Archive for January 8th, 2013

German version of Panamerican Peaks now available

Today Apple published my German version of the Panamerican Peaks eBook in the iBookstore here. The book has the same title in German.

Die deutsche Buch-Version ist jetzt im Apple Buchladen erhältlich.

Die deutsche Buch-Version ist jetzt im Apple Buchladen erhältlich.

It took about 5-6 weeks of intense work to get this book translated. Here is a screenshot with some statistics right out of the (free) iBooks Author tool I used to create the eBook on my MacBook.


Structure and media content (~300 photos, 12 videos) remain the same as in the original English version. I changed the voice-over in the 2 min introduction video, but otherwise the videos are the same as before (and as on YouTube).

I realized that a good translation requires time and effort. You can’t just translate word for word, but you need to find proper expressions conveying the same story as used by a native speaker. Units need to be adjusted, such as °C into °F, $ into €, ft into m, or miles into km. Dates and numbers are written slightly differently etc.

On average, I managed to translate only about 2 pages per hour. The good news is that in the process of doing so I also optimized the original. Whenever I noticed typos, redundant or missing aspects of a story I also changed the original.

Page flow, hyphenation, page and column breaks, initial table contents, landscape vs. portrait orientation – all needed to be tested and fine-tuned. At the end I also created a free Sample version of the German book, which now includes the entire Preface. This 67 page free sample book is also available in PDF format on the Book page of the website here.

iBooks Author turned out to be a very capable and useful tool for this task. I had both the English and German version in two windows open side-by-side on my large 27″ monitor. I had only minor issues with it. German hyphenation rules are a bit tricky and don’t seem to be supported 100%. I didn’t have some special characters on the US-English Mac keyboard (such as ä, ö, ü, or ß), so it was tedious to insert them.

The Find & Replace command is not quite as powerful as that in Word. For example, to replace numbers (say 15,000 into 15000), it would have been great to have had a pattern matching mechanism with wildcards etc.


My biggest complaint is that I don’t seem to be able to change the built-in layout descriptors (section, chapter, map, gallery, video) to German. They are automatically created and hence manual changes in the text are overwritten by the tool. There is also a bug which mangles the Section titles in Portrait orientation.

But all told, I am quite happy to have finished this translation project. It gave me new appreciation for the amount of work involved. I hope, (some of) the 100 million German speaking folks in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland will enjoy the book.

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