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October 25, 2011

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Jobs bio a huge hit on release

THE Chinese version of Steve Jobs' authorized biography was released in China yesterday morning and was met with tremendous interest, selling out within hours in Shanghai.

Some 30 bookstores in 21 cities in the Chinese mainland started selling the book at 10:05am. "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, 560 pages long and priced at 68 yuan (US$ 10.67), attracted readers to line up outside Shanghai Book City on Fuzhou Road as early as 6am in the rain. Within the first hour of its release, 512 Chinese copies were sold.

By early afternoon, all 1,000 Chinese copies and 800 English ones were sold out. The area that had been designated to sell the biography was then filled with other books about the Apple chief, who died on October 5. The 10:05am release time was set in honor of the date.

Pan Yue, editor-in-chief of the book's Chinese publisher Citic Press, said the Chinese version was unabridged from the original - a major concern for Chinese readers, according to comments at online bookstores.

The American version is 656 pages.

During an online interview with the Chinese publisher yesterday afternoon, many of the questions concerned the quality and consistency of the translation. Many readers were worried because it was done in an unusually short period of time by four young translators selected from online competitions.

"It was an unusual challenge in terms of the short time and high difficulty level. But the four translators were selected from more than 400 candidates, and the editing involved even more professionals from various fields including music, medical and IT," said Yan Xiangdong, the publisher's deputy editor-in-chief. "The translation has reached quite high standard both in terms of readability and accuracy of wording."

As the book was launched, the Chinese publisher began an online event inviting readers to improve and polish the current translation. Some of the polished translations will be selected to make changes in subsequent editions. The next edition is already planned for mid-November, the publisher said.

Among the four translators, the youngest was 23 and the oldest 36. They were selected at the end of July in a three-round competition. The first round was a paragraph from "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs" by Alice Deutschman, and the second round a part about American culture in the 1960s selected from the authorized biography.

They finished more than 500,000 words of translation in less than five weeks.

Wei Qun spent a month translating the biography along with the three other translators. She told Xinhua News Agency that the book faithfully recorded the life of Jobs and will "enchant readers with its plain style."

"I chose to translate the biography of Steve Jobs, rather than other well-known people, because he was an esteemed genius who made products that touched people's souls," she said.


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