Over the past several years, the translation and publication of Vietnamese books abroad have received greater attention and shown positive signs. Translator Nguyen Le Chi, Director of Chibooks Company, granted an interview with Thoi Nay (Present Times) Publication of Nhan Dan (People) Newspaper to talk about this issue.
Q: In July 2021, Chibooks cooperated with a number of publishers to launch the “Vietnamese Culture Bookcase”. You cherished the idea and directly implemented the project. So, what do you expect from the bookcase?
A: With the aspirations of helping both domestic and foreign readers learn more about the land, people, culture and cuisine of each region in Vietnam, Chibooks came up with the idea of building a bookcase. We hope that with editions in other languages, foreign readers will love and respect the people, culture and the land of Vietnam.
Q: Why was the bookcase about culture, but not other fields?
A: We have been thinking quite a bit about this because it is very important. I decided to choose books imbued with the local cultural identities and highlight the valuable, interesting and diverse features within the culture, lifestyle, cuisine and personal characteristics of people in each region. The writing style needs to be modern, close, and persuasive. The languages are suitable for young readers.
In addition to printing Vietnamese editions, we are translating them into Chinese and English to sell copyrights internationally. We wish to develop the bookcase with more and more laudable and attractive books for readers.
Q: The enthusiasm in promoting Vietnam to international friends is very clear. Could you share more about this idea?
A: In fact, Vietnamese publishers have long been busy buying foreign book copyrights as well as publishing and distributing books domestically, to serve Vietnamese readers; therefore, they have missed out on international readers. Many international readers from other countries also want to read Vietnamese books written by Vietnamese authors. They believe that with the eyes of insiders who are living in Vietnam, the writings about today’s life, culture and society of the country, will be very different from the perspective of foreign authors or Vietnamese living abroad. Therefore, it is essential to provide foreign readers with many opportunities to learn more deeply about Vietnamese culture and people.
Q: You have participated in many international book fairs. Could you share about your feelings and assessments about the current position of Vietnamese books in the world market?
A: Over the past five years, the Department of Publishing, Printing and Issuing along with Vietnamese publishers, have made efforts to introduce Vietnamese books to the world with book exhibitions at many international book fairs including Frankfurt, Cuba and Beijing, as well as various forums, seminars and talks about publishing. Thanks to that, the position of the Vietnamese publishing world in the region has changed positively, receiving more attention and respect from international friends.
It cannot be denied that Vietnamese books were designed and printed more aesthetically and beautifully, in accordance with international standards. They were highly valued by many international friends in the publishing sector. Therefore, if Vietnamese books with outstanding contents and beautiful designs have the chance to be introduced abroad, the Vietnamese publishing world can affirm their talents and positions in the international arena.
On December 15, 2021, a ceremony was held to transfer the rotating chairmanship of the ASEAN Book Publishers Association (ABPA) during the 2022-2023 tenure, to the Vietnam Publishing Association. The event was considered an opportunity for Vietnamese publishers to "swim to the big sea".
Q: Several individuals, organisations and publishing units are paying great attention to international integration of Vietnamese books. What is your overall assessment of this activity?
A: This was a good sign that Vietnamese publishing companies have been more responsible for this issue. However, due to the lack of widespread connections, current activities are often spontaneous and small and not yet highly effective.
The activities to bring Vietnamese books to the world should be organised in a methodical and professional manner, as well as the need for support in finance and conditions from the State. It is necessary to clearly distinguish the following types: bringing Vietnamese books to foreign countries for exhibitions and exchanges while promoting books abroad for copyright sale and exports. With different forms, we need to come up with different appropriate implementation policies, while gathering specific book units in need of joint activities to bring Vietnamese books to the world. Books are a symbol of knowledge and cultural capital of a nation, so if the organisations are not methodical and have not left a deep national imprint, it is sometimes counterproductive leaving a negative impression on international guests.
Thank you very much!