Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cover story

A few years ago, in a bookstore, I saw a new paperback book about writing.

The author, a well-known writer whom I'd seen in person and whom I knew to be a good guy, had previously written a book about writing that I'd bought in hardcover and liked.

So I snapped up the paperback, got it home and -- you guessed it -- discovered it was the same book, with the original title mentioned (and not too conspicuously) on an inside page.

I suppose I should have taken the book back and asked for a refund, but I chalked it up to experience (does anything ever get "chalked down" to something else?) and I now figure that someday I'll give the book to another aspiring writer.

But this week the same thing darn near happened.

Different writer, but same subject -- writing. I looked at the hardcover in the store and even looked it up on my ebook reader.

(And by the way, have you noticed that traditional publishers are now being called legacy publishers? Or am I misunderstanding that term? Then again, I don't want to run too late here, as it's now well past 1 a.m. according to my analog watch.)

The only thing that tipped me off that it was the same book was when I realized -- on further inspection of the hardcover -- that it had the same famous-author blurb.

Of course, authors and publishers have a perfect right to call a book whatever they want to call it, from edition to edition, from format to format.

And this sort of thing has been done for years. A number of Agatha Christie's books have been known by more than one title. But I think in Christie's case, whenever a book is retitled, the original title is, in at least many cases, noted on the cover.

I'm not sure why authors and titles keep doing this. Or is it the doing of some graphic designer who thinks the extra type would make the cover "too busy"?

But by burying the original titles, legacy publishers -- and their authors -- aren't doing themselves (let alone you and me) any favor.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Memo to The Amazing Spider-Man:

In Saturday's installment of your comic strip, you're confronting Serra Carson, who has secretly been framing you.

"I must know -- what made you suspect me?" she says.

"You insisted I was innocent despite all the evidence against me!" you reply. "And when something seems too good to be true -- it usually isn't!"

Um, sorry to break it to you, O great web slinger, but methinks you're saying the opposite of what you really mean -- namely that if something seems too good to be true, it is too good to be true.

Best wishes,
Your friendly neighborhood Syntax-Man