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Why all the long book titles?

The internet is at fault for the tsunami of obtusely long book titles that are washing onto our literary shores. The premise is that publishers wish to optimize their book titles for search engine results and so they are jamming as many key words into a title as they can, which means lots of colons and subtext.

The Guardian uses Clive Ponting’s Armageddon: The Reality Behind the Distortions, Myths, Lies and Illusion of World War II as an example of this practice but personally I think Fleeced: How Barack Obama, Media Mockery of Terrorist Threats, Liberals Who Want to Kill Talk Radio, the Do-Nothing Congress, Companies That Help Iran, and Washington Lobbyists for Foreign Governments Are Scamming Us … and What to Do About It by Dick Morris takes the cake. The title is so long I almost feel is if I don’t need to read the book anymore.

God forbid we start renaming the classics…

You can forgive Herman Melville for adding “or, The Whale”, to Moby Dick, since, firstly it has no colon, and secondly, when he published it no one would have had a clue what it was all about. However, Moby Dick: How Ishmael Lost His Shipmates and Found His Soul While Chasing Jungian Archetypes Around the Globe and Carrying Out Experimental Marine Mammal Research, does not really cut the wasabi for the sushi.

Posted by on August 22, 2008.

Categories: books, internet, odd, publishers, web

2 Responses

  1. I’m searching the Web for an answer about book titles and I hope you can help me. In book titles with a semi colon that separates the first half from the second half, is there a technical word for the second half of a long title?

    I would be very interested. My email is wheelerplatsis[at]hotmail. com. Thanks.

    by WLindsayWheeler on Sep 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm

  2. The second half of the title after the colon is just called the sub-title. It’s a very common publishing style – click on this feature to see more examples – http://www.abebooks.com/books/tipping-point-how-title/malcolm-gladwell-non-fiction.shtml

    by Richard Davies on Sep 19, 2011 at 11:37 am

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