I am reading a novel the copy of which was bought and published in the US, but the novel was written and copyrighted by a British author and first published in the UK.*

Apart from the apparent changes in orthography (candour->candor), a couple of lines in the book left me wondering how heavy the editing process actually was. On reflection, it may have been nil, but it did plant the doubt.

My question is whether there is a typical, default approach to the situation (another publishing house, but without translation into another language), and, consequently, a rule of thumb for me of what to expect when meeting such a text.

I will add that this is just a point of curiosity. I have no reason to expect one edition to be "better" or "more original" than another.

* The book is John Le Carré, The Night Manager, copyrighted in 1993 by David Cornwell, published by Ballantine Books, imprint of Random House (originally published in the US in 1993).

  • 2
    I work for a publisher, but we publish non-fiction and therefore leave regional differences alone. I've often wondered myself exactly what the editing/publishing process for fiction across the Pond tends to comprise.
    – Janus Bahs Jacquet
    Oct 29, 2016 at 21:07
  • 1
    The Harry Potter Philosopher's / Sorcerer's Stone switch is a classic example.
    – Edwin Ashworth
    Oct 29, 2016 at 21:38
  • @BladorthinTheGrey Apparently, it was felt that the compound Philosopher's Stone was not sufficiently well known in the States. See here at SciFiSE
    – Edwin Ashworth
    Oct 29, 2016 at 23:01
  • But I think most books for adults are not edited very much. Oct 30, 2016 at 2:05
  • 4
    @PeterShor Au contraire: theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/10/…
    – user5645
    Oct 30, 2016 at 9:32

1 Answer 1


I know this was asked out of simple curiosity, but there are deeper implications to your question than might be initially apparent. The difference between these manuscripts are meant to reflect the differences in the cultures they are being marketed to. The same rough draft is sent through a review process by two different editors, a UK editor, and a US editor. While the changes shouldn't be that extensive, future sociologists could look back on those differences, and examine the slight (or even significant) differences between the US culture of this era, and the UK culture of this era. Imagine what a UK version of Uncle Tom's Cabin would be like if it were prepared today for publication in the UK, and how different that version would be from a version prepared at the time the book was originally published, and you'll have an idea of the kinds of differences I mean.

  • Just to be clear, I don't know if a UK version of Uncle Tom's Cabin has ever been produced or edited for publication. I just offer it as an example.
    – Cadence
    Nov 29, 2016 at 23:34

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