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Book titles lost in the Internet crowd

FreakonomicsPhilip Hensher writes in today’s Independent about book titles and how certain titles are recycled. He’s not kidding! There are times when I’m researching something on AbeBooks.com and I will search for a book and be presented with countless results from various authors who all used the identical book title. Philip writes recycling book names is fine but, in reality, it’s very bad because it makes the book harder to find on the Internet.

I’ve considered this before. The ideal book title for the Internet age is Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. This title is excellent because…
1) It’s a single word;
2) It’s a unique, fabricated word.

Search for Freakonomics and you will only get book listings, news articles about the book and its authors, and a blog by the authors. It’s a wonderful name for today’s book world.

By using common words – such as midnight, love, tiger, dawn and nation – in a title, your book is just one within a crowd and will appear in search results along with many other completely unrelated books. A book’s findability can be made much worse if the author has a common name. Salman Rushdie has a good name for Internet searching but any writer who has a last name of King should consider a name change.

If a book isn’t easily findable through the search engines and the major bookselling sites, and if content (eg book reviews, author interviews, author background) about the book is also hard to locate on the Web, then your book is dead in the water.

Increasingly, I see many very long book titles such as Sausages: How They Shaped the World’s Cuisine. Not a good idea – too many opportunities for mistakes when typing in what you think is the book’s name.

Authors/publishers – make your book title short and unique. I would advise spending a long time on the Internet ‘testing’ names on the search engines before committing a title to your printer.

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