Harry Potter Transatlantic Editing Question (no spoilers)

Please no spoilers, because I’ve not yet read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (it’s on its way to Atlanta from Amazon.co.uk).

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly is all about Harry Potter, and among other things, it has interviews with Arthur A. Levine, J.K. Rowling’s American editor with Scholastic, and Cheryl Klein, Levine’s assistant.

Speaking of the editing process, Klein said of each manuscript:

That’s the Scholastic editors, not the Bloomsbury editors. But Bloomsbury is the books’ original publisher, and presumably the manuscript doesn’t cross the pond until Rowling and Bloomsbury have agreed on its final form for U.K. publication.

I would guess Scholastic would want to change all the car “hoods” to “bonnets” and all the “colours” and “humours” to “colors” and “humors,” but really, what more needs to be done to them that would justify a “rainbow” of color-coded corrections?

It could be as simple as each editor using a different color pencil or pen, so each person’s comments/marks can be easily distinguished. This is quite common in publishing.

You’ve missed my point, which is that the American edition of the book shouldn’t need any corrections, beyond changing the spelling to match American orthography (which it still shouldn’t need even in that case, but that’s a different thread).

The Bloomsbury people have already (I assume) worked with Rowling to make her original manuscript publishable.

I was puzzled by something else that I read in Newsweek. They had an article about editing the book, and the main fact / inconsistency checker (I forget the exact term they used) for Deathly Hallows seems to be based in New York working for Scholastic. There was a mention of her (the fact checker) travelling back to the US with the manuscript in a carry-on. Maybe, due to the size of the American market, Scholastic is now the one looking at the books first?

Yes, this is all in the Entertainment Weekly article the OP is refering to. It says that Cheryl Klein is the “continuity editor” whose job it has been to make sure there aren’t any continuity errors (in the last couple of books).

I suspect this is the correct explanation, but I don’t know for sure, and now that the question has been asked, I’m wondering too.

Wasn’t there something with the first book, changing “Sorcerer’s Stone” to “Philosopher’s Stone” (or the other way around)?

See for yourself. This site has a section (scroll down a bit) devoted to the differences between the UK and US editions. You can see for yourself what such differences entail.

Your’s hasn’t arrived yet? I got mine (to VA) from Amazon.co.uk on Thursday.

I don’t mind them changing the spelling, but I do mind them changing the words. I see no problem with American kids using a book to discover that football might mean something different ina different country, or that not all food is identical all over the world.

There was a problem with my pre-order. I should receive it today, tomorrow, or August 1st at the latest.

Exactly! I know that the Canadian editions have almost no differences from the UK editions, and Canadian kids, who are culturally almost identical to American kids, have no trouble dealing with it.

See NoPretentiousCodename’s link above. It’s fascinating stuff.

Yes, it’s Philosopher’s Stone in England and Sorcerer’s Stone in the USA. The American editor had suggested Harry Potter and the School of Magic.

At least they didn’t make it that lame!

My Royal Mail envelope showed up in WA on Thursday as well. (Read the book Friday.)

why in the heck WAS the title of the first book changed? The philosopher (Flanel), being a male, wasn’t even a sorceror. Were they afraid that philosophy in the title would make American kids run away, thinking it was education (certainly SCHOOL of magic would!)

From what I recall, fysoya, that’s more or less it… publishers thought that the US market wouldn’t understand the term “philosopher’s stone” and changed it to “sorceror”.

I heard that it was more the American publishers wanted to make it clear that it was a book about magic.

Sounds like a clever ruse to me. Offer up an absolutely awful title, and then JKR would accept any title they suggested after that.

I’m somewhat surprised that you don’t know about the differences between the American and the British editions. It seemed to me like every thread about Harry Potter ended up discussing the differences. Here are two recent examples of those threads:

Aside from changing words, there may be “style sheet” changes; e.g., single vs. double quotes; a, b, and c vs. a, b and c; how colons and semicolons are used; an historic vs a historic, etc.

It’s a silly change- the production of the Philosopher’s Stone was a primary intent of real-life alchemy, and Rowling deliberately draws on real-world myths in her books. I always assumed that her using the Philosopher’s Stone just showed that she’d done her research.

I haven’t read the article, but if Scholastic doesn’t also have editorial input on the primary manuscript (they shouldn’t, as you point out, but with a book this huge, they may require it), it may just be that a whole bunch of copy-editors at Scholastic are double-checking continuity and Americanization.

While it is unusual for a foreign publisher to have any input on the original manuscript, it’s not unusual to bring in many, many people to fact-check things (even folks not at the publisher). They may just have decided that some of the additional people that they wanted to do the fact-checking were the Scholastic editors.

We got ours from Canada. One change that I know of:

“Not so fast, Lugless” was changed to “Not so fast, Your Holeyness.”

Oh, and as I’ve been re-reading, I’ve caught at least one grammatical error in each of the last three books. I wonder if the American editor caught those? (One was a “we” that should have been “us,” and the other two were lie/lay errors.)