Same book – Different title (a bookworm’s gripe)

NOTE: This post was last updated on February 19, 2019

I take umbrage when publishers, in their infinite wisdom, decide to rename a book which already has a perfectly acceptable title.  This has occurred time and time again with books on my own personal TBR. For some unfathomable reason, publishers on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean seem to think that we readers differ and will be attracted by different covers and titles.

I prefer the cover and title on the left

again, I prefer the cover and title on the left

I actually had BOTH of these on my TBR until I realized they were the same book!

I actually BOUGHT both of these. URGH!

I personally prefer the cover and title on the left. I’m not sure I would have even picked up the cover on the right.

I prefer the cover and title on the left

again, I much prefer the cover and title on the left

the left hand cover wins again

cover on the left wins again

Bookworms everywhere must have encountered this issue on more than one occasion. Readers who follow authors or series rather than titles, fall victim to this ploy regularly. I even purchased the same book twice because of it.  (Maybe that is their evil plan….)

Yes, I actually bought BOTH of these. I remember being SO excited that Peter Robinson had a new book out!

the decision to change the word ‘close’ to ‘alley’ for North American audiences is one that I find ludicrous. Anyone who follows Rankin’s Rebus wants to read #15 in the series regardless Also, they know what a ‘close’ is.

And don’t even get me started as to how much I hated it back when I was working as a library cataloger.  The library would have a book, patrons would place holds on that book. Then… another patron would hear about a book and place a ‘suggestion for purchase’. We’d buy that book and that title would generate holds being placed on it.  Then, when I catalogued it I would discover that book B was the SAME BOOK as book A.    URGHHHH! Our means of handling the problem was enough to give a cataloger nightmares.  We merged the two records together!!!!  GASP!  The reason for this was so that ALL the patrons who had holds on the book would be in one queue.  This in turn led to all sorts of mayhem, as when they came to pick up their book, they thought they were getting the wrong one!

This has happened a few times with one of my favorite authors, Louise Penny. On her website, Penny writes:
“The publishers did this not, as you might suspect, to be annoying but because they genuinely feel their readers respond to different titles.”

As I’ve mentioned, this practice of having one book with two different titles is a nightmare for library staff, and I expect, bookstore staff as well.  Some of the titles are so completely different that one would never guess it is the same book.  Some have common words and are changed only slightly.  What is the point? (other than to give library workers and bookstore employees grey hair)

It happened to one of my all-time favorite novels!

and one of my all-time favorite novelists, Ruth Rendell

and another of my favorite novelists, Fredrik Backman

It has happened with books by one of the world’s best-selling novelists!

It happened to the “Queen of Crime”

it has happened to Graham Greene

It has happened to Diana Gabaldon (“Outlander” is such a better title…)

and Sophie Hannah

and Ariana Frankliin

and Jonathan Tropper

and Tess Gerritsen

and Jessica Treadway

and P.J. Tracey

and Kathleen Kent

and Richard Montanari

and Joseph Finder

and Diane Chamberlain

and the award-winning Lawrence Hill

along with myriad others that I don’t have time to name….

As a reader, what are YOUR thoughts on this issue?

Also, I’d love to hear what authors feel about this practice.

I’d love to hear your stories about books that are published under two different titles.

Post a comment!

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Dustjackets, ramblings & miscellanea and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Same book – Different title (a bookworm’s gripe)

  1. I didn’t know it happened so much. I knew The Taking of Annie Thorne caused a lot of confusion but lots of the other titles are a surprise. I need to check my library now to see I don’t have both copies of P.J. Tracy. I read one novel and really enjoyed it so bought others in the series whenever there was a big promo. I haven’t read them yet though, hopefully I don’t have the same book twice now. Great post lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lauren Fechhelm Moore says:

    I’m way late to this party but I have two: Relics of the Dead AKA Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin, and The Wolves of Andover AKA The Traitor’s Wife by Kathleen Kent.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tatyana Valda Belinda Hill says:

    This gets on my nerves so much! I invariably end up buying both (or in my current case, all three). If they are going to do this, why can’t they just make it obvious? It is unfair to readers/buyers.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: New BFF: Fictionophile | The Belgian Reviewer

