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Saturday, 8 June 2013

An Open Letter to Publishers: Cover Changes

Hey guys! So, this is a bit of a different post to my normal stuff on here. This is something which has niggled me, and no doubt most of, or all of, you at some point and personally it annoys me to no end and has done for as long as I can remember. And that is when the look of a series changes mid-way through the series' publication. I would like to point out that this is not a post to attack publishers or to annoy them or to do any other thing than give my own personal opinion, perhaps evoke some discussion and possibly get a reason why. If you agree with anything I have to say, then please do leave a comment - this is something that interests me and peoples opinions on this matter also interest me so I would like to hear what you have to say at least.

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Dear Publishers,

I have been a reader ever since I was very young - and something I have also been since I was very young was a collector. I like to collect a series of books. I like to collect books by certain authors. There are authors that no matter how old I get, no matter how much my tastes differ, I will always read their work because it evokes some kind of magic within me and it's a magic that I love to experience again and again. But something that comes with the territory of being a collector is slight, and sometimes obsessive OCD. It is something that I guess just cannot be helped. It's nice to have a collection that looks nice on the shelf together, or wherever you choose to display your books. But something that makes collecting books a sometimes painful habit is when the look of a series changes. This is something that both enrages and saddens me. I have lost count over recent years where covers have changed for a series either mid-way through, sometimes at the very end, just with the last book and sometimes they've changes several times.

The Lionboy trilogy by Zizou Corder. The look changed just for the final book, The Truth, so my series doesn't match. Vampirates by Justin Somper. The series had a massive over-haul when the fourth book, Black Heart came out. Anthony Horowit'z Alex Rider series. The covers changed slightly for the eighth book, Crocodile Tears - they were somewhat similar but fonts had changed, placements had changed. And then they changed again for the final book, so vastly different that it looks somewhat out of place on my shelf. And now, most recently, one that has niggled me most and inspired this letter is Michelle Paver's Gods and Warriors series.


Gods and Warriors, the first book of the series was published in hardback last August. It had a stunning cover that really excited me and made me want to read the book even more - although because it's by Michelle it was a given that I'd read it anyway - and I just knew that it'd look amazing on my shelf especially when all five books of the series had been released. So cue my excitement when the cover for the second book, The Burning Shadow, popped up online a couple of months ago. It matched the cover for the first book. It had the same kind of feel but it was so colourful and exciting - ooh, the lion cub, the explosion - everything about it made me excited. It fit with the first one and that was important and the wait for the book, due in August continued. 

And then one day I went on Amazon and this happened...


A different cover was showing. What's this? I asked myself. Perhaps this is the one they did before... Hmm... I'll check with Puffin. So I merged the 2 together into one picture and tweeted the publisher asking which one was the one I could expect to see on the hardback and the reply came back saying that it was this new, different cover... Okay... It's not that bad. It's pretty similar to the one they had already posted and yeah, I was probably over-reacting but I was so annoyed and so upset. It looks nothing like the first one. The characters look so much bigger - yeah the colour is still there but it didn't look, to me, as excting as the cover for the book above. And most important of all, it didn't match the cover for the first book. As it is, I am not too disheartened as the paperback for Gods and Warriors is due to sport the same sort of new look and has been re-branded as The Outsiders.


But that doesn't solve my problem that I'm now not going to have a matching set of hardbacks and this saddens me as a collector and as a fan of Michelle Paver. It probably sounds sad, but it's just the way I am and a lot of other people are too. It's nice to have stuff that matches.

As I mentioned in my note before I began this letter, this is not an attack and I am not attacking Puffin in particular, it's just that Gods and Warriors is the most recent example I've seen and one that has a direct affect on me.

I understand that you may want to change the look of a series at some point. Sometimes change is good. Sometimes change makes things better. And sometimes it just makes collectors like me get two or three or even more sets of books. I have The Hunger Games trilogy in multiple sets. The same for the Harry Potter series. It's nice to have a full set that way. But if it were me, and I wanted to change the look of a series, I'd wait till the end of the series. Then the people who have been fans or readers of it from the beginning have a nice neat set that they can re-visit again and again and again for years and years to come. Great! Mission accomplished. A great series read and they look nice too which is a bonus. But as is obvious this doesn't happen some times and it's disheartening. 

I understand that some people just frankly do not care what the book looks like. And I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. It's what is on the pages within the cover that count and I know and appreciate that. But it is also nice for those of us that do have OCD and look forward to the day when we have a series that looks uniform that we are proud to display on our book shelves, mantle tops, tables, desks, anywhere. 

I guess I just want to know why. Why do you do this to us? Why do you torment us so? All we ask is that we get one go at the series without having to fork out more money to get a series that matches - which is something I have done. With Justin Somper's Vampirates books I went out and got the first three in the new cover look just so that my series matches. You want to know they're part of the same whole and the look just adds to this. Just please, spare a thought for the fans, the readers, the collectors. 

Thank you for reading. Again, please understand this isn't an attack. It is a plea. From one book lover to another.

Yours Sincerely

Ryan - Empire of Books

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As I said above guys, any comments or views or anything you want to say at all, please do leave a comment. Thank you.



3 comments:

  1. The worst for this is Alex Scarrow's time riders series, the second print run of the sixth book, and the seventh book have slightly different covers. It's unnoticeable to many people but for me its annoying. The overall theme is the same, just the location of the authors name and title have changed, and a small book number icon has been added to the spine, which forces the rest of the information down. My edition of the 7th book is different and out of place with the other six. Why would this change come into place so close to the end of the series.

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    1. I noticed this actually. I bought copies of the latest 2 books over e weekend and only noticed when I got home. It's only little details but it all matters. Argh. So annoying. Thanks for reminding me of that one. Haha.

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  2. Read this by Non at Catnip as to why covers change. Essentially if they didn't you would't get the whole series http://catnipbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/nice-jacket.html?m=1

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