What the Heck Is Happening to Book Titles?!

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From Publishers Weekly:

Publishers and bookstore owners: do you wonder why sales have dipped and are struggling to catch up to last year’s numbers? Take a moment to review your lists and displays from viewers’ and visitors’ perspective. Dedicated readers, who once considered these resources and destinations a haven, now find some sections equivalent to an assault.

For those of us who enjoy reading publications with book review sections and bestseller lists, the pleasure of discovering a few lyrical works comes to a screeching halt in the presence of titles filled with vulgarities. Similarly, a happily anticipated visit to a local bookstore quickly takes a wrong turn when centrally placed and unavoidable tables prominently showcase stacks of books shouting obscenities with angry venom.

While a well-placed colorful word can pack a punch when used sparingly, resorting to vulgar titles is actually an easy, mindless, and lazy knee-jerk marketing approach. In an attempt to reach and speak to the masses, these word choices continue to dumb down book titles and subjects while discouraging any effort to strengthen thinking, meaning, or purpose—let alone a sense of integrity for authors, marketers, or the industry.

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Perhaps pejorative and jargon-filled titles are a reflection of competitive markets and desperate efforts to grab attention. However, is the raunchy mangling of language and thought worth the cost?

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Bad A** and F*** Collections: Bookstore tables overflowing with these popular but unappealing phrases have even started to encroach on the religion section. This serious head-scratcher is a clear sign of mauled language and values, resulting from frantic attempts to increase sales. The asterisks in the titles don’t soften the crass blow or cloaked attempts to veil negative curse words, which have oddly become a compliment. Is this message the one to convey to or shape the next generation of so-called leaders?

Nasty B**** and Slut Titles: Adding to variations of the “baddest” bombs, some proudly self-defined feminists have taken to smearing their work with the big B and S words. These titles are prime-time insults, even when personally professed. In any delivery, they diminish women, who have worked for decades to earn respect, while setting the bar low for young girls struggling to form their identities in a confusing world.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

While nothing prevents indie authors from choosing titles of equivalent offensiveness, PG will note that the author of the OP is talking about books from traditional publishers, the self-appointed curators of our culture.

7 thoughts on “What the Heck Is Happening to Book Titles?!”

  1. My next title will be:
    B@$*&*^% F******* T**s
    A novel of #$@%!

    Take that church lady journalist!

    I’d love to know what “naughty” words were making it into the religious section though. It’s a stupid trend but no one is forcing anyone to read those books and I doubt the sales slump is because of the verbiage, it’s probably due to the poorly written books.

  2. Darn. I thought the article was going to be a put down of those meaningless, wordy titles like “We Wrought Our Own Iron in the Summer of Our Demise.” I do wish someone would speak out about THOSE.

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