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I am publishing a book with an American publisher. My contract allows me to make a separate contract with one particular foreign publisher for a translation in his language. That foreign publisher wants to reverse the title and subtitle in the translation. I support that idea. Two questions. Is this legal? Do I need to get permission from my American publisher for this switch?

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It's very common to change titles with new editions of a book.

Obviously, the title will be translated to a non-English language with this new publisher. When translating, it's common to change the order of words as well.

Sometimes titles change in different editions for the same language. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone changed to Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone when moving from the original British edition to the American one. The Psychology of Everyday Things changed to The Design of Everyday Things when going from a hardback to a paperback within the U.S.

If you're worried, the best action is to ask your original publisher. Or you could simply drop them a line saying "[Publisher] plans to release an edition in [language] by approximately [date] with the title [title]." If they say "thanks for letting us know" you're good. If they have an objection, they'll tell you.

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That depends on what the legal wording of "allows me to make a separate contract with one particular foreign publisher" entails.

Do YOU make that contract, legally moslty independent with the foreign publisher? Or is your US Publisher still involved in that contract?

[Also I would just call my person from the US publisher and ask them, since it sounds like they have absolutely no problem with this new foreign publisher / actively allowed it]

  • Thank you for your input. Helpful. My contract with my American publisher made an exception for foreign rights for one country with whom I had already started negotiations. So that translation contract is between me and the foreign publisher. – emeritusprof Feb 23 at 13:09

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