  5. Interesting post! As a blogger, I feel your frustration but as I also work for a publisher, I can also understand their commercial reasoning behind it. They are genuinely doing what is best for the book – so to speak – and if people are not responding to one title or cover, you would be amazed at how that changes with a new title, new cover or both. However, we always note the change after the description – so it really is up to the reader to see. Easier for digital only publishers, as we don’t have to repackage a whole load of books. Publishers would not be doing it unless there was a good reason as it comes with significant costs. So I honestly can see it from both sides. I have also noticed that sometimes the same book has one cover for digital and one for PB; as well as one version for UK (for instance) and one for US. Now I am rambling! ha ha – but just wanted to explain that I do understand it from both sides but know that the decision to change is not to annoy readers, but in fact – to gain more and get the author the attention they deserve. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your expert opinion. I understand the reasoning, but I think that sometimes the publishers give too little credit to the readers. Example: Ian Rankin’s “Freshmarket Close” was changed to “Freshmarket Alley” for North American readers. This book was the 15th in a long series set in Edinburgh. If the reader was not familiar with the UK term ‘Close’ by then, then when would they? I think changing the terminology in this instance was both expensive for the publisher and insulting to the prospective readers.
      Sorry for the rant, but this is a topic I feel strongly about. Especially after working in a public library for decades and seeing it from both the reader’s point of view AND that of a library cataloguer (having to make all the cross references so that the patron could realize it was the SAME book). ♥

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Holly B / Dressedtoread says:

    Funny story…I requested both Simon Lelic books and only got approved for one!!


  7. Pingback: Obsessed with book covers – Yeah I know. (Jess Kidd novel) | Fictionophile

  8. I’ve been caught out by this before too. I really don’t understand publishers who alter books for North American audiences. There was an NZ book that had a reference to lamingtons removed when it was published in the US because no one would know what a lamington is. Yet I read US books full of references I don’t understand so I either look them up or go on in blissful ignorance.


  9. Pingback: “What she knew” by Gilly MacMillan | Fictionophile

  10. Annika Perry says:

    I cannot believe I hadn’t realised this was happening!! Some of these I’ve known in one version but never of the other. It seems to be confusing practice at best! I too have a feeling I might have bought one of these books twice. – the Backman one but not got round to reading the other one yet! Grr. A fascinating post and yet again learning so much. Thank you so much for making me aware of this and I’ll keep my eyes peeled in future!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ugh I strongly dislike when this happens.. why?! Everything You Want Me to Be threw me for a loop earlier! Great post on a topic I have yet to see anyone else approach!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi. I never knew about this practice. Publishing the same book with different titles? – – – it’s weird and nuts. I wonder how it works legally in regard to copyright laws et al. Nothing but confusion all around!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Cathy G says:

    This drives me absolutely mental! Great post

    Liked by 1 person

  14. skyecaitlin says:

    I was completely unaware of this, and you are so right to feel annoyed and thank you so much for giving us warning. The book should say clearly; ” Formerly entitled——by so and so.” I noticed that they also shake things up with using pseudonyms, as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post! I’ve bought the same book a couple of times due to the title and cover being changed, it’s so frustrating. In some cases it feels deliberately misleadingly when there’s no mention at all that it was previously sold under a different title.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. carhicks says:

    I bought the Tess Gerritsen one twice because of this. Fortunately it was at a used book sale so it was not too costly. I did not realize it was that common.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fictionophile says:

      I think it is a devious practice that should be outlawed. Is that too strong?? LOL Now I don’t feel so bad about buying Peter Robinson’s book twice.


  17. Nicole @ booksinked says:

    It did not happen to me at all. But wow, I can see why it is a nightmare for a cataloger. I learned how to catalog in grad school, and yeah. wow. I cannot imagine if they changed any of my favorite books and thinking it’s a brand new book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fictionophile says:

      Thanks for your comment Nicole. It is especially frustrating when you follow ‘authors’ rather than notice titles. You buy EVERYTHING that a certain author writes, only to find that you have two of the same book.


