My Quibble with Anniversary Editions

Elizabeth Bluemle -- September 11th, 2015

Why oh why do publishers mess with beautiful book covers when creating anniversary editions?

From the publisher’s point of view, if there’s nothing different and new about an old book, there’s nothing new to market. I understand that they want to differentiate the anniversary edition as a special book with something new to offer readers, but by and large, the anniversary covers are uglier than the originals. Either the gorgeous cover art is squished smaller to make room for a border — n.b., a full border instantly almost always makes a book look static and dull — or a banner proclaiming the anniversary takes up precious art space. And, the books are almost always a couple of dollars more expensive than the perfectly good original — for no discernible reason except to pay for the revamped cover design.

As a frontline bookseller, I can tell you that customers care so much less about that 25-year burst medallion than they do about the fact that their beloved book looks different. The whole selling point of a book that has withstood the test of time is nostalgia. Mess too much with it and the book loses its appeal.

Some anniversary editions alter even the color of a book’s cover, and I’ll bet my fellow booksellers will join me in saying that customers almost always ask us to order the original edition rather than buying the new one. The anniversary marketing push draws attention to old favorites, but it’s the old favorite that people want.

Can anyone think of a case where the anniversary edition of a book was more appealing than the original?


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