What Should the Subtitle Be?

Here's something to do instead of working on a Friday afternoon – help me come up with a good subtitle for my book! Up till now, the book I've been laboring over has had this title/subtitle combo: The Search: Business and Culture in the Age of Google A week…

BookHere’s something to do instead of working on a Friday afternoon – help me come up with a good subtitle for my book!

Up till now, the book I’ve been laboring over has had this title/subtitle combo:

The Search: Business and Culture in the Age of Google

A week or so ago the marketing team at my publisher came to life and informed me that this subtitle, while not exactly terrible, didn’t really say much – it didn’t *sell* the book, it didn’t declare how big a deal this search thing really is. Not to mention, it didn’t say anything about money, or inside access, or any of the other things which seem to sell books these days.

Now, I’ve been on this planet too long to throw a tantrum and declare that it’s my way or the highway when it comes to subtitles. Long ago, for example, I stopped expecting that the headlines on a magazine’s cover were really about the stories inside – no, they are about selling the stories inside, and that is an important distinction.

OK, so in the book, there’s a lot of stuff that has not been reported anywhere else (so far anyway). This is, in the main, because no one else was insane enough to care as much as I have, nor to interview the hundreds of people I interviewed over the past 18 months. And it’s also true that there is a fair bit of narrative about how big a deal search is in terms of economic impact – from the Google IPO to the entire Search Economy in general.

In any case, from what I can divine, there are a few words or concepts that any normal publisher might want included in the subhead of The Search.

1. Google. Most publishers would probably want the book to be called “Google: Google Google Google Money Sex Google” – but thankfully my Editor is more enlightened than most.

2. Money. As in, lots of it at risk, being made, exchanging hands.

3. Inside Access. As in – this book tells a story no one else has.

But when I saw the marketing team’s first try at a new subhead – “The Quest for Perfect Knowledge and Infinite Wealth in the Age of Google” – I thought to myself – surely we can do better. I mean – Infinite Wealth? (“Big Bucks” was also tossed around….) So I asked if I could turn it over to you guys (understand that when it comes to titles and covers, publishers tend to get pretty territorial). And proving that even New York publishers can swing with the times, they said “Why not?”

So what do you think a good subtitle would be?

100 thoughts on “What Should the Subtitle Be?”

  1. If Google is the answer, what is the question? How online searching is changing our quest for knowledge and wealth.

  2. My two cents:

    The Google Effect: $earch and Ye $hall Find

    The Search: Geeks, Guts, and Glory

    The Search: Life After Google

    and, of course…

    Search: The New Battelle Ground

  3. How about…

    The Search: Millions of websites. Millions of dollars. Milliseconds to Google it all.


    The Search: You want it. Google can find it. In between is a billion dollar industry.

    Or maybe just…

    The Search: Great Googly Moogly

  4. It’s amazing to me some of the almost supernatural, god-like qualities people here ascribe to Google; it’s as if folks want to find something more in Google than is there.

    Whether or not Google had come along, we’d all be searching on search engines, and in my opinion paid search as a business model would be roughly at the same place it is today.

  5. I have to agree with those who suggest that “the search” might be off as well. It is just slightly off the mark.

    I’d move towards something like

    The search for gold: inside Google and the birth of a new industry

    It does three things:
    (1) has a much more appropriate play on “search”
    (2) is loaded with key terms (are we search optimizing this??) and ideas
    (3) introduces a concept I don’t think you have but that I find most interesting: the birth of a new industry. Search has literally gone from zero to billions in just a few short years. How did that happen? I find this to be the really compelling question/story.

  6. The Search Economy: Everything you need to know about doing business in the age of Google.

    That might not be “exclusive bleeding edge secrets!” enough. Perhaps, “The Google Economy: Doing business on the front lines of search.”

    Alternately, I can’t believe no one is voting for “Google: Google Google Google Money Sex Google.”

  7. How about:

    The Search – The Untold Story of What’s Behind Google.


    The Search – An insiders account on all things Google


    The Search – The inside scoop turned out.


    The Search – The story of Google from the inside looking out.

    good luck

  8. John,

    I just read your post on the Database of Intentions. If that is a central thesis of the book then I have added some new titles:

    The Search: Mining Human Intentions and the Rise of Google

    The Search: Googling Humanity

    The Search: Googling The Collective Human Mind

    The Search: Googling The Global Brain

    The Search: Googling the Human Mind

    The Search: Googling Human Consciousness

    The Search: The Rise Google and the Collective Mind

    The Search: The Database of Intentions and Rise of Google



  9. Depending on your state of mind:-

    Google@work: The bottomless pit of useless information

    So little time, so much to find

    Fuel for the informationsociety / knowledge economy

    To finally know what you know you don’t know.

  10. The Search: Finding your way on the Web produces Google Gold.
    The Search: Google’s Web Gold Rush!
    The Search: How Google lit your way and won the web.
    The Search: How Google lit the web!
    The Search: How Google Tamed the Wild Vast Web!
    The Search: The Google Engine that could.
    The Search: Googles Weapon of Mass Findings. πŸ˜‰
    The Search: It’s not over ’till the Google Engine Sings!

  11. The Search: The inside story of how billions were made and lost overnight in the new Google era.

    The Search: Billions of searches, billions of dollars.

  12. I just wanted to say, as a likely purchaser of the book, that your suggested subtitle speaks to me. It doesn’t over sell, which is a plus in my book. I like modest books from authors who don’t boast. Take this as ammunition for your publisher if you like.

  13. Ah, the magnetic title must only hint at the contents, so as to make a prospective reader click through / pick up the tome.
    “Search” is a great word to get into the buzzstream as a new part of our lexicon.

    Search: Gems, Geegaws and Googling Immortality

    Search: Business, Culture and Googling Immortality

    Search: Wealth, Culture and Googling Immortality

    Thanks! That was fun!

  14. Electric Googleoo

    Also, to have a book on search but be unable to find a title seems a little ironic. Or perhaps it’s a self-commentary on the state of search.

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