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Book clinic: why are some titles changed from country to country?

11 February 2018

From The Guardian:

Q: Why are book titles sometimes changed depending on country of publication (for example, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK/Sorcerer’s Stonein the US) and what factors are considered when making a title change?

. . . .

A: From Rebecca McNally, editorial director of the children’s division at Bloomsbury Publishing.

There is a little bit of magic in a good title. It must entice and intrigue potential readers. Titles are the “word” in a “word-of-mouth” bestseller. Until recently, changes were common – for commercial reasons, cultural sensitivity or because of a pre-existing book with a similar moniker. And really, it did not matter unless/until a film came out that favoured one title over the other, which was a nice problem to have.

Children’s books have been particularly prone to transatlantic title shifts: Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights became The Golden Compass; Jennifer Donnelly’s US bestseller A Northern Light became A Gathering Light; Diana Wynne Jones, Anne Fine and Dick King-Smith all found that a title beloved of British children was deemed unenticing elsewhere. Who knows why Where’s Wally? became Where’s Waldo?, but it worked. Legend has it that 20 years ago Philosopher’s Stone was considered a little arcane in America and so, no one knowing quite what a phenomenon lived within its covers, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published a year after UK readers first met the boy wizard.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

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5 Comments to “Book clinic: why are some titles changed from country to country?”

  1. > This would not happen now. Every book has a global digital footprint that is no respecter of territory.

    Anyone have a book open yet for when this will next happen? Put me down for July 2018.

  2. “Q: Why are book titles sometimes changed?”

    Because some people are idiots who insist on interfering.

    Still happens in film: Zootopia was released as Zootropolis in the UK, because … idiot reasoning.

    • Someone else in Europe already had a trademark on “Zootopia”.

      • OK, that makes sense. I think Microsoft failed for some reason to lockdown “SkyDrive,” so it had to change to OneDrive lest customers confuse it with Britain’s Sky News TV’s “SkyDrive.” Shame, because the name was pretty cool.

        Another sensible change was switching “Men Who Hate Women” to “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” I just can’t see the former being a bestseller in the US. I sure wouldn’t have bothered reading it 🙂

        I’m less sold on switching “Philosopher’s Stone” to “Sorcerer’s Stone.”

  3. “Royale with Cheese”.

    Pulp Fiction, that’s why.

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