“Since we do not hold a membership in any international copyright convention, you may find several translations of a book on the market, so people should trust the major publishing companies to buy a better translation of a book,” Saless sales manager Sina Jafarieh told the Tehran Times last week during the 32nd Tehran International Book Fair.
He said that for lack of copyright, companies in Iran republish bestsellers published by Saless with some minor modifications and sell the books at lower prices, as buyers don’t know that the better versions of the books have already been published by the publisher.
“Novels by writers from Afghanistan, Russia, Turkey and Tajikistan, whose cultures are mostly similar to ours, are always on the list of our bestsellers, and that is the reason why the lesser-known publishers copy them,” he said.
To prevent the problem, publishers are consulting with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to find a practical solution.
Furthermore, publishers are collaborating with the Ministry of Intelligence and police to remove pirated books from the black market.
To publish a book, Iranian publishers are required by law to register the book on a list named FIPA at the National Library and Archives of Iran.
“We check the list before we start working on a book,” said Abazar Rezania, the manager of Kuleh Poshty Publications.
Despite the fact that Iran doesn’t hold a membership in any international copyright convention, he said that his company enters into negotiations with foreign writers or publishers to acquire the copyright of their books.
“However, some companies in the country republish the books, which are exclusively ours,” he lamented.
For example, Kule Poshty acquired the copyright to the Persian version of Rachel Hollis’s “Girl Wash Your Face”, which was released at Iranian bookstores in 2018. The book turned out to be a bestseller in Iran and afterward, several other translations of the book were illegally published in the country.
Tandis Publications is another Iranian company, which has chosen to respect the copyright of foreign books. But the director of the company lamented that the recent U.S. sanctions have put obstacles in the way of companies trying to legally collaborate with publishers overseas.
“Due to the sanctions, all money transfers between Iranian publishers and their foreign counterparts are impossible,” Abolfazl Mirbaqeri said.
Until Iran obtains membership in some international copyright convention, readers will have to consider the reputation of translators and publishers when purchasing an original version of a Persian translation of a book by a foreign writer.