Titles and confusing series

*The following is a rant that will eventually get to books

The trailers for the movie Fast 5 started a discussion about sequels and how ridiculous they are getting, and ended with my boyfriend saying he had never seen the first film. I remember liking the first one in high school and he’s always complaining we don’t watch enough action movies anymore so I borrowed it from the library. Or so I thought.

For the first 10 minutes of the movie I kept saying, “I don’t remember any of this!” or “omg they killed her off, what kind of director’s cut is this!”  until finally I paused the movie and went imdb.com to discover that Fast & Furious is a sequel, and I wasn’t wrong to be saying The Fast & The Furious when I talked about the first movie, because that is the real title.

So the difference between the two titles in the series is “The”. Does the movie studio really think it’s wise to make two titles so similar? How many people have accidentally picked up the wrong movie? Especially because no where on the cover (maybe hidden by the library barcode) does it say that it’s a sequel, unless you count “new model: original parts” which I took to mean a special edition.

Do you get confused with books about which one comes first sometimes? I find library catalogs are terrible for this. In several libraries I’ve worked at or frequented I’ve requested better results when you click on series but it’s never in order. This is a software problem, where the library does not have control of how things are displayed but this is such a major issue that I think it should be something we demand from software companies. We should be able to dictate the order of our results based on the series field when it’s filled in by our cataloging staff.

Another problem with series books is shelving. If your books are in alphabetical order a series with numerous authors gets very confusing, scattered throughout the whole alphabet. I recently separated some series from my collection and had them put on end caps to make it easier to navigate. Even then, they aren’t put in numerical order because we don’t have the staff time to dedicate to this. They are stuck with their series and the patron is left to navigate the books or come ask the person at the information desk who will have to figure out what book to look for and then try to find it on the disordered shelf. The thing is that to have all the books in the order I’d like them in we would need pages for more than a couple hours a day, and funding is going down, not up.

So with a catalogue and a shelving system that are less than ideal, how do you find the next book in your series?

  • Sometimes at the end of the book it will tell you what’s coming next, but not always if it wasn’t published yet
  • I used to go to author websites, but many of them have confusing timelines as well
  • My go-to source recently has been Goodreads.com and it has never steered me wrong, but it has the potential to because you can add books and anywhere where the public can add information makes it questionable. There could be things added as pranks, or errors. I like the guidelines they set out, and they do have a manual, but I’m unclear on what their monitoring process is, so it may be a while before errors are noted.

Where do you find what book to read next in a series?

Another way to distinguish a book is the ISBN. That helps differentiate books with the same title, to make sure you have the version, edition or whatever you need.


3 thoughts on “Titles and confusing series

  1. Hi Steph,

    These are my go-to sources:

    1. Wikipedia – I love the simplicity that most lists have.
    2. KDL’s What’s Next Database – (http://ww2.kdl.org/libcat/whatsnext.asp) – not as good as the earlier version as all I want it a simple/straighforward list of titles in the series
    3. FictFact (http://www.fictfact.com/index.aspx) – my new favourite!! Once you register and add some series to your profile, they will actually email you when new books are released!

    Hope that helps!


  2. Oh my gosh (the) Fast & (the) Furious totally confused me too! It reminds me of Die Hard, I just call it Die Hard 1/2/3/4, but they have like “Live Free or DIe Hard” or whatever.
    I know what you mean by series, I wish they would list the series on the back cover too! Like at the library and I’m picking up a book that looks good then when I get home I realize it’s #3 in a series, which then sucks 😦 I count a lot on goodreads too.

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