Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Reading matters

Writers in the genres I favour are skilled in confusing their readers with plots which twist and turn. Gayle Lynds, it turns out, confuses in other ways, too.

I grabbed The Library Of Gold in haste on a day when I was running late for almost everything. I reckoned it would be an okay treasure quest yarn, with the usual subterranean passages (double entendre intentional), perilous incarcerations and protagonists inevitably calling up the likenesses of the hot Hollywood stars of the moment.

It turned out to be better than I had anticipated with much intriguing speculation - and some informative author's notes - about what might have become of a fabled collection of books and ancient manuscripts which was once the pride of Ivan the Terrible.

I finished the book last night and thus repaired once again to the Munich branch of the Hugendubel chain with its very wide range of English language titles.

What appeared to be another book my Ms Lynds caught my eye, The Book Of Spies. And for a moment I considered staying with this author for another diverting transcontinental hunt for yet another MacGuffin of unspeakable value... However I quickly confirmed that this was exactly the same book but given an entirely different title by its British publisher.

My conclusion after reflection on this state of affairs is that the American original edition - The Book Of Spies - cannot have sold very well under that title, even with the claim that it was the work of a 'New York Times bestselling author'. For otherwise it would have been folly to submit the product to this kind of re-branding. And so the Brits give it a new name and demonstrate a kind of desperation with sycophantic promotional blurbs supplied by James Patterson, Clive Cussler, Jeffery Deaver, Sue Grafton and Dean Koontz - the usual suspects, as it were. Corvus Books went further and opted for a cover design with clear allusions to the Dan Brown oeuvre and chose to use typography which manages to be banal and overwrought at one and the same time.

What a bizarre business it is, publishing. Should I give my Kindle edition of Golden Dawn a new title? Should I set the title in Comic Sans? Or shall I simply reduce the price to 99 Cents?

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