I do realize that many authors do not have control over what title is stuck on their books (by the look of it by bored editors who think readers don’t care about these things), and my heart goes out to them when I see a particularly unoriginal or over-recycled title. So don‘t take this little rant of mine as criticism of authors (like someone did when I originally posted about this subject on my original 52 books blog, nearly 10 years ago).
This is what I wrote back then:
I conducted a bit of accidental research into the subject of recycled titles with a book I came across in the library a couple of weeks ago. I had read a favourable review of a novel titled The Devil’s Bargain, but could only remember the title. I found the title in the library and took the book home to read. Just in case, I re-checked the review, but discovered the book in the review was by a different author from the one I had found. So I turned to Amazon UK, where I have often been able to find reviews of books I want to read. Well, I found no fewer than eight books with that title, three with and five without the definite article. An additional book had the phrase as part of the title, and another one a variation on the theme. Of the ten books, eight were romances, mostly historicals, and the remaining two looked as if they had romantic elements in them. Now, it’s one thing for several different publishing houses to publish books with the same title. After all, they can’t be expected to be constantly checking up on the competition, but in this case two well known publishing houses had each published two of these Devil’s Bargains. Duh!
Would you believe it happened to me twice in the same day? Yep, there are three books about errant earls out there, all of them Regency romances. England must have been full of dazed and confused earls back in those days.
This hasn‘t changed. There is an ongoing discussion about this on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog, and here is an article about the subject from the (now sadly defunct) romance newsletter At the Back Fence.
Just for fun, I googled The Devil's Bargain and variations on the theme and came up with the following in the romance category alone:
With a definite article:
Without an article: