Turning fantasy into a reality that helps others

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

Turning fantasy into a reality that helps others tells the story of “Lucifer” Chu, who has made millions and is now directing an effort to translate MIT’s Open Courseware into Chinese:

At 18, Chu began working as a part-time columnist for a local computer magazine and in his spare time translated fantasy and science-fiction novels from English to Chinese.

His life was set to change in the late 1990s, when he first began reading the English editions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings. On hearing that a movie version of Tolkien’s trilogy was in the pipeline, Chu approached a local publisher and offered to translate the works into Chinese for a minimal fee.

The deal was that if the translated works sold less than 10,000 boxed-sets, or 40,000 individual copies, Chu would donate his translation services for free. If, however, sales surpassed the 10,000 mark he would receive 9 percent of the retail value of each book.

It was a gamble, but within weeks of the release of the first of director Peter Jackson’s big-screen trilogy in December, 2001, Chu’s translation had become a national bestseller.

The number of boxed-sets sold in Taiwan to date stands somewhere in the region of 220,000 and Chu is now worth in excess of a cool NT$27million. And all because he preferred to play video games, read fantasy novels and doodle in his notebooks rather than pay attention in class.

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