Recently, I saw a series of tweets of some Japanese professional translators. They mentioned that translation fee is so decreasing that they hardly earn enough money to live from their job.
Togetter: 1.2 million JPN of annual income for a translator (in Japanese)
According to them, they got one million JPY for translating a whole novel. If they could publish four books in a year, they earned four million JPY, which is about the income of average Japanese.
Recently, however, the fee has been reduced to only 300 thousand JPY per book. It is a third of the previous grade. In spite of continuous deflation, this amount is too low for a person to survive. Thus, translators cannot stand by their own profession. Many translators have to be engaged in another job combined.
The reduction of translation fee is attributable to the lowered sales of books. Most publishers are suffering from customers reluctant to buy a book.
Previously, we could read a large amount of books in Japanese originally written in a foreign language. But it is possible that we will not get translated books in the future, because no one is willing to translate them for such a cheap reward.
On the other hand, young Japanese will be good at English since Japanese government is investing in the education of English language. Perhaps they will not miss translated books. Many English books would be placed beside Japanese ones in the bookstore. The situation is similar to that in EU countries.
In the academic world, translating a textbook is rather a duty than a way to earn money. For example, I have been engaged in translation work twice. In the both cases, I never got a reward. If translation fee were paid, the purchase cost would have been raised. It leads lowered sales of the book. Our goal is to spread the new textbook in Japan. Therefore, the price should be reduced as much as possible. As a result, we ignore the personal income. Anyway, we were able to earn a little money for translation.
Publishers are also indifferent to the profit in the translation of an academic textbook. They do not perform detailed marketing in advance. Whether a textbook will be sold well or not is unclear for the publisher. Some books are difficult to read because of complex language. And the editor usually has little skills to correct the description. It means that the skills of translators are crucial.
My past entry: Translation Problems
Very recently, I completed the textbooks translated. I hope they will be popular, even if they would not bring me any profit.