  18. I hate it when this happens too. Sometimes the title will change when a book is released in a different country, but with the internet and being able to order books from different countries you have to be careful. It also happens with movie titles. A few times I’ve picked up a dvd then realised I’ve already seen it under a different title.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fictionophile says:

      I agree Martin. The internet has made the world so ‘small’ that it seems unnecessary to change titles for different regions. Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. M T McGuire says:

    I bought the same Bill Bryson book twice. It’s very annoying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fictionophile says:

      Whew! I guess I’m not the only one who bought the same book twice! It’s funny, I was going to add Bill Bryson’s “Down Under“, but decided to stick to just fiction for my examples. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I did not know this was such a common thing!! I will definitely have to be more on alert when picking up books.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. It’s funny because I agree – most of the titles and books they discarded I liked better than the ones they changed to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fictionophile says:

      Hope I didn’t mislead you. The titles were not discarded as such. For the most part they are simultaneously being sold on either side of the Atlantic. The publishers seem to think that the markets are SO vastly different, that what is acceptable in the UK is not acceptable in the US/Can. markets. In my humble opinion, readers are not so fickle that they need to be ‘worked’ in this manner by publishers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just like the Harry Potter name change. In the UK and Canada we get Philosophers Stone and in the US they got Sorcerers stone. Strange. I don’t really see the difference or need for a change lol. And what I meant by discarded was that they changed it to something regionally appropriate lol I choose the wrong words a lot lol

        Liked by 2 people

  22. Great post and I too find it incredibly annoying, I think perhaps the first title didn’t sell as well as they hoped so they rebranded and tried again. And OMG, how different are the Mindy Mejia covers! I agree the Hattie Hoffman one is much better!
    It happened to me with The Project series by Nikki Owen, book one I read was called Subject 365, but book one is also called The Spider in the Corner of the Room 🙈 It also happens to one of my fav books of last year Method 15/33 or should I say The Method. So frustrating!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. rashthedoctor says:

    tbh I didn’t even know that authors do this , I generally don’t buy a lot of recent new titles , those I do , I do so by consulting with Goodreads or by reading a review by someone who has read the book , and never come across changed title doing so . I do understand it must be annoying though , I must start keeping an eye on books I have on my TBR from now on

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fictionophile says:

      To be fair, I first became aware of this practice while working at a library. Though, as I said, only this week my first TWO examples were brought to my attention when I requested them for review.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Susie | Novel Visits says:

    Wow! You’ve rounded up a lot of examples. It is so, so annoying when publishers do this. It must overall pay off for them and I suspect that it’s only really committed readers that ever notice. A person who only reads ten or twelve books a year probably wouldn’t run across two examples of the same story.
    On the same vein, I hate when I see a book being marketed as a new release and then look at it online only to find out it was originally released a year or two ago!
    Fun post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fictionophile says:

      Yes Susie, I agree with your comment about new releases. More times than enough I’ve gotten excited to see a ‘new’ book by one of my favorite authors – only to discover it is an ‘old’ book, repackaged.


  25. I find it as annoying as you (and I’ve shared your library pains re reservations). I can sort of understand if an older title is re-issued and a publisher might want to give it a more contemporary cover and relevant title. Though even then it should be highlighted on the record entry so anyone buying it is aware. What I don’t get is the change of title for the UK vs US market. Unless you’re going to go through the book and adapt everything else what is the point. Pick a title that is suitable for both like the majority of other authors manage to do. I find some of it quite devious for example when an author ‘takes off’ and the back catalogue that wasn’t so well known is rehashed with a new title so readers assume it’s new. That’s fine is you’ve not read it, but if you’ve been a fan since the beginning it’s annoying. – Rant over, but you did ask 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fictionophile says:

      I knew you’d share my pain Jill. I agree SO much about your UK vs US/Can market comment. For example British television is immensely popular this side of the Atlantic. We manage to listen and understand British jargon just fine. Why change a title so that it is more ‘understandable’ to the North American market? (as was the case with Ian Rankin’s “Fleshmarket Close”).

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Cathy says:

    So frustrating when that happens. It’s what prompted me to keep a record which in turn lead to my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Incredibly annoying. Like you, I’ve accidentally purchased the same book twice as the title had changed. I can’t even imagine the nightmare for librarians and booksellers.

    I don’t get the point at all. CD’s don’t change titles whether they’re released in the US or Europe. Why do it with book titles?

    Also agree with you about the Hattie Hoffman cover. I never would have looked at the one on the right.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s