Rambles
Comments 11

Are you all insane? – the ridiculous habits of publishers and booksellers and how they should be punished severely.

One would think that publishers and booksellers, to have ended up in such an industry, would have to have at least a casual fondness for the written word and the pages those words are contained within. Yet, for some unfathomable reason, they keep committing sins so atrocious one might find themselves questioning whether they actually like books at all, or if they are all just monsters.

As book lovers, we’ve all been the victims of this uncivilized behaviour at one time or another, and I think it’s time we call these book-abusing scoundrels out and demand they start treating our books (and their readers) with the respect they deserve.

This is just a list of some of the abominations that are frequently committed at the hands of publishers and booksellers.


1. Stickers

Possibly the most barbaric of all the sins committed by those we expect to love books the most. IMG_3477 (2)_editedThey range from advertisements to prices and they are all evil. Sometimes they can be removed without causing major damage to the book, but often they can’t. Even if they don’t manage to destroy the cover during removal, the residue can often be harder to remove than the stains a night of tequila leaves on your soul.

2. Fake stickers

Just when we thought evil couldn’t get any worse, it does. Like a tattoo of a mistranslated chinese character you had tattooed on your hip on your eighteenth birthday, this curse can never be removed. Never ever. It’s there forever, just like your disappointment.

3. Remainder marks.

IMG_3484 (2)_editedThese are those pesky little lines of sharpies that some unfathomably dimwitted bookseller thought it was a good idea to deface books with. This practice should just be illegal and all offending booksellers lobotomized. You wouldn’t be expected buy a TV if it had a line of sharpie across the screen now would you? No. Why is this acceptable for books? Two words: It’s not.

4. Mid-series cover changes

Imagine this: a bright young reader, their mind still full of hope and wonder, walks into a bookstore on the day the last book in their favourite series is released. They have been waiting so long and perhaps even patiently. Imagine their wide, searching eyes as they approach their favourite section and scan the shelves for their long-awaited treasure. They haven’t seen the cover yet, but they believe in their heart of hearts that they will know it when they see it. They scan the shelves. Nothing jumps out at them, they are confused for a moment, and then they see it. What they have waited to long for.

Now imagine how their brow creases in confusion as they take in the title, how their mouth drops in horror as they read the title, the author’s name, over and over again as they try to make sense of what they are seeing. Something has changed… All the light disappears from their eyes as they realise that their books will no longer match, and that for some unfathomable reason, the new cover is far worse. “Why?” the now disenchanted reader asks themselves as they try to make sense of the madness in front of them. “Why would anyone be so cruel?” Tears start to well in the young readers now-dead eyes.

Later at the publishing house, Satan is taking a nice refreshing bath in the young formerly-bright reader’s tears while congratulating himself on the splendid new covers for the Across the Universe series by Beth Revis.

Okay, things got a bit away with me there, but you get my point.

5. Publisher-sanctioned spoilers

Some publisher with a serious lack of human decency sprung this one on me just recently. I finished my book, and turned the paged, unknowing that I was committing a grievous error. On the next page was a synopsis for the next two books in the series, and they were FULL of spoilers, and not just small spoilers. Huge spoilers. Like who lives and who dies spoilers. Never before have I suffered such an incursion at the hands of a publisher. The worst part about this is that I just cannot fathom how supremely unintelligent someone has to be to not realise that having such spoilers so unexpectedly is a really terrible idea. Reading your synopses of the next books actively made me not want to read the those books because you spoiled it. It’s just unforgivable, and at best, a particularly poor marketing strategy.

6. Inaccurate covers

This particular sin ranges from the mere annoyance of a blonde on the cover of a book about a brunette to a downright offensive white girl on the cover of a book that is about a specifically, and explicitly described non-white protagonist. I’m not even going to make light of this one. It’s just so unacceptable that it doesn’t deserve jokes. If you’re reading this and you are a publisher who approved such a travesty, SHAME ON YOU.

5. Prohibitively expensive ebooks

This is another one of those sins that probably hurts the sinner more than it hurts sin-ee but it’s still really annoying, and it is the intentional pricing of ebooks so that they discourage you from buying them in order to get you to buy a physical copy instead. There is no logical reason why a digital copy of a book should cost more (or just slightly less) than the paperback, but frequenters of ebook retailers will know that this is a regular occurrence. Just the other day I was on the Kobo website looking to buy a copy of The Lesser Dead, a horror book that has received rave reviews of late. But I assure you nothing in this book could be as terrifying as the price of that ebook: $28.99 (and that was marked down from the RRP of #34.04!). Now I don’t know who is responsible for setting the price of ebooks (I know that it is the publishers, not the retailers, but I’m not ruling out Satan being involved in this one as well), but I am calling bullshit on this one. So suffice to say, I didn’t fall into that little trap and instead went on Abebooks and bought myself a hardcover edition for $6.

Tina 1, Publisher (and Satan) 0.

Speaking of Abebooks…

6. “Good Condition” of secondhand books

Now, I like hardcovers, but as a full-time student, I’m not exactly rolling in cash, so I buy a lot of them second hand. This practice is a bit hit and miss as the description of the book’s condition is often open to interpretation. “Good condition with previous signs of use” should generally be taken to mean “not-good condition with previous signs of abuse”. “No tears to the pages” should be taken to mean “no tears to the pages, but you better believe that cover is torn to sheds” and “cover clean and intact” should be taken to mean “oh you weren’t expecting a dust jacket were you?” (and don’t ever think that just because there’s a dustjacket in the supplied photo that that implies that the book you purchase will also have one).

