Saturday, October 18, 2003

You can't judge a book...

I was on the tube yesterday evening reading my book when this guy interupts me to ask where I'd bought it. I'm currently reading Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan, the sixth book in the Wheel of Time series. It's not exactly uncommon so I thought the question was a little strange. But he went on to explain that he only wanted to know where you could buy them with the old style of cover design because the publishing company, in its wisdom, has decided to change the design in time for the tenth book to come out in paperback.

I couldn't help him since I've had the book for years (I'm only rereading the series so that it's fresh in my mind when I read the new one) but it did give me pause for thought. It's not the first time I've seen this. It's happened with Patricia Cornwell's books and Michael Connelly's and various other author's too, no doubt. The publishers, for some unknown reason, think that it would be a good idea to change the cover design for a very popular series of books, thus ruining the look they create on bookshelves.

Now I realise that this is only a fairly minor grumble, after all it's not as if the style of writing or approach to the story has changed but I think it certainly takes the gloss off having built up the series over a number of years and penalises you for having been a loyal reader.

What makes it so irritating is that there is no reason to make the change. Everyone liked it the way it was before so why do it? Of course, we'll never know why, we just have to accept it because they've got us over a barrel. Us readers will only get annoyed about it because we want to carry on reading the story - we're hardly going to stop buying the books in protest are we?

I'll certainly be buying the next Wheel of Time book when it comes out in paperback in a couple of weeks. I just wish it would match the other nine I've already got.

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