A Bible for Healthcare Interpreters? A new resource for our profession (Part 3 of 3)

English Version

The English and ASL versions have similar content but are not direct translations of each other. The goal in offering both is to provide more complete access to the information.

HealthcareBookFormatsThis is the third of a three-part series reviewing the book, Introduction to Healthcare for Interpreters and Translators by Ineke Crezee.  This segment focuses on the pros and cons of the different available formats.  Part 1 features an interview with the author and an understanding of the motivation for writing this volume.  Part 2 focuses on the actual content delivered in the book and how it can be used.

The Upshot

Introduction to Healthcare for Interpreters and Translators by Ineke Crezee is an extremely useful resource for interpreters working in healthcare settings and worth the $54 to purchase a copy.  Crezee has done the field a favor by distilling relevant information about healthcare settings and practice into a well-organized and accessible format that interpreters and translators will find invaluable to have as an ongoing reference.

Available from John Benjamins and GooglePlay.

The Formats

This part of my review focuses on how this book can be most practical for interpreters.  As I mentioned in the the first part of this series, I had the opportunity to review both the paperback version ($54 from John Benjamins) and the scanned eBook ($42.66 from GooglePlay.)  The other versions available are hardbound ($149 from John Benjamins) and eBook which is currently advertised as $149.  Note the term “currently” as I contacted the publisher about this price and learned that John Benjamins is developing their own eBook platform and plan to release their books at the price of the paperback if one is available.

Strengths and Drawbacks

Both the versions I reviewed were organized in a very logical manner and include an extensive index to allow interpreters and translators to find specific items quickly.  For example, if you were called to an angiogram, you could immediately ascertain that relevant information is to be found on pages 179 and 211. The layout of the text in both of these formats uses frequent lists and tables which make it easy to scan through the book to find relevant information—very helpful.

A paperback is more susceptible to being damaged over time. During my interview with the author, she stated that interpreters in New Zealand carried around dog-eared copies of the book; signs of use, but also signs of wear.  In addition, for a book to contain this much information in a well-organized format, it cannot be small.  The dimensions of the paperback: 9.5” x 6.75” x .875”. (That’s 24 mm x 17 mm x 2.2mm for you metric users.)  So, it is not a small book to carry around, but if you prefer a paper copy, it is one worth having and caring for.

The advantages of an eBook include it can simply be carried with you on a tablet or a phone.  For those of you on a budget (which probably includes all of us) it is hard not to notice that it is less expensive to purchase the eBook from GooglePlay than to buy the paperback or eBook from John Benjamins.

The GoogleBook version does have limitations.  It does not have flowing text.  This means that you cannot change how large the text is on the page.  Essentially, you are only able to see an image of each book page, so it works well on a tablet with its larger screen, but the pages would be too small on a phone to be functional.  Additionally, the search function in an eBook reader on an iOS device (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) does not work—nor can you take notes on topics the way it is possible in other eReaders like iBooks. The search function does, however, work on Android devices.

(As a workaround, the book does have an extensive index that can be manually searched and then the page number quickly found.  Not as fast as the Search function, but as effective as using the index in the printed version.)

When I first wrote this review, the version of the book did not include the images shared in the printed version which is of particular value for interpreters who work with a visual language like ASL.  That glitch has been corrected.  As one of the benefits of an eBook platform -I was prompted to re-download the book when I opened it on my iPad after the change had been made.

Regarding the possibility of having flowing text that can be re-sized and thus more useful on the smaller screen of a phone, I received this comment from Pieter Lamers, production manager for John Benjamins:

The Google Play edition is based upon the PDF version. It will be searchable but not have reflowable text. We are looking into adding ePub versions of select titles. The nature of ePub makes this (reflowable) format less trustworthy and thus unsuitable for most of our academic publications.

This is a challenge for publishers.  The state of the digital publishing


The price of the book means that most interpreters will need to give serious consideration when deciding whether or not to purchase it.  For those working in healthcare settings, I believe it is a worthwhile investment in the quality of our practice.  The amount of time it saves us in doing our research on a given setting is definitely worth $54.  Whether or not to go with the paperback version or the eBook really depends on how you use technology—though the trends in publishing are in the direction of digital books and if you have a tablet, this might be a good eBook to add to your library.

Personally, I will be using the eBook version because my tablet has already become an indispensable part of my practice for interpreting in healthcare settings. I also have it on my phone, and though the text is small on the phone’s screen, it is still legible to these 44-year-old eyes. So, having the eBook allows me to bring an incredibly valuable resource that I am able to navigate through quickly without it carrying any more weight.  It also means that I can more effectively prep even for the last minute assignments.   While waiting for the patient to be seen, I can review the relevant chapter to be more prepared for providing the highest quality service to both providers and patients.


Crezee, I.  2013.  Introduction to Healthcare for Interpreters and Translators.  Amsterdam:  John Benjamins.

Ordering information retrieved on November 11, 2013 from http://www.benjamins.com/#catalog/books/z.181/main