With a few online searches I found

  • Nelson's complaint about long book titles and the trend to use colons,
  • Kottke's list of reworked titles (then: The Grapes of Wrath, now: California Dreamin': Traveling Cheap in the Middle of an Economic Downturn),
  • Rados' rant and descriptive [Punchy Book Title] [COLON] [Incredibly Long Subtitle of What The Book's About, in Case the Reader Doesn't Get Our Pun],
  • Rosenthal's request to "kill the colon!", etc.

What's missing is a succinct word describing the technique of using title-colon-subtitle (not just that a book is subtitled, but in an excessive/irritating fashion). "Colon-ized" is the first thing that came to mind, but isn't very good. Is there a better existing word, or one you wish to coin (eg, title-rrhea)?

  • 1
    I don't think this is a "trend" at all, since that implies something on the increase. There's Thackeray's 1847 Vanity Fair: A Novel Without a Hero, and Hardy's 1886 The Mayor of Casterbridge:The Life and Death of a Man of Character. These are relatively well-preserved subtitles, but probably lots of others got quietly dropped when the primary title become well enough known (or the book itself sank into obscurity). I don't see why it should be considered "irritating" either. It's a useful clue to the nature of the book. – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '11 at 21:02
  • The question's regarding style, whether or not there's a trend. However, browsing stores nowadays definitely gives me the impression there's more title-rrhea now than 10 + 20 years ago (not sure what it was like in 1847 or 1886). The archived bestseller lists usually don't make clear what are descriptions + what are subtitles, so quantifying any trend isn't easy. In any case, stuff like "I, Sniper: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel (Bob Lee Swagger Novels)" is definitely excessive/irritating. For any book with TITLE:SUBTITLE, I find TITLE or SUBTITLE (if not too long) alone would usually be sufficient. – Witness Protection ID 44583292 Sep 10 '11 at 18:48

Subtitled: The problem to me seems to be, not the colon itself, but rather the subtitle being an integral part of the title.

  • +1 for beating me to it! Linked commentators notwithstanding, I'm not sure that it's really a problem. It's just different. Considering that about 33 new titles are published every hour in the US, descriptive subtitles may just be a marketing necessity. – Caleb Sep 9 '11 at 20:36
  • The question was not just that a subtitle is used, but used in an excessive/irritating fashion. – Witness Protection ID 44583292 Sep 10 '11 at 18:33
  • Mike, I realize that it's not exactly what the OP asked for, but I am also fairly sure that there is no such word in the English language, and this forum is not really for coming up with new coinages, especially cute ones...having said that, couldn't this whole question be considered an example of colonoscopy? – JeffSahol Sep 12 '11 at 13:25

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