I’m fascinated by the lengths to which U.S. publishers sometimes go to ‘localize’ British novels, and I gather it happens the other way round too.
There is a very interesting paper written in English by a German, Helge Nowak, on the changes demanded of A.S. Byatt’s Possession, not my favourite novel but one that was very successful. Nowak looks at every possible aspect of difference between U.S. and British versions, including dustjacket and typography.
Here is just one example of a change. British version:
he saw himself as a failure and felt vaguely responsible for this.
He was a small man, with very soft, startling black hair and small regular features. Val called him Mole, which he disliked. He had never told her so.
he saw himself as a failure and felt vaguely responsible for this. He was a compact, clearcut man, with precise features, a lot of very soft black hair, and thoughtful dark brown eyes. He had a look of wariness, which could change when he felt relaxed or happy, which was not often in these difficult days, into a smile of amused friendliness and pleasure which aroused feelings of warmth, and something more, in many women. He was generally unaware of these feelings, since he paid little attention to what pe/ple thought about him, which was part of his attraction. Val called him Mole, which he disliked. He had never told her so.
I was reminded of this by a recent Guardian article about American publishers nearly retitling the British novel Brick Lane – they wanted it to be called Seven Seas and Thirteen Rivers (however, this was the title originally used by the author, Monica Ali).
There are many Internet sites with B.E./Am.E. wordlists, but they have a tendency to be over-simplified and suggest A is always used in AmE and B always in BE and never the twain shall meet.