A title for my next book

by Russ Roberts on July 31, 2007

in Books

I’m finishing up my next book and I’m struggling with the title. Like my first two books, it’s a novel that conveys economic ideas. I’d like the title to convey something of the substance of the book, it should be easily remembered and it should look intriguing if you picked it up in the bookstore, heard about it from a friend or or heard it mentioned on the radio. It should also be somewhat easy to remember. Without knowing anything about the content, which of these titles grab you? You’ll have to imagine an evocative and attractive cover. Imagine hearing from a friend, "I’m reading this great book, it’s called ————" Which of these titles would you like to hear filling in the blank?

How Little We Know

The Price of Everything

Unscripted Life

The Silent Symphony

Silent Harmony

The Ties That Bind

Let it Grow

The Garden of Prosperity

The Poet of Prosperity

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{ 50 comments }

se7en July 31, 2007 at 3:15 pm

I like the "Garden of Prosperity" best from that list.

However, I think you're on to something with "The Price of Everything," but I don't think it sounds good or intriguing yet… If tweaked into something better, it could become my favorite.

Noah Yetter July 31, 2007 at 3:23 pm

"The Silent Symphony" sounds to me the most like the title of a novel

mike July 31, 2007 at 3:28 pm

The Poet of Prosperity is a little graniose, but Garden of Prosperity is good. I like Silent Symphony, too.

Kun Lung July 31, 2007 at 3:43 pm

I like The Silent Symphony.

Ed July 31, 2007 at 3:49 pm

Silent Harmony

Ed July 31, 2007 at 3:50 pm

Silent Harmony

LP July 31, 2007 at 3:53 pm

"The Ties That Bind" caught my attention even before I finished reading the post above. If it's relevant to the content, it would be a great title for a non-fiction economics book, but seems a bit pretentious for a novel. "The Price of Everything" is a good title for a novel.

brian July 31, 2007 at 3:54 pm

The Silent Symphony. definitely

Bret July 31, 2007 at 3:57 pm

Silent Harmony or The Silent Symphony.

Will Sam and Laura return in this one?

Person July 31, 2007 at 3:58 pm

I'd have to recommend "The Price of Everything". It's the one I'd pick if I chose based purely on the title. It shouts out, "I'm going to show you the price of everything!" It's also memorable — those terms sound unique together.

"How Little We Know" doesn't work well into sentences, and it comes off as being a hyper-skepticist track(t?).

A lot of the others sound, well, generic and bland — like they're really vague about what's interesting in the book.

Hope that makes sense.

tw July 31, 2007 at 4:00 pm

While my inner-Sinatra prefers "How Little We Know", of all the titles, I really like "The Price of Everything" the best (or maybe even just "The Price" a la "The Choice"?).

Rue Des Quatre Vents July 31, 2007 at 4:01 pm

The Ties that Bind or The Silent Symphony

scott clark July 31, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Knowing nothing about the content, though having some expectations based on the proposed titles given and what I know about you from your other works, I would submit the following:

The Prices that Bind
or slightly less preferred,
The Price that Binds

Most of the samples you give seem too kitchy, too cliche to stand out, in my opinion.

Acad Ronin July 31, 2007 at 4:10 pm

1) Silent Symphony (intriguing paradox)
2) Unscripted Life (but may sound too much like a biography)

Bruce G Charlton July 31, 2007 at 4:11 pm

The Price of Everything – its a superb title (bet it's already been used, but so what!)

shawn July 31, 2007 at 4:13 pm

Of those? Silent Symphony. I still think 'econporn' is a great word, though…definitely memorable. It doesn't relate at all to your novel, but then the Bond Girls were never strictly necessary to the espionage plot, either.

Gene Hayward July 31, 2007 at 4:26 pm

As a high school economics teacher somewhat attuned on how to reach people vaguely interested in economics, I like "The Price of Everything". It lets me know enough to get my interest. Similar to "Naked Economics" (who can ignore "naked"), "The Armchair Economist", "More Sex Is Safer Sex" (greatest econ. book title ever?), "The Mystery of Capital", etc. That is my two cents, with change leftover….

Matt H July 31, 2007 at 4:29 pm

How Little We Know catches my attention as an economist. However, I think the average reader might be more struck by The Silent Symphony.

CD July 31, 2007 at 4:34 pm

My two favorites:

The Silent Symphony
The Poet of Prosperity

Good luck!

John Dewey July 31, 2007 at 4:35 pm

I was drawn to the title "The Price of Everything".

That title has been used before, but I don't think anyone would confuse your novel with this one:

Vaughn, Dona "The Price of Everything", Harper-Collins, 1993.

Synopsis: 353 pages. Giselle: The young naive bride of a powerful and cruel man, she gathers the strength through tragedy to build a business empire of beauty.

Bill July 31, 2007 at 4:43 pm

I liked The Poet of Prosperity until Noah called it "graniose" and made me look it up to confirm that it was a typo.
I still like it, especially if it is meant to describe Sam (and if it isn't, why the hell not?!?).
On second thought, perhaps you should save that title for a biography of von Mises.

Mikhail Dubov July 31, 2007 at 5:13 pm

You mentioned "easy to remember" twice in your post.

As for the title the first two are too easy for a novel as is Let It Grow and Ties that Bind. The best ones are Silent Symphony and Harmony although I am sure you can think of something better along these lines.

javier July 31, 2007 at 5:16 pm

Silent Symphony is my # 1, as it is an interesting idea and is alliterative–never underestimate the power of alliteration.

