Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Book by its Cover

Some of the problem of deciding which books to pack for a trip away has been solved by having an e-reader. One can take any number. I’ve got the latest Bryant and May by Chrisopher Fowler, the new Fred Vargas, and the latest Sue Grafton all stacked up. I’ve also got The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C.Kasasian and masses of classics: Middlemarch, lots of Trollope, Jane Austen, Lettres de mon Moulin, and another French novel, Rue des boutiques obscures by Patrick Modiana (our  book group choice which I’m trying to read in French).
But – of course there’s a but – this isn’t the complete answer.  My book addict like myself has to have back-up. What if the e-reader gets lost or stolen or just plain stops working. Disaster!  Besides it’s still very nice to have a crisp new paperback or four (or more) to take away. It’s part of the pleasure of getting ready for a holiday.
But having said this, one of my choices this year is The Strangler’s Honeymoon by Hakan Nesser and I only bought this because I like Nesser and sadly I wouldn’t have found it enticing if I hadn’t already read his novels. It’s a terrible title and the cover is no better. When Nesser was first published in the UK, I seem to remember that the covers were atmospheric landscapes which suited the mood of the novels. Now they have all been repackaged with close ups of sulky-faced women with lots of hair on the covers, whether it’s relevant to the story or not.  I don’t think these are the kind of images to appeal to the readers like me who enjoy intelligent crime fiction. It reminds me of when my friend Sue Hepworth's comedy of middle-aged love was packaged as chick lit. She was furious and I don’t blame her. Don’t publishers realize that some readers will feel cheated if the cover doesn’t match the contents of the book and that others will be put off buying a book they might actually enjoy? Interestingly both the US and the Germany editions have better covers.

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