad book by an American author who wrote it when she was 15. It is planning a sequel.

书的推广成本以及纸质书的发行成本都很高。出版商想方设法预测哪些书稿会成功。在每本畅销书的背后,他们其实还推出了大量失败之作。不出名作者的处女作小说尤其如此。Wattpad的算法浏览上传的作品、用户评论和其他数据,分析吸引读者的元素。平台让作者和粉丝互动,作者可以调整作品来取悦读者。吸引人的高分作品会被推荐给广告主(他们会向一些作者付费,让其在作品内植入品牌广告)和出版商。浏览量达15亿次的作品《之后》(After)被西蒙与舒斯特出版公司(Simon&Schuster)抢下版权,最终打入《纽约时报》畅销书排行榜。2018年,Netflix推出了爱情喜剧《亲吻亭》(The Kissing Booth),改编自一位美国作者在15岁时写就并发布在Wattpad上的一部作品。Netflix正在策划制作续集。

Wattpad, which makes most texts available free of charge, takes a cut of any book or film deal struck, as a literary agent does. It wants to emulate traditional publishers, too. It is toying with paywalls, and in January said it will churn out print runs of its algorithm’s top picks. Nearly three in four Americans aged 18 to 29 say they read a print book in the previous year; only two-thirds of their grandparents did. And a physical book is a “trophy” for readers who helped craft the narrative, says Ashleigh Gardner, Wattpad’s head of publishing.

Wattpad平台上的大部分作品都是免费取阅的,而平台就像文学经纪人那样,从谈成的书或电影版权交易中抽成。Wattpad还想仿效传统出版商。它正在考虑设置付费墙,并在1月份表示将大量付印由算法优选出的作品。18至29岁的美国人中近四分之三表示在过去一年里读过一本纸质书,而在他们的祖父母中这一比例仅为三分之二。Wattpad的出版业务负责人阿什利·加德纳(Ashleigh Gardner)表示,对于参与打造故事的读者来说,一本实体书就是一座“奖杯”。

Last year Wattpad raised $51m from venture capitalists, reportedly valuing it at $400m. Its boss recently insisted revenues were “growing nicely”. The firm will not say if it is spilling red ink. Rapt investors are hoping for a happy ending.

去年,Wattpad获得了5100万美元的风险投资,据说估值达四亿美元。它的老板最近坚称公司收入“增长不俗”。Wattpad不愿透露自己是否在书写赤字,而看得如痴如醉的投资者在期盼一个圆满的结局。

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