Along those lines, Poet of Prosperity is a close second–I like that it refers to a specific character–instead of drawing interest in just a book, it is a character with whom you can identify.

Good luck!

Geoff Manne July 31, 2007 at 5:19 pm

Let it Grow is a Grateful Dead song, which clinches it for me, but may not be the evocation you intend. That said, anything seemingly Grateful Dead-related gets an automatic boost because Deadheads are a) extremely acqusitive and b) almost maniacally devoted. I can't tell you how many albums have been bought, even from undesirable artists, simply because they covered a Grateful Dead song.

William July 31, 2007 at 5:26 pm

I like "The Price of Everything" or "The Garden of Prosperity."

Steve Miller July 31, 2007 at 5:29 pm

The Price of Everything.

Has a nice ring to it. Very nice.

Francois Tremblay July 31, 2007 at 5:29 pm

The most punchy title is definitely "the price of everything."

Brad July 31, 2007 at 5:55 pm

"You accelerate at random" (a classic line from Pinky and the Brain).

"What we don't know we don't know (and how it can hurt us)."

"Cafe Hayek: The title of this book" (inspired by the browser window)

"Man – without a plan" (maybe that should be a colon)?

"There's no plan like no plan."

"Spontaneity: what's good for your sex life is good for the economy too!"

"Dog fight at the opera"

alejandro July 31, 2007 at 6:15 pm

I like "The price of Everything" , it is more of a simple title ,but it could catch your attention.
My second choice would be "The Garden of Prosperity" it's more of a "Novelistic" :-)
title and it's good too.
It would depend of the content.

Sarah July 31, 2007 at 6:22 pm

"The Price of Everything" and "The Garden of Prosperity" are both great.

Forbes July 31, 2007 at 6:30 pm

I'd go with "The Price of Everything". I say that from my experience of picking up (and then buying) Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything", a fascinating book on a number of scientific discoveries, written for a general audience.

Lee Kelly July 31, 2007 at 6:37 pm

Call it "Harry Potter and the Silent Symphony."

Then you'll be sure to shift a few million copies before anyone realises.

The Cynical Libertarian July 31, 2007 at 6:41 pm

The Price of Everything

Eli July 31, 2007 at 6:53 pm

The Symphony of Prosperity

Dan July 31, 2007 at 7:07 pm

Unscripted Life

zizou July 31, 2007 at 7:14 pm

Definitely the Price of Everything. Possibly with a subtitle that includes a play on the old quote about a cynic knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

StaffAction July 31, 2007 at 7:14 pm

I like these two 3.1 times more than the rest:

Unscripted Life

The Silent Symphony

metis314 July 31, 2007 at 7:17 pm

Silent Symphony for me.

Stephen W. Stanton July 31, 2007 at 7:24 pm

Sorry, Dude. None of the above. Unscripted Life is good… But not spectacular. Price of Everything is OK, too.

Trying to convey the concept of Prosperity from liberty… Harmony with no sheet music or conductor…

Frankly, the best analogy is Jazz… But Jazz is not a jazzy enough word for the title.

"Jazz Symphony of Prosperity"

Yeah, that title sucks…. Even if it gets the ideas across.

You know what? Ignore this post. Go with your own ideas. They are better than mine.

Rick July 31, 2007 at 7:39 pm

The Silent Symphony does it for me!

Mohit July 31, 2007 at 9:00 pm

I like `Unscripted Life'; though `Life, Unscripted', in my opinion, has a better ring to it.

Fred Dent July 31, 2007 at 9:03 pm

I like the "The Price of Everything" You might also consider other plays on the price theme:
"The Price is Wrong" (government distortion)
"The Price of Nothing" (socialism)
"Price and Prejudice"
"The Price and the Pauper"
"Le Petit Price"

I think I might have better luck with the New Yorker caption contest! Go with "The Price of Everything"

Timothy July 31, 2007 at 9:45 pm

The Pirates of Prosperity

or perhaps

The Pirates of Prosperity!

In seriousness, I like The Price of Everything best of the possibilities you list. The Garden of Prosperity is good too.

Stein July 31, 2007 at 10:20 pm

How Little We Know.

It reminds me of the expression "little did he know" which curiously always tends to draw my attention to the subject in question.

Mike July 31, 2007 at 10:23 pm

I think the Poet of Prosperity would appeal to a general reader (not me however). People love biographies, and just might pick this up to figure out who it is about. And for some strange reason, a left-leaning friend of mine, when I mentioned the title, seemed to think it sounded like a criticism of prosperity – since many poets are critical writers. So it might have some appeal to those folks not already in the choir.

Looking forward to it!

Jason M July 31, 2007 at 10:40 pm

I found "The Price of Everything" to be the most appealing.

jurisnaturalist July 31, 2007 at 10:41 pm

Is this a religious book? Seriously, sneak into a religious bookstore and check out the titles in its money section. Your options all sit well with these.

Back to the old drawingboard.

Sam July 31, 2007 at 11:03 pm

I like "Unscripted Life" but "Life Unscripted" sounds better.
Also "Silent Symphony"

Perhaps you should mail out a few advance copies and ask for other title suggestions? Or more comment?

Mr. Econotarian July 31, 2007 at 11:14 pm

"An Inconvenient Price"

Sameer Parekh July 31, 2007 at 11:20 pm

I like silent symphony. It evokes silent spring. Nice ironic contrast right there.

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