Saturday, December 1, 2012

Freek Lankhof: A friend who offers an invaluable service to interpreters and translators across the United States

In all undertakings, there are people who go the extra mile for the collective good, and our profession is no exception.  I could include here a list of immediately recognizable names, but have decided to highlight the work of a person whose service to the interpreting and translation community in the US is undeniable, yet sometimes not fully acknowledged or appreciated.

 That person is Freek Lankhof, President of InTrans Book Service – a true friend of our profession.  Those who do not know Freek (one measure of his friendship is that he lets us pronounce his name “Freak” instead of “Frake”) may think at first that he is just an exhibitor in interpreting and translation conferences and educational activities throughout the United States. Well, he is an exhibitor, but not just that.  Freek is passionate about our profession –being himself a translator.  Born in the Netherlands, Freek studied Swedish and worked as a Swedish–Dutch translator.  He also worked for a Dutch publishing company and then became a proofreader and copy editor.  The book distribution business brought him to the United States, but he quickly decided to start his own company focused on reference and teaching materials in English –Spanish translation and interpretation, although he also stocks a variety of resources in other languages.
If you organize an activity with enough participants to make it worth his while to attend (hey… the guy has to make a living), he will be there.  At times, he will load up his car with hundreds of heavy books and drive miles to allow us to buy resources right at the event.  Other times, he will fly to the event, shipping his books ahead of time. The wonderful thing about all this is that Freek is always there with his friendly smile and gentle manners. Even more wonderful is that he will not stop coming to our events even if some of his books have been stolen; sad to say.  Freek and his services have become a feature of most educational events in our field.  Exhibitors come and go, but Freek is always there. He is part of our profession.
Giants like Amazon.com, however, are an imminent threat to his business.  While Freek runs his business not only to earn a living but because he loves what he does, he cannot offer the discounts that the giants of the book distribution business can.  I would urge my fellow translators and interpreters to never use our friend’s list of books and prices as a source of information and then buy those books somewhere else.  The research work that Freek does to provide our profession with the latest publications is more than worth any small additional price for his books and reference materials. This is what I love about Freek and wanted to share with you.

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