On a side note, in the interest of saving any potential second-hand booksters from falling into some of the traps I have fallen into, here is my handy little guide:

New = (surprisingly) new; Very good = actually pretty bad, good = very bad; fair = it’s just not fair to subject a book to such abuse. Wont someone please think of the children’s books!

7. The Wrong Edition

This happens to me all the time. I find a book: the stock photo is the edition I want, and I diligently check the ISBN (I’ve been hurt before). I excitedly order the book and wait for it to arrive. Then when I open the package, it’s the wrong edition. I have ordered the White’s Fine IMG_3480 (2)edition of Treasure Island so many times, and I’ve received the White’s pocket edition at least three times and then this random picture book once as well. Whenever I email the seller to complain I always get the same response: “Well we didn’t have to one you ordered so we thought we would send you what we have”.

No. Just NO!


Okay, that’s probably enough for now because I am a person who is easily annoyed so, if unchecked, I could go on for some time. What are some of the things booksellers and publishers do that piss you off?


11 Comments

  1. This makes me so sad! I’m not sure what second hand shops you’ve been shopping in, but I’m a seller for one and we refuse to take anything ripped/scribbled in/damaged in any way. As for the stickers and the residue, a quick spritz of Goo Gone or even Windex is usually enough to remove them 🙂

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    • We’re talking online booksellers here, and I can tell you they will take and sell books in any condition and label them as ‘good’, but I’ve pretty much figured out how to read between the lines of the condition statement.

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  2. Well, a lot of these can be explained by the fact that publishing isn’t about the love of books, it is sadly, first and foremost a business. And their first priority isn’t about loving books, it’s about selling them. Now, I’m with you with the stickers, the permanent stickers. I don’t understand remainder marks at all – actually I got a cover defaced with the marker once, like wtf?
    I know the mid-series cover changes happen because they think it will sell the book better. This is what happened with Throne of Glass. Everyone was like “The US cover sucks, we want the UK edition” and so the publisher actually listened. What doesn’t make sense it the fact that it takes it a fuck load of time to update the previous books to the new editions (I think they’re just waiting to sell all the old copies, but come on!!!)
    For sanctioned spoilers — sorry, I can’t be with you on that. I don’t ever read the sequel summaries until I finish the book. Because there are always spoilers, even small ones, that can upset the ending. And if the sequels are already out– I think they assume that most people already know what happens (like if I said Dumbledore dies).
    Inaccurate covers- I agree! I think most of the time it’s because the graphic designer didn’t read the book. I know that it’s Marketing that tell them what to put on the cover. And a lot of times they will make it so it will sell. So if their data tells them that books with covers that have girls with blond hair on covers sell better than those with brunettes – that’s what they’ll put on them. Which is still wrong, but again they’re in it to sell it.
    Same with e-books, if they have a small run of the printed books, they make up for it by selling the ebook at the same high price. I don’t know what makes them think people will buy it, since absolutely NO ONE I know would pay as much for an ebook as for a hardcover.
    Number 6, I think is just lying. People lie to sell product.Like, I’m pissed, but often not surprised.
    Number 7 I agree, it is just out of line. Like, if I requested a specific edition than that’s what I want. But I think that’s again business over pleasure. Just because they sell them doesn’t mean they get the love … or the fact that some people want specific editions.

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    • I know they are in it to make money, but you would think that the people who gravitate to that industry over some other industry that sells something else would be that they like books, but who knows. On the sanctioned spoilers though, these were serious spoilers and shouldn’t have even been in the synopses (like one is that in the first book you think someone died and then in the synopsies it’s like Oh, remember that guy who died, HE DIDN’T! I’m pretty sure that should have been a surprise. I don’t doubt in the next book it will be treated as some big reveal) and it was just that I didn’t even want to read it, but I just turned the page and saw the spoiler! These were really bizarre spoilers to reveal. They aren’t in the synopses on goodreads or anything. They are just these really weird spoiler-ridden ones in the back of the book and I just don’t know why they are there. It’s really strange. It would be like on the last page of half blood prince having a synopses of the deathly hallows saying “Harry discovers that dumbledore is indeed alive” You wouldn’t reveal that before the next book is even out. It just makes no sense. I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY THIS WAS DONE TO ME!!!

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      • Marina says

        Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. It’s just a business to some.

        Oh man, that’s fucked up. Maybe it was a misprint? Like they put the wrong synopsis on the cover?

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      • It wasnt on the cover but in the back of the first book. So i was reading the ebook, i read the last page of the book and turn the page (as you have to go right to the end to have the book marked as finished) and then on the next page BAM! Spoilers for the next book! and so I squeal and turn the page to get it away and BAM! Spoilers for the third book! It just makes no sense!

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      • I work in publishing, and sometimes when I ask questions about covers in a series that don’t flow sometimes people in art chuckle like I’m being funny. I also get annoyed when there is spine decor like lines or a band or something and they don’t line up across a series. The art department seems to think I’m an oddity among readers instead of a voice for the book loving people..

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