Interlinear Books Review: Cleverly Interwoven Bilingual Texts

Interlinear Books Review: Interlinear books are books in foreign languages that offer a translation underneath the main text.

This helps learners of the language to stay engaged in the story without having to look up in a dictionary or the opposite page.

I was contacted by Linus of InterLinear Books, an ambitious company producing bilingual texts for language learners. He asked me if I'd take a look at his product for the blog.

Of course, being the language learning guinea pig I am I accepted.

What is Interlinear Books?

To use InterLinear's own description:

“Interlinear translations are translations for language learners that include the original and an English translation just below in smaller font.”

Linus was kind enough to provide a free copy of their German Product: Frank Kafka's Die Verwandlung (English: The Metamorphosis) for me to go through and base my review on.

As I told him then, all my reviews will be objective and unbiased, which he was happy about.

My Interlinear Books Review: What do they actually look like?

When you open up the book, this is the format that you are presented with:

interlinear-books-review

The design is quite clever.

One of the first steps to reading fluency is to read books that offer the translation at hand, but to my knowledge there are no books that interweaves the translation directly in the text.

This allows a much higher flow of reading, compared to having to go to the opposite page or somewhere else, maybe even Google Translate to translate on the fly.

It's also a big win ‘relatively' early in your language learning process to actually read such complex works and understand them.

This is a big factor for motivation in language learning, that is to say the concept of ‘wins' where you actually achieve some success.

This success motivates you to work harder and soon enough you won't need the interlinear books.

Not for the absolute beginner

While you can definitely read/study these as a complete beginner too I think the strength of InterLinear is developing that working vocabulary and actually practicing your reading skills once you are past the initial stage of learning.

The translation is also of high quality.

It's very easy to see that it's not simply a Google Translation job, but some human has actually sat down and worked his way through the book.

This means that the translation is not only word-for-word but it also includes omitted terms check out this example:

interlinear-books-2

Here the translator expands on the fact that “ein” in this sentence, technically contains the english “for” and likewise he adds that although lang directly translates to long, in this sentence its supposed to mean ‘longer.'

This is a nice touch of quality and really helps reading comprehension.

You get the product in PDF and EPUB, which I believe will cover most devices.

The good stuff

  • High quality
  • Good classic books to choose from
  • Great method to get reading early
  • Epub and PDF should cover most devices

The Bad Stuff

  • Some of the books are a little expensive
  • Only 1 book per language and 8 total as of writing this

To be honest, there are very few negatives for Interlinear Books.

I do have ONE major problem with the formatting and that's, although the translation is in smaller font, my eyes still INSIST on going to the translation as a default. I think the translation needs to be in a lighter colour, maybe grey it out slightly so your eye is drawn to the next line of native text, instead of going straight to the translation.

Update: Apparently the colour was dimmed slightly in later updates

The assortment of Books is limited at the moment, but as they are a new company this is to be expected.

They currently provide a book each in German, Russian, Swedish and Lithuanian.

Update 2: They recently added French, Portuguese, Greek, and Spanish to their lineup.

I hope they expand their library in the future, hopefully also laterally (that is to say varying difficulties) this could help people in earlier stages of their language learning if they made an interlinear out of a children's book or similar level.

Conclusion

As a new language learning start-up, I feel that InterLinear Books is overall a quality product that fits perfectly into most people's language learning.

It has a few edges, particularly the way the translation is written and the limited selection holds them back from a perfect score.

There is a pricing problem though. Although I think that $12.99 and $14.99 is a good price for these books (Russian and Lithuanian) I think that $19.99 and $29.99 for the German and Swedish version respectively is a bit too high.

I'm sure it has something to do with the length, but I think if InterLinear wants to hit the broad market they need to be priced at less than $20 for the big works and maybe around $10 for the smaller.

Maybe they could make a book club where one can sign up and receive a new book in the chosen language every month and then obtain a significant discount.

That would make the price easier to swallow, as I'm sure there's a LOT of work involved with translating these word by word.

Go check them out today -> InterLinear Books

That's the end of my Interlinear Books review – have you tried them?

<3?
  • Chris Broholm says:

    Although I cannot win the prize I would say I’d go for the Russian Copy of The Death of Ivan Ilyich It’s by Leo Tolstoy, the world renowned Russian author. The most important factor though, is that I’m currently studying Russian and I have a deadline of basic fluency that is the 14th of June, so I need all the help I can get!

  • Linas says:

    Chris, thanks for the review! I would be ready to answer all the questions anyone might have in the comments.

  • Veronica S. says:

    Wow! This is such a great idea! I am an absolute beginner learning German and I purchased a copy of the Metamorphosis in German for my Kindle, as a gift to myself to read it in about 6 more months when I’m at the point in my studies that I can actually understand most of it. I am so looking forward to start reading it! But for some reason I Googled “English German interlinear books” and your post came up with this prize! I would really, really, really love to win the copy of Die Verwandlung and indulge myself reading it prior me being advanced in my studies!

    • Chris Broholm says:

      Hello Veronica!

      Thank you for leaving a comment, and I’m sure the complimentary copy of Kafka’s Metamorphosis from InterLinear books will make you very happy in your german studies.

      GER: (I’m not good either): Dankë für deinen kommentar. Ich bin sicher das du einen Interlinear buch auf Deutsch gut vergnügen würdest, und ich schicke bald einen zu deinen email.

  • […] us. In the last few months I have reviewed a few resources, such as Antosch and Lin Flashcards and The InterLinear Book System and I am always happy to keep reviewing products or services that could be of help to language […]

  • BHETY Pi says:

    While I was looking for a bilingual book, search engine brought me here. I would like to try the book Die Verwandlung but the price is just too much for me. I am fluent in Bicol, Tagalog (Philippine Languages) and English. I moved to Austria 2 years ago and learning the national language here as well as the dialect. A lot of people tell me to go out, speak and immerse myself, for me to be able to learn and master german, but I have problem with hearing. I just cant differentiate most of the words unless I hear it through a headset. So I always search visual materials to improve my german. I also speak a little bit of Mandarin and spanish. Thanks for the review.

  • Kerry-anne Quinn Karlsson says:

    Great review, I just stumbled upon Interlinear books today and thought it looked like a great concept !. I am not sure if they have all gone yet, but I shall tweet away and hope for the best. I am a recent starter on a Swedish Language course, we have just been given an assignment today on this very Swedish Novel and I am a little overwhelmed !. All the best and thanks for the informative review
    Kerry-Anne

    • Chris Broholm says:

      Hi Kerry, let me know how it goes! Lycka till!

      • Kerry-anne Quinn Karlsson says:

        tack så mycket ! x

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