Investigated – Foreign Editions

Posted November 24, 2014 by Emily in Investigated / 3 Comments


I’ve always been interested in international and foreign editions of books. I think it just has something to everything that changes.


I think the cover is one of the most noticeable changes. You can pretty much tell if a book is a foreign edition by it’s cover. It’s always interesting to see how the cover changes from country to country. Why not use the same cover? I’m just going on a whim that when books are sold to foreign publishers (I’m assuming this happens if the original publisher does not have a branch in that country, correct me if I’m wrong) the rights to the cover don’t transfer over with the content? I don’t know. But I always get so jealous when looking at foreign editions because sometimes I like the cover of book in a foreign country better than the US one. And then it’s like “Why couldn’t they have used that cover here?”


This is another thing that comes with foreign editions. It has always bothered interested me why Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone everywhere else. I guess each book market in each country is different? I know of some other books that have different names but those are from other languages to English and were changed so the meaning of the word in the other language could be fully expressed in English…


Speaking of translation… My mom used to read the Chinese version of American published picture books when I was a kid. And then I would read the English version when I became skilled enough. I do think some things are lost in the translation but most of the things are generally the same. But then again, those were picture books…


I’m always a bit curious about this one. I generally read books that are originally published in the US and thus have a very very limited experience with foreign editions. Right now, the only one I can think of is Harry Potter. My question is do you think some of the cultural things that are specific to a certain country or region are edited so people not of those cultures can better understand? I just don’t remember thinking anything in Harry Potter was unusual and vastly different from the American culture I experience everyday… then again, I could have just associated that with the wizarding world… Please note that I have not read the original UK version of any of the HP books… only the American ones.

What do you think?
How do you feel about foreign editions?
Do you think things like meaning and culture get lost in the translation?
Which edition do you prefer?



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3 responses to “Investigated – Foreign Editions

  1. As I live in the Netherlands I can often observe the difference between the UK/US version and the dutch version. For example the Harry Potter covers have a totally different flavour here, while the title translations are pretty spot on, although for other books there’s usually some different. I think the difference in cover and title is also adapted to what sells in that country. The names of the characters are usually translated as well, Professor Dumbledore is “Perkamentus” in dutch which translates like parchmentus. I read Harry Potter in dutch and would love to read the english version ones eventually.
    Another exmaple is divergent, which is translated as “Inwijding” which would be closer to Initiation. It still fits the book I guess, but it has a different feel. I think it’s really interesting to see how a book changed with different translations and sometimes I wodner if it also loses a bit fo the feel of the original book.

    Lola recently posted: Sunday Post #102
    • Foreign editions and the changes they go through have always fascinated me. While I get why books are changed to fit the market in different countries, I’m curious, does the culture change as well? Does anything besides names and packaging change? I have a weird question. In the Dutch edition, do you know if the food mentioned in HP represent the food in the Netherlands more than the food in UK/US?

      Thanks for stopping by Lola! 🙂