International Publishing #1—Overview
How do you say "Left Behind" in Finnish? Or "Tribulation Force" in Chinese, or Indonesian, or Portuguese?
One of the exciting developments of the growing popularity of the Left Behind series is its spread around the world. 1-million copies of books and tapes in the adult series have now been sold in 12 languages, with another 16 languages either newly released or in preparation. Not surprisingly, the greatest number has been in Spanish, with every title represented in the more than quarter-million sold. After Spanish, you'd expect something like German or French to be next. Actually, it's Chinese, and that's only for the first few books in the series!
Besides Spanish, the entire series has also been printed in South Africa, in both Afrikaans and their own version of English. What other language covers the entire series? Hungarian. German is close behind, with Desecration in process. Seven of the books are available in Dutch, with The Mark in process. Then comes Finnish, with five books done and the rest of the series in process. Four books have been released in Portuguese, with four more in process. Other languages already having some of the series include Chinese, French, Indonesian, and Lithuanian.
Languages with newly released translations include Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, and Russian. In the process of translation and publication are Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, and Ukrainian.
The Kids series is also appearing in a number of languages. Sales of more than 100,000 were reported in Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Dutch, South African English, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. In various stages of preparation are versions in Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Norwegian, and Swedish.
A number of languages represent former republics of the Soviet Union. Among those where Left Behind is already or will be published are Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, and the Ukraine.
Other languages represent countries in Europe, where less than 5% of the population typically claim to be Christ-followers (not just "Christians"). We often think of the Middle East as the center of the Muslim faith, but Indonesia is the largest Muslim area in the world today. The numbers sold there are tiny, so far, but the door is open. Other language groups include countries in Southeast Asia and the Far East, where the Christian faith has been allowed but the work of evangelism has been extremely difficult.
In many languages, the sales figures have to be taken on faith, since the translation and publication are not done directly by Tyndale. How books are published varies from country to country. Understanding the unique regulations and cultural situation in each country, forming necessary trade partnerships, and developing relationships with believers are all important ingredients. In many cases, a publisher inside the country (usually spurred by a believer on staff or connected in some way) will initiate the process. Tyndale provides guidelines and marketing material, with the translation, publication, and sales handled by the foreign publisher.
In some languages, publication is difficult and dangerous. Believers may actually put themselves at risk by becoming involved. So, praise God that Left Behind, along with other Christian publications, audio and video tapes, radio and television broadcasts, and internet sites are getting into the languages of people who need to hear the gospel. And pray for those whose efforts make it possible, especially when they put their faithand their liveson the line to do it.
Numbers are impressive, but there are very interesting stories about getting Left Behind into some of these languages, stories that reveal God at work. We hope to share them with you over the coming months.