Saturday, 6 November 2010

Rant: New Covers, Then More New Covers, Then More...

I need to have a bit of a rant, and I know some people are going to disagree with me, but I just need to get it off my chest.

I love publishers, I think they're amazing! And I love authors too. But I understand that publishing is a business. Publishers want to make money, which is understandable, but sometimes the way they go about trying to make their money annoys me.

This is to do with covers. It annoys me when books come out with new covers for two different reasons. The first is when covers are changed in the middle of a series. This doesn't effect me much, I'm more interested in the story than the covers, but there are those fans out there who like to have a matching set. So what does this mean? That fan goes and buys all the previous books so they have a matching set, even though they already have them. Then a year or so later, those same books come out again with new covers before the series has ended. That same fan will then have to go out and buy all the previous books again with the new new covers. In this case, that one fan has bought several books three times, but we all know it's not just one fan. Lots of fans like to have a whole set that matches. So how much more money has the publisher raked in just by changing the cover? How much money are the fans wasting - and I say waste because they already own and have read the previous books - just so they can have a matching set?

The second reason is when a series seems to come out with new covers each year. There are the originals, then there are special editions; same as orignals but coloured edges, then with no title on the front, different coloured background, and coloured edges, and all the others. And that's not mentioning movie tie-ins, where there isn't just one cover for a particular movie tie-in, but several. As I said, every year there are new covers for a whole series. And fanatics will buy every single edition they can get their hands on. And what do the publishers hear? Kerching, kerching, kerching!

Don't get me wrong, I can understand publishing a series with new covers a long while after they were first released, I'm not saying books should have one cover indefinitely. It makes sense to change them agter a fair while to bring in new fans. But to change them so regularly?

In both cases, how much are these people spending on books that have exactly the same story inbetween the covers? How much are the publishers raking in by simply changing a cover - and as shown above, they only need to do something as small as making the edges of the pages a bright colour and people will go buying - how much do they get?

I am not one of these people. I don't mind mis-matched series, it's the story that I'm mostly interested in. Once I have a series, I'm not going to buy it again and again for the different covers when the books I have are fine. Saying that, I don't have a problem with those people who want matching series, or want every single edition available. If that's what they want, then go for it. But, for example, would the fanatics actually demand new covers if there weren't any available? I doubt it. They want them because they're available.

I don't claim to know the ins and outs of publishing, I don't know exactly where the money goes, I just know the money is being spent. And I think it's really unfair, and it feels like fans are being taken advantage of. There is no real reason I can see to change covers mid-series, or to bring out new editions of books so regularly, except to make money. And it annoys me.

On a similar note, it also annoys me when books are re-released with short stories at the back, and fans can only read that short story if they buy that book - even if they already have it. More money-making scheme. I shall be quiet now.

12 comments:

  1. I've noticed this myself, with the new Harry Potter covers and Twilight covers, and how they've been changing the size of many paperback books and even some hardback. The Harry Potter covers are at least fresh and original, but releasing the Twilight books with the same cover art, using a white background instead of black and painting the edges of the pages red? That's just blatent cashing-in!

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  2. Exactly! I can think of at least one novel where there was a paperback, and then they released a smaller paperback - I believe this was because one was a trade paperback and the other... wasn't. I can get publishing hardbacks and then paperbacks - some people don't like hardbacks, and would prefer a paperback - in which case there is a need for paperbacks as a product. The Harry Potter covers make sense to me, but I think they should have held off another few years. The new editions are aparently for the next generation who didn't grow up with Harry Potter, but Deathly Hallows was only released three years ago. The only generation they can be talking about are new born babies, and it's going to be a few years before they can read them, lol. But it is the amount of Twilight books out there that annoy me most. I love these books, but sometimes I think it's going just a little too far.

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  3. I totally agree with you Jo, I don't get overly worked up on mismatched sets, but I do find it hard to believe sometimes that some covers of series are changed all the time.

    Because I get to hear this type of discussions at work, I can offer a tiny glimpse of why sometimes covers are changed by publishers.
    - One of the main reason is negative feedback. If the book looks too much like the previous one or if it is not in a colour code/style selling (apparently, green covers don't sell) etc. For instance, a dark blue title didn't sell, but when the same book came out in the same format in white, it sold more. Go figure...
    - The second one is to attract new customers by making old covers more catchy (and that comes with the feedback as well).
    - The third one would be reissuing a book for a special occasion, aka Christmas (ex: Twilight books) or Mother's Day etc.
    There is also the issue of the author changing name or wanting to use a pseudonym etc...

