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Multiple Covers and Titles for Books

Discussion: Multiple Covers and Titles?

Multiple Covers and Titles

I have a bit of a gripe this week. What is it with the same book having not only different covers for different countries, but also different titles?? I understand that for publishing in different countries the way copyright works is that there generally needs to be a new cover. Also, if the book has been translated, the title needs to be translated into something that makes sense and appeals to speakers of the new language. An interesting example of this is Jim C. Hines The Stepsister’s Scheme:

The Stepsister Scheme Drei Engel Fuer Armand

The German cover seems a little ridiculous to me (in terms of female body proportions), but it’s holding on to the three heroine idea from the original cover. The title translates directly into “Three Angels for Armand” where Armand is the prince that needs rescuing in the story. While I’m not a huge fan of the change of focus for the title (since the stepsister’s scheme is pretty awesome), I would believe that these are the same book. However, I didn’t realize that these two were the same book for at least a couple of months:

Shadow and Bone The Gathering Dark

The style is obviously completely different, but the UK title doesn’t need to be different! Now I’m obviously not in marketing, so maybe they had a very good reason for the complete change in style and title, but it’s freaking confusing when you read international book blogs, hehe. I was super excited for “both” of these books when I was seeing cover images in haul updates. Yes, maybe I should have done a bit more research when I was first seeing The Gathering Dark, but did anyone else get confused by these titles? I honestly would be more likely to pick up The Gathering Dark than Shadow and Bone if I was going on cover and title alone. I’ve since been convinced by all the awesome reviews that Shadow and Bone is fantastic, so now I’m excited for my library hold to come in, don’t worry ;-).

Does anyone have a better idea than me why these extreme changes happen between the US and UK editions? Like I said, I understand different covers because of copyright, but the title doesn’t have to change does it? Have you run into this problem when reading blogs from different countries? Are there other examples of extreme changes that you’ve been confused by? (And don’t get me started on cover changes on later editions….)

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings -A

© 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. In Canada (where it’s from), the first book in the Ava Lee series is The Water Rat of Wanchai, in the US it was stupidly retitled to a chintzy and touch racist title of “The Deadly Touch of the Tigress.” The first title (Wanchai) references the book’s antagonist as do every book title subsequent thereafter in the series; the 2nd title (Tigress) references Ava Lee but has no tie in with the book as she’s never referenced as such. The US publisher published the sequels thereafter under their original titles so the The Deadly Touch of the Tigress no longer really ties in with the rest of the series, but it seems they’ve republished and reverted the title back to The Water Rat of Wanchai.

    • That is so annoying! I’m glad that they didn’t ruin the rest of the books, but I wish that they just wouldn’t do these sorts of things…

  2. Anya, your auto reply email is so funny! Loved it :-)

    • Oh good, you’re getting it? when I tried to test it myself, I couldn’t receive one, but I’m glad it’s working for everyone else!

  3. Really, well no wonder I couldn’t find Shadow and Bone in the shops, I was looking for the wrong title! That’s so annoying and the US cover is far nicer too. I don’t mind covers changing, that’s minor enough but not the name! Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is another one with different titles.

    • Oops, yeah, know hopefully you’ll be able to find The Gathering Dark! Yeah, if I was a blogger when the HP books were coming out, I probably would have thought that there were new ones when there weren’t D:

  4. Oh wow! I get them changing the books that are in different languages, but the ones in English… WHY?? You can’t even tell that those are the same books, like, AT ALL. That’s insane. It’s not like they’re being written in another language! I don’t understand why they don’t just keep them the same.

    • I know right?? Apparently some marketing person thought it would be a good idea, but I definitely don’t understand the reasoning ;-)

  5. Alright, so I didn’t know that they changed the title of books, I knew they changed covers and sometimes I’m okay with it, especially when I like the UK cover better (like with Throne of Glass). I never knew that The Gathering Dark was Shadow and Bone… weird, guess I’ll have to watch out for this in the future!

  6. Yeah! The instant I read this post’s title, The Gathering Dark came to mind. For a long time, I had no idea it was just the UK version of Shadow and Bone. I kept seeing the cover and getting all excited and then realizing I’d already read that book. Why DO they do that?!

  7. I was listening to an interview with Jacqueline Carey and how her books have been translated around the world. There is even a manga based on her book Kushiel’s Dart – whose female lead is a brunette. However, on the cover the Japanese publishers went with a blonde. Hmmm….I think even the author’s get a little frustrated sometimes by the liberties taken by foreign publishers.

    • Haha, I bet authors get frustrated with the liberties taken with the covers even in the US! Half the time the scenes on the cover never happen in the book :(

  8. I had the same issue with Shadow and Bone at first! The same also happened with Brenna Yovanoff’s The Space Between. It’s got a different title in the UK (can’t remember what it is right now) and I thought it was a sequel at first.
    Most of the time I don’t really understand the title change, to be honest. Though sometimes it’s because it references an event/custom/pop-culture reference that only works within a certain cultural context. I think sometimes the actual text is also re-worked in terms of spelling and vocabulary that is typical for the US/UK but I don’t know any details about that…

    • Oh yeah, a sequel would be a completely legitimate interpretation! Yeah, I bet color is changed to colour and all that ;-) But I agree that most of the time I don’t think a title change really makes any sense

  9. I like the black and red Shadow and Bone cover!

  10. I don’t have any insight to add, but I think you make a good point. It would especially be frustrating if one was the fan of a particular author, say, and bought both books thinking they were two different things. At the very least, you’d think the international title would have a disclaimer about what the original title was or something.


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