Sunday, May 09, 2010

TSS: When a new book isn't a new book

I am sure that I am not alone in having had this experience. You are avidly watching the listings for an author you like to read when finally a new title appears. Yes! A new book! That is until you take a closer look and think, that sounds similar to one I have already read. Or for international readers like me, you are checking Amazon UK and you see a title you have already read, and then you check Amazon US and there is a new book with a different title. Yes! A new book! Given that there are some times months or years between when a book is released in different countries, you have to have a close look at the synopsis to find out if it is the same book or a different book. As a reader, I find this very frustrating at times.

Just recently over at Historical Tapestry, we got sent an email about a book for an author who I have read and enjoyed two books from before. I have been keeping an eye out for any news of a new book, and so I was very excited. While I was reading the brief description provided, I was thinking that this book had a very similar setting to one of her previous books. It was only when I went to the website and read the whole synopsis that I realised that it was actually the same book with a different title. To be fair, the new title really works for the book, and I wish the author every success with their US release, but I was just a fraction disappointed when I realised that this wasn't a new book, but rather a repackaging of an old one.

This seems to happen to some authors more than others. For example, when Ariana Franklin's medieval mystery series featuring a female medical examiner was initially released, the first book was called Mistress of the Art of Death both in the US and the UK. The second book was known as The Serpent's Tale in some countries, but in others it was The Death Maze. This difference in titles continued with the third book, known as Grave Goods in some places and Relics of the Dead in others. Yet the fourth book appears to be known as A Murderous Procession everywhere. Talk about confusing!

Not too long ago, there was a Nora Roberts novel released under the name of Big Jack. What wasn't particularly clear was that this work had previously been released as the first half of Remember When, which was a novel where half had been written as Nora Roberts and the other half was written as part of the In Death series that she writes as J D Robb. If I had been buying her books only to realise that this was a poorly publicised re release I would not have been happy.

And yet I am sure that there are valid reasons for having different titles, but often those reasons are not clear to the reader. Not too long ago, I read a piece on Elizabeth Chadwick's blog where she talked about the reasons why her next US release will have a new title. Instead of being known as The Time of Singing, the book will be called For the King's Favor. If I can find the piece I will link to it. Part of the reason given was that there was some confusion for readers - some times they talked about A Time for Singing, A Time of Singing, The Time of the Singing etc, (and yes, I was guilty of getting the title wrong more than once) and so I get why it might be a good idea to have a different title, and it was interesting to read why that decision has been made. A lot of the time though, there are no reasons given. Just decisions made and the reader has to figure out for themselves that this really isn't actually a new book but one that they have already invested time and money into it.

Is this something that bothers other readers, or is something that people aren't really aware of? Have you ever found yourself reading a book that you have already read because you didn't realise that it had a new title?


  1. It never bothered me before I moved to the UK. Even my book blog was originally very US-centric, so I didn't come across too many books with different names. Now I have to keep my eye on books to make sure I haven't bought them and had them for review as well or something.

    And the re-titling of rereleases has always annoyed me. I hate thinking one of my favorite authors is about to release a new book only to discover I've already read it. I get why they do it, but why is it a problem to say it's a rerelease?

  2. I suspect it is something that I do notice more simply because some times the books I am looking for have a UK release day, or a US release day or even an Australian release date, so I am constantly looking at book sites in at least 3 countries. It is therefore more obvious to me than it might be to someone who only has to worry about looking at more than one set of info.

  3. Yes, it annoys me too, luckily though I generally already know the title has been changed before I go looking for new books. Philip Pullman has had quite a few book's titles changed so now I'm always triple checking. I understand if authors do it if, say, there is a popular book already out with the title they'd chosen, but otherwise it's just confusing. I often run a check on books before posting a review because if the covers are also different it's best to keep people from being confused if you can.

  4. Annoys me totally! I generally do a little research these days when I buy books, but I am bound to slip up one day!

  5. Oh, this drives me up the wall! I remember reading an Australian fantasy series about five years ago -- it was six books in Australia but only three in the US and only one US title had anything in common with the Australian ones. And then there was the British novel I bought three years ago that had a totally different title and author in the US -- I almost bought it twice!

    Professionally, I'm constantly frustrated on behalf of my romance reading library patrons who come in looking for a "new" romance only to find that it is a hardcover release of a PB written in the 70s/80s :(

    Dear publishers, why be evil? Oh, that's right! The monies!

  6. I hate this, too! I feel like it happens much more with historical fiction than any other genre (except that Harry Potter #1 had a different name in the US than everywhere else). I also feel like the title changes most often for the US audience, which annoys me. It seems to imply that we aren't smart enough for the original title, or that we won't "get" it the way that everyone else does.

  7. As an international reader, this bugs me as well, but even more, it confuses me to no end. Its often that the books I read have different titles depending on where they are released, it being UK or US.

  8. It is really annoying when that happens. I often have the feeling I need to triple check with certain authors. I do think it often happens to historical novels, romance or YA books, but maybe that's just me.

  9. Add me to the list of people who are annoyed by this. I don't think it is necessary at all. Has happened numerous times over the years. Only one that comes to mind is the first Harry Potter. Was sorcer's stone and philosopher's stone depending on which part of the world you live in

  10. It bothers me when I am searching for a particular book title and cannot find it, or am told it is out of print, only to later discover that it's in stock under another title. It would be nice if bookstores and online book suppliers could link that information so you know straight away that it's available under a different title.

  11. Yep, it's annoying. I have a similar story that really irked me about remakes - one of Sarah Dessen's books (and I can't remember which now!) was turned into the movie How to Deal and then re-released as a book with that title. Silly me, I thought it was a new book! It made me feel like I had been seriously duped. Not cool. Sad to say, I hold a little grudge against Ms. Dessen, though I'm sure it's not her fault at all. Sigh.

  12. I have actually bought a "new" book by an author I enjoy, only to realize that I read it several years ago and it's just a reprinting.

    And I think the title changed, too. Or I forgot what the original title was, because of the time distance...

  13. I have never had the experience of looking at a "new" book, only to find out it is a new release of and old book, but I can imagine that if it did, I wouldn't be too pleased about it! I wonder sometimes if it is just a marketing ploy to sell more copies!

  14. I can see how that is frustrating. I really don't come across it all that often, though, as I'm mostly looking at US titles and not both UK and US.

  15. This definitely bothers me. It seems that it happens quite a bit with series books and that makes it hard to keep up. Sometimes I wonder if they do it on purpose so people will end up buying more books!

  16. It's funny, but I made pretty much the same comments and observations as yourself, only last night, when I was listing a Kathy Reichs event, on my blog.

    She is coming to the UK to promote her latest book 'Mortal Remains,' but it was originally released in the US, and is already available in the UK as 'Spider Bones.'

    I wouldn't be so concerned, if there was a translation problem, when publishing in different countries, but as far as I know, both we English and the Americans, understand the same language, enough to be able to read a book title.

    You like to think that it isn't the author or their agent trying to make a quick buck, by getting unsuspecting people to buy bioth versions of the book, but who knows!!

    Tess Gerritsen is another author that does it quite a lot.



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