    A lot of discussions are made to know which format and which cover would suit a book best, and sometimes a change has to be made in the middle of a series because the sales are starting to get lower and lower.

    Unlike many people, I entirely dislike coloured page edges. I just got my white Breaking Dawn and the red of the pages messed up the white cover :(

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  4. Cheers for commenting, Caroline! It's nice to get some idea of why covers change. That makes sense for the VA series, I suppose, but I thought it was really popular. I'm not a fan of special occasion covers though. I think it's a little daft.

    I got Breaking Dawn too, and I'm the same, red marks on the white cover. It just seems ridiculous, lol. Ah well.

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  5. Hi Jo, great rant :o) This does irritate me a little too especially when the covers change half way through a series because I like to have all my books matching. I understand the whole hardback / paperback issue, I personally would never choose to buy hardback as I prefer paperbacks to read but I know lots of people who love hardbacks.

    I'm glad that I hadn't already brought any of the Vampire Academy books because I wouldn't want to buy the last one if it didn't match. I read them from the library, loved them & was planning on buying them when I had more money so I'll just hang on & wait for the new covers & buy the whole set. That will keep me happy cover wise :o) I would be really annoyed if I already owned the rest of the series though. I personally can't see the point of having multiple copies of the same story but I want my series to match.

    I'm not too bothered about the fact they've released the new white Twilight covers because they've still released Breaking Dawn in black too (I have the hb but want to replace it with the pb & will then donate my hb to charity). The white covers are pretty but I'm not going to replace my books with them. I can't afford to buy all the books I haven't read yet so no way am I spending money on duplicates LOL. It does sometimes feel like they bring out new covers just to get more money from the fans though.

    I love the new Harry Potter covers but again I can't afford to replace all of my books with them. If I had unlimited money I might be tempted but until I win the lottery I'll stick with the ones I've got :o)

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  6. With Harry Potter, there's just (in the UK/AUS etc. area) the original covers, the adult covers and these new signature edition covers. Unlike a lot of series that get films, there were no tie-in covers.

    Then you look at Twilight: original, special edition, red edged, white covers, multiple movie tie-ins... it's just ridiculous. They're not even entire revamps in style like the HP variations. Just "special edition" or "white" or "red edged". Just ridiculous.

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  7. I've had a couple of books with coloured edges donated to the charity shop I volunteer in and well, you think they're messy now...Not only does the colour shift onto the cover and the insides of the pages, but it also fades unevenly (partly because some of the colour gets transferred elsewhere), which makes books look much older and more mistreated than they are.

    It can be nice when books come out with several different cover designs. I am a bit obsessed with the cover designs for different printings of Angela Carter's books, and there are some books I'll probably buy multiple copies of just because they have such beautiful artwork. However, none of them are in series! I like having series books that match. I'm not that fussy about it, because I tend not to own complete series anyway. But eventually I would like to have the perfect library with matching series!

    I can kind of understand why they will sometimes change cover style part way through a series - to try to improve sales - but what really gets me is when they do it several times whilst new books are being published, and then a few more times when the series is done! To be fair, this doesn't happen very often. Usually, cover style will stay consistent over a whole series. It only seems to happen when books achieve a certain degree of popularity. Especially if a film is made - there are up to four different covers of the Twilight paperbacks now! (Luckily for me I have no interest in ever reading another book from 'The Saga' - Twilight was enough for me - so I can save my pennies :P)

    I don't mind the Harry Potter changes, I just wonder how interested in the new covers people will be, considering that the original covers are still in print!

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  8. Thank you all for your comments! I didn't realise there were so many people who agreed with me, lol.

    But that doesn't mean if anyone disagrees they shouldn't comment. Please comment, I want to hear your views!

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  9. I just don't get dragged in with it all. The old reason why I might buy a second copy of a book is if I got the first book of a series in paperback and then get the rest of series in hardback. I'll then sometime replace the first one with a hardback but often invest in a first edition signed copy if I can hunt one down and usually if I've like the series enough to do that I pass the papercopy onto a friend.

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  10. That makes sense to me, but that doesn't bother me much either. I do prefer paperbacks to read, but hardbacks look better. But I don't mind having a bit of both in a series. It's just not that big of a deal for me.

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  11. Hi Jo, I'm CJ. A new followers. the 400th. =)
    Looking forward to read your posts...=)

    CJ @ Coffee N Crackers

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  12. Thanks for following! I really appreciate it! :)

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