Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: British books in US

From: Jess Nevins (
Date: 07 Apr 2001

Kevin Burton Smith wrote:

> Dick wrote:
> >Kevin's comment about the lack of US publisher interest in UK doesn't quite
> >gibe with my observation. Ignoring the obvious US "imports," from Harry
> >Potter to Ian Rankin, I think both St. Martin's and Walker publish more
> >British crime titles than American titles. Scribner publishes, last time I
> >looked, a healthy lineup of British titles from folks like Barnard and
> >Brett. Same with Mysterious Press. Certainly, if any book makes money in
> >England (McDermid, Robinson et al), it winds up at an American publisher. If
> >the point was that some very good noir titles are overlooked, I wouldn't
> >argue against that one. But it probably means they weren't of noticeable
> >"financial" success at home.
> Well, I guess I should have specified hard-boiled fiction (always a
> niche market), but I'm happy to be proven wrong if that means
> there'll be more HB fiction from the U.K. available in affordable
> mass market editions, instead of pricey yuppiebacks, on this side of
> the pond. As I said before, I hadn't really been to a decent-sized
> American bookstore in a while, and I should have made it more clear
> that I was thinking more along the lines of writers like Ken Bruen,
> Mark Timlin, Irvine Welsh and the like. And sometimes it's not even
> British authors. I bought several of George's early books as British
> editions, because, as far as I could tell, there just weren't any
> U.S. editions available.

Welsh, at least, gets published over here fairly rapidly, although that might have only started with TRAINSPOTTING.

It took American publishers a shockingly long time to tout Terry Pratchett's work the way it deserved.

> And Anthony chimed in with:
> >Come on guys, let's be fair ... it takes a while to get them translated
> >before they can be published. ;)
> And all the big words taken out?
> But seriously, do they still do that? Sometimes I think they don't
> edit books at all. But do they really still go through an entire book
> changing tyre to tire, colour to color and boot to trunk, just so
> American readers don't get confused. Or the other way around? I

I know that with the first three Harry Potter books they did that
(although the age of the intended audience might have had something to do with it). I think they also did it with the fourth book, too.


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