Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book Rambling: Cover Images, Series and Reprints

Cover images...

If it's not an author you already love (the way Mercedes Lackey is for me, or J.R.R. Tolkien), I'd bet the cover image plays a part in your choice of a new book to read. They're carefully planned, designed and created to appeal.

That's all well and good, but what about when you're reading/buying a series and the publishers change the cover style completely half way through?

They've done it with Jack Whyte's Camolud Chronicles (although, to be fair, they only really did it after the main series was completed, so theoretically it's quite possible to have a matching set). I'm commenting about this one, because I'm missing one of the Sorcerer pair, and I can never remember which one it is when I'm at the used bookstore.

Diana Gabaldon's books are another example. The first books had the strip with the title in the bottom third of the page, and a painting/mixed image for the rest of the cover. I'll admit that that was one of the things that attracted me to the first book, Outlander. Now, it's a plain solid cover color with a simple celtic ornament in the center, and has been from The Fiery Cross onwards.

Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter novels are another example of reprinting with new covers. This one downright confuses me some of the time, as I have them in one set, and the ones in the store are different. At least it's not too different in style (up until Acheron and Bad Moon Rising, anyway). However, I still think of Night Play, for example as being the pink book. now the main cover color is blue. Kind of throws me off a bit when I'm searching them out for customers.

The other headache in covers/editions for me is the History of Middle-Earth series. There's so many editions, and all have different page numbering.

The Pern series by Anne McCaffrey are another set of books where the covers have changed over the years. Some of the earlier books have been reissued in the new covers, but not all, I don't think. Also, the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels by Laurell K. Hamilton are mixed like this. The change is at Obsidian Butterfly, I think.

Question is, are you collector enough to want to have matching sets for books? If so, do you do anything about the re-issues (such as re-buying the series), or do you just gripe mentally, and put up with the multiple cover styles?

Personally, I tend to put up with it (although, as I said, I'm hunting certain exceptions in the used book store). The one exception is the History of Middle-Earth series. I'm trying for the black HarperCollins trade paperbacks, simply so they'll all work with the index volume, which I intend to buy.


April (BooksandWine) said...

I hate when they reissue books with new covers! Or when they reissue books with movie covers, if I can avoid it, I'll always choose the non-movie cover, as the non-movie cover to me seems to have some sort of lasting power.

Great post, definitely food for thought!

Unknown said...

Thanks, April.

I hadn't even thought to include the movie covers in this. Generally with those books though, the original cover is still available at the same time though. I agree about choosing the original though. Still, I have seen a few examples where the movie covers are better than the original, but I can't think of any examples right now.

Anonymous said...

Bemusingly, I just read (and commented on) a similar post over at "The Written World".

Simply put: I only mind it when it happens mid-series and getting a complete set isn't possible. (Rather, I only mind it when the volumes aren't the same size or I really, really, really love a cover. I can't put them in order on the shelf if they're not the same size!) Drives me batty.

Beyond that... I'll deal. (And yes, movie covers are evil! I don't always manage to avoid them, but usually...)

Unknown said...

And that's usually how they do it I find. A sneaky way to make more money perhaps by getting people to rebuy books they already have?

Shanra said...

I don't think that last sentence needs a question mark. ^-~ It's a sneaky way to make money even if it's not intended to be.

So far I'm managing not to be driven batty by my MMP of an omnibus of the Chrestomanci series that doesn't fit with all the trade paperbacks, but that may well be because I don't like the stories in it terribly much. *sigh*

I remember a day when book covers didn't matter in the slightest... I was young and could still borrow translations from the library. Now everything I want to read is only available in bookstores. Don't even get translations, even if I did like reading them...

Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by Shanra.

I just realized I didn't even take into account the hardcover vs. paperback issue. Now, there's one that drives me nuts. I find that I tend to have to have one or the other for a series, and when I've bought the wrong one it drives me nuts.


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