An Open Letter to Vintage Books

Dear Vintage Books,

First of all, I should start by saying thank you for publishing Jo Nesbo’s amazing thrillers in English, and thank you for greasing whatever palm needed greasing to get hundreds of The Snowman paperbacks piled high by the tills in Waterstones Patrick Street and stuck with a giant “€4 off” sticker, which combined with the “The next Stieg Larsson” blurb and the €5.03 on my Waterstones loyalty card had me running to the cashier faster than I was already running towards it with my stack of Christmas-themed novelty titles (The Bro Code, etc.).

And I absolutely loved it, even if my choice of reading time – the night it first snowed here in Cork – was a little unfortunate. In fact if I hadn’t read Darkside by Belinda Bauer on December 29th, The Snowman would have been the best thriller I read all year (bad luck there) and I can assure you that at least one person was swayed by my glowing review (well… I think).

But Vintage I’m sad to say that you’ve also let me down. You see, I’m one of these people who’s a bit… shall we say, particular about her books. Reading them is only the initial pleasure; I get my money’s worth by arranging them carefully on a bookshelf and gazing adoringly at them for years. Now, I bought The Snowman in the second week of December. On December 30th, I returned to Waterstones and hoovered up as many Jo Nesbo books as I could find, which was three. (They were out of stock of The Redbreast, so my search for that book continues.) But tell me, Vintage, what’s wrong with this picture?

Exhibit A

And yes, thank you, I love those bookends too. Santa brought them. Aren’t they just darling? Although the bendiness of the lower “books” makes me a bit nervous; I can’t look at them for too long or I’ll start to sweat… But anyway: The Snowman is sticking out like an infected eyesore in the midst of my lovely Nesbo collection. I understand that book covers are changed, and why – it’s happening to one of my all-time faves, Harlan Coben, later this year, and maybe some folk who haven’t given him a chance yet will be swayed by his sparkly new covers. We’ll see. But Coben covers have been the same for a few years now – why change when out of four books, the three that match were just published last year?

(Although, between you and me, I have my suspicions about the answer. Dare I say, the blue in the background of The Snowman cover is very like the blue in the background of The Girl Who Played With Fire, and the green in the background of this cover of The Devil’s Star is very much like the green in the background of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, which would make one of you very clever. Very clever indeed. But note for the future: such highbrow subliminal advertising is wasted on me. Any excuse to buy a book will do – a sticker saying, “I think you might like this – Anonymous Author Who Owes This Author a Favor” would be more than enough to sway me.)

Exhibit B

But the confusion continues because as you can see above, the Kindle edition of The Snowman has the very cover on it I’m after. And it doesn’t stop there, because The Leopard, the new Nesbo that you have me waiting with bated breath for, has a cover on it that bares no resemblance whatsoever to any of the books that have gone before.

Exhibit C

So Vintage, what’s up with all that? Is this all just a ploy to get me to buy new copies so they all match? (Because, let me tell you, I’ll do that on my own. Otherwise the bookcase will have to be moved out of the bedroom, or I won’t be able to sleep.) Or is there some deeper, more mysterious reason?

Please advise.

Love, Me

P.S. If you happen to work for Vintage books and are reading this, have a root around the office for a matching Snowman for me, will you? Cheers.

(WINK. You know, if that wasn’t clear.)

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Vintage Books

  1. Emma Newman says:

    This makes me wish I work at Vintage Books. Great stuff – not only because it’s delight to read, but also because it reassures me that there are other people out there as… dedicated to the sensitive collection of books. I almost wrote insane then, but that would just be wrong. We shall be dedicated. Yes, that’s much better.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Lol! Oh, yes – there are definitely others! And ‘dedicated to the sensitive collection of books’ – I LOVE it! (That would be a great name for a book blog too, wouldn’t it? You should copyright it!)

      I have been known to throw a strop because an author’s new book doesn’t match the rest, and don’t even get me started on Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly books! Because I’ve been reading them for so long and have lived in different places while I have, I have a collection of:

      – American hardbacks
      – UK hardbacks
      – Irish pretend hardbacks, as I call them (the size of a hardback but in paperback)

      for each author. Throw in cover design changes and you can only imagine the mayhem!


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