When HarperCollins publishes the memoir of a Rutgers University football player who was paralyzed in a fourth-quarter tackle, it’s doing so with two different titles targeting two different audiences.
“Believe” by Eric LeGrand is being simultaneously published this week with twin titles -- one for adults with the subhead “My Faith and the Tackle That Changed My Life,” and another for middle-grade readers, subtitled “The Victorious Story of Eric LeGrand.”
The two books are part of a growing trend among publishers that are either simultaneously releasing different versions of the same book on the same day or capitalizing on the success of an adult bestseller with a young-reader edition issued a few months after the original.
In recent years, Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation,” James L. Swanson’s “Manhunt” and Tim Tebow’s “Through My Eyes” have all been reissued in young-reader editions penned by the same author, only with fewer pages, larger type and smaller price tags.
“Sometimes the concepts for adult books might be a little bit above the head of an 8- or 9-year old,” said Lisa Sharkey, senior vice president and director of creative development for HarperCollins Worldwide in New York, publisher of the LeGrand books and, last month, an autobiography of soccer player Hope Solo that was published in an adult and young-reader version on the same day with slightly different titles, cover images and formatting.
“Especially if the author is young, the readership is going to be that much younger. With Tim Tebow, what we found is you have so many kids who wanted to read his book, but it was a little too difficult, so after the fact we decided to do an edition for kids,” Sharkey said. “Doing it at the same time is an opportunity for families to read together.”
In the case of the bestselling autobiography of a Navy SEAL, “The Heart and the First,” by Eric Greitens, it was the author’s experiences fielding repeated requests for a teen version of his book that led to “The Warrior’s Heart,” a young-adult version of the book that Houghton Mifflin will publish next month.
“This is not something we do very often,” said Betsy Groban, senior vice president and publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group in Boston which, in 2006, published “Chew on This,” the young-reader version of “Fast Food Nation.” “With Eric Greitens, it just seemed like kids of a certain age could read his book, but there was a way we could adapt it so the book would speak directly to teen readers. There are Navy SEAL books, but speaking to kids about it is so unique.”