As an experiment I have used my own heavily-taxed salary and commissioned a translation from Arabic of the Commentary on the Nicene Creed by the 9th century Melchite priest, al-Majdalus, using a commercial translator. This is expensive, but I have read that this is how the Ante-Nicene Fathers translations were made. It will be interesting to see what the quality is like.
Naturally I need to get the money back, if I am to do this again. So I will try to publish a printed version, and sell copies to institutions. Once the cost is covered, I’d want to get it online somehow in some manner that doesn’t preclude sales. But the markets are different; online is everyman, while the academic needs his page numbers and ISBN.
If this could be made to work, then perhaps we might do some more. Translators from Arabic seem fairly available. None of the big histories in Arabic are in English; Agapius, Eutychius, Bar-Hebraeus, Al-Makin, etc, although French translations exist of most of them. I estimate that Agapius is around 90,000 words, and it would cost about $10,000 dollars to have a translation made. Now that is more than most of us can spare (!). But it isn’t really such a huge sum of money, is it? It isn’t that long ago that a laptop cost $5,000, for instance. If one could sell the volume at $100 a go, and could sell 100 copies — I’ve no idea if one could! — the sum would come back there and then.
Is it possible? Could we do an ANF for the new millennium? Should I look for subscribers? How do I market the volumes to the sort of institutions that might buy them? Over what period do the sales come in? There are a lot of questions here. But I’m going to dip my toe in the water and see what happens.