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Zombie Doppelganger

April 10th, 2011

I got an email the other day, trying to set up an interview about Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us. Shortly afterwards there was a cancellation – they actually wanted the author of Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance, due to be released in May.

I’m well aware that there’s no copyright in book titles (Zombie Econ was originally going to be called “Dead Ideas from New Economists, and back in the 90s I wrote one which the publisher insisted on calling Great Expectations), but I can’t help wondering about the implications for sales. At least for the moment they don’t look too bad. According to Amazon, 12 per cent of people who viewed the doppelganger ultimately bought my book, while the proportion going the other way is zero (although some zombie fans go for Chris Harman’s Zombie Capitalism). But I imagine that’s the result of bad search results among people looking for mine, rather than a spillover from those looking for the doppelganger. If so, I imagine the flow will reverse when the new one is released.

Are there other interesting examples of book title recycling, or interesting ideas for new takes on classic titles?

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  1. antipollyanna
    April 10th, 2011 at 21:44 | #1

    I think beyond the first two words, the titles and blurbs show they are in totally different subsections of economics. I would have thought someone is either on the search for a personal finance, wealth creation/management book, or they are looking for an ideas book on the economy/financial crisis/policy. So I wouldn’t expect there to be too many switching horses in mid-stream. Further, a simple search reveals, over the last few years tons of books, movies and products have been playing on the popularity of zombies. Don’t get too upset someone else wore the same dress to the prom.

  2. Freelander
    April 10th, 2011 at 21:47 | #2

    I don’t think it will hurt your sales, with any luck it could boost them. Looks like they are planning a serious marketing effort including targeting blogs. All it would take to lever that is for someone to do a search of the blogs, and where they start a discussion have someone say, “Well, of course, its not as good as…”.


  3. Alice
    April 11th, 2011 at 05:31 | #3

    Trust a finance person to rip off your book title Prof. Why am I not surprised?

  4. Ernestine Gross
    April 11th, 2011 at 11:46 | #4

    Could be the beginning of a vulgar postmodernist Zombie Economics publication program (to prove your point ?).

  5. D Mick Weir
    April 11th, 2011 at 14:19 | #5

    Not quite on topic but Ad Astra at The Political Sword offers some advice:
    Joe Hockey should read John Quiggin’s ‘Zombie Economics’

  6. April 14th, 2011 at 16:03 | #6

    > Great Expectations

    Reminds me of the proposed alternative titles for Freakonomics: Unconventional Wisdom; Ain’t Necessarily So; E-Ray Vision.

    I think someone (not me) could write a humorous list of terrible book titles. “Goedel Escher Bach” –> “The Connections Between Mathematics, Art, and Music”. Etc.

  7. Freelander
    April 14th, 2011 at 19:08 | #7

    What’s wrong with “Gödel, Escher, Bach”?

  8. John
    April 21st, 2011 at 13:19 | #8

    Don’t be such a bitch. Their book is probably better anyway.

  9. Freelander
    April 21st, 2011 at 18:27 | #9


    Que? …. A drive by troll? And unintentionally reflexive.

  10. Alice
    April 21st, 2011 at 20:25 | #10

    definietely a drive by troll that needa traffic fine.

  11. Alice
    April 21st, 2011 at 20:28 | #11

    Freelander – definitiely a drive by troll. Hanng him to a lamp post and put his electricity bill up.

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