Due to the considerable increase in published material in the major world languages, and to the insistence by minority cultures on the use of local languages, publication of adequate translations (particularly of textbooks) has not kept pace.
Translations represent only 8 to 9% of world publication output. Of this small volume, 75% of translations are from 5 main languages widely spoken throughout the world and 75% are made in 12 main producing countries. There is therefore an imbalance which affects the whole book market.
A number of bottlenecks seriously impede book development in the world, particularly in regions where a book shortage prevails. One of the keys to the financing of intellectual production is the translation or adaptation of existing works in so far as this will provide a market for writers in countries with languages which are not widely spoken and will enable countries which cannot meet the demands of their inhabitants to supplement national production. Translation is, however, a medium of exchange from which the developing countries are least able to benefit although it is those countries which have the most urgent need of it.
As the Kenyan novelist, Ngugi wa Thiongo, argues, if authors would write in their indigenous languages, the problem of translations would be markedly reduced.