Same Book, But Different

There’s an interesting post at The Readventurer about the significant differences between the North American and Australian editions of Cath Crowley’s YA novel, Graffiti Moon*. The reviewer, who has read both editions, concludes that the American version “felt a bit…sanitized, which I didn’t like.”

Interesting. Especially as there didn’t seem to be anything particularly edgy or controversial in the Australian edition of Graffiti Moon, as I recall.

American publishers do tend to change spelling and punctuation when they publish Australian YA books, and they also change any vocabulary that might prove confusing to American teenage readers. I remember reading the American editions of some YA novels by Barry Jonsberg and Melina Marchetta, in which the settings were clearly Darwin or the inner western suburbs of Sydney – yet the characters talked about ‘dimes’ and ‘sidewalks’. Even J.K. Rowling’s first book was subjected to Americanisation, with her American publishers making more than eighty changes to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, including the title. (And some of the changes seem pretty silly to me – surely American readers could work out that ‘multi-storey car park’ means the same as ‘multilevel parking garage’.)

For the record, the North American edition of A Brief History of Montmaray is very different to the Australian edition. Apart from a much-needed structural edit (for example, I completely re-wrote the final chapter), I spent a lot of time wrangling with my American copy-editor over words such as ‘biscuit’ and ‘jersey’. This was complicated by the fact that my narrator spoke a posh 1930s British version of English. But The FitzOsbornes in Exile and The FitzOsbornes at War are pretty much the same (apart from the spelling), wherever you buy a copy in the world. Maybe my American editors figured that readers who’d made it through the first book in the series would be able to cope with the characters eating ‘biscuits’ rather than ‘cookies’, and using ‘torches’ rather than ‘flashlights’, and so on. Or maybe my editors just got tired of arguing with me.

*Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for the link to the Graffiti Moon discussion.