Dear readers, There are so many great things happening through this blog and there is hardly enough time to write about it, but such is life! Today you'll have the pleasure of reading Jair of Bab'l Books. I recently had the honor of interviewing him and am very happy to share with you his brilliant project of providing multilingual books for children. I think you're going to love his brilliant idea!
So Jair, please tell me, what exactly does your business model look like? Why multilingual books, what is crowdsourcing and how does it work, specifically for the books that you are promoting?
Let’s start with “Why multilingual books?” because that motivates everything else about our business model. My business partner and I grew up in multilingual households, and learning our second (and third!) languages was incredibly important to us. Recently we have seen our siblings, cousins and friends trying to raise multilingual kids, and struggling to find books and tools to facilitate their kids’ bilingual education. It seemed like many publishers just weren’t interested in serving the multilingual market because they deemed it too niche. We want to change that!
Bab’l partners with authors (and illustrators!) to translate and distribute great children’s stories in multiple languages. This translation support helps creative content producers to reach new markets and stand out in the crowd, while at the same time increasing families’ access to a wider variety of products. Win-win! We have already partnered with authors and illustrators to create an initial library of 10 different children story books. Our initial 10 books have been translated into over 10 languages and are available on Amazon in e-book and print format. Although there are already many bilingual books out there, we felt that parents and families don’t have enough access to high-quality translations or illustrations at an affordable price.
Now for the other part of our model: what is crowdsourcing and why do we use that to translate? Simply put, crowdsourcing is having multiple people offer input on translations. Imagine you and three friends all wishing you had a particular book in your language. Well, hiring a professional to translate from scratch is expensive and can be slow, and the books would be pricey as a result. But if each of you and your friends suggested and voted on translations for a few pages, a professional could edit and quality check the submissions far more cheaply, more quickly, and more accurately. This type of crowdsourcing helps us solve the problem of how slow and difficult it can be to translate new stories. Best of all, when parents and teachers help crowdsource, we can ensure the final product is of the right quality and reading level for children!
How does your website work and how can multilingual families benefit?
Our translation website, www.translate.bablbooks.com, is dedicated to allowing anyone to translate any part of our books. All our books are uploaded page by page on our website to allow people to see the books and translate them using the right context. Families or individuals can then translate as many as 10 books or as little as one sentence of one book. The community can then vote on the best translation for the story, ensuring that it is truly their story. Our home website, www.bablbooks.com, is dedicated to showcasing our books and making them available for purchase.
Multilingual families can benefit from Babl books by having a dedicated publisher of bilingual books. Parents and loved ones can find the books in their language in both print and as e-books without having to search very far.
Tell me just a little bit about your own multilingual, multicultural background and how your educational path led you to this brilliant path you’re on with Babl Books.
I was born in Mexico but grew up in Houston, and have always treasured learning and keeping up my Spanish. I always thought the translations in books were of poor quality and wished there was something I could do.
My business partner, Urvesh was born and raised in Massachusetts to parents from India in a city with a large Vietnamese and Cambodian population. His family struggled to find books in their language, as did many of their neighbors. Urvesh wanted to help other families hold on to their languages by creating products for language groups that most businesses otherwise ignore.
Both of our mothers were actually bilingual elementary school teachers, which helped us to gain a greater appreciation for the hard work required in being bilingual. While at Harvard Business School, we met on a class project that lead us to create Babl Books. Along with other classmates, we began a project to take one book and translate it into 10 languages and see how well it would sell on Amazon. It turned out that the books sold hundreds of copies and it showed us that there was definitely a need for more bilingual books in the market. After graduation we decided to continue with our project and create more books in more languages to get people the quality books they deserve.
What do you think? Isn't this an exciting project? I think it's genius! Go and take a peek at their multilingual books that are currently available in French, Hindi, Tagalog, German, Portuguese, Gujarti, Spanish and Vietnamese and let me know what you think?