It’s no secret how much we love books here at Novel Novice – and if you’re visiting this site, chances are, you love them too. But let’s face it, there are a few things that go on in the publishing world that really annoy us, even when it comes to the books we love. Here are our top 5 pet peeves about books:
1. “Previously on …”
TV shows almost always start with the words “Previously on …” followed by a short recap of significant events that have happened leading up to this most recent episode. So doesn’t it make sense the books in a series should follow a similar format? Especially when it’s often a year or more between books?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up the second or third book in a series, and find myself so lost because I can’t remember what happened in book one. A short synopsis of key events would be SO helpful! I’m not suggesting these synopses would replace reading the previous books – just save us from having to re-read the previous books before being able to dive into the new one.
2. Numbered Books
You know how great it was when the Harry Potter books were numbered Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, etc.? Wouldn’t it be great if ALL serialized books were numbered sequentially?
It kind of sucks when you find a book in a store, pick it up, and think it sounds great – only to start reading and find out it’s the second or third book in a series? Or to discover a series, and not be able to figure out which order the books go in?
Sure, you can usually find this information online – but shouldn’t it be simpler than that? Especially when you consider this would significantly help shoppers who browse in physical book stores?
3. Cover Randomizer
Sometimes it feels like the cover for YA books make absolutely NO sense for the content. In fact, do you ever wonder if the publisher’s art department just spins a wheel or pulls an idea out of a hat? “For this cover, we’ll do … extreme close-up of model’s face.” Or, “This time, let’s go with supermodel in a fancy dress.”
I understand that covers help sell books – but these generic, oh-so-blah, no-relationship whatsoever to the book itself covers have got to stop. There are plenty of gorgeous covers, that are eye-catching to readers, that also tie-in with the book’s content. There’s no reason for these generic covers to keep popping up.
4. Cover Switch-Up
Here’s the other big cover gripe: changing designs mid-series. For those of us who are super anal-retentive about our book collections — and who collect books, as well as read them — we want our series to match. But then someone in the marketing or design department decides to do an overhaul, and suddenly I’ve got a series like Holly Black’s Curse Workers, where all three hardcovers have a different design.
I understand the purpose of repackaging covers from a marketing perspective. If a book series isn’t selling well, redesigning the covers could play a major role in boosting sales. So I get it; I do. But I still want my books to match.
(There was recently that amazing case of Penguin listening to reader outcry, regarding the repackaging of Stephanie Perkins’ series — which has lead to the publisher re-releasing the first two books in the series in hardcover to match the new designs. Amazing!)
5. Disappearing Series
Here’s another case of business practicality trumping my readerly desires. From a business perspective, I get it. If a book or series isn’t selling well, you need to cut your losses and move on.
But as a reader … how could you do this to me??? I need to know what happens next!!!
Too often, series I love have vanished from store shelves because the publisher gave up on them part-way through publication. Or, in some cases, a merger or acquisition on the business side of things leads to a series disappearing from the publisher’s catalog. (That was the regrettable fate of Sarah Beth Durst’s The Lost, which was intended to be book one of three … until Harper Collins acquired Harlequin and the sequels were cut from their catalog. I’m still mourning the loss of those sequels!)
For the comments: What are your biggest pet peeves about books and the publishing world?
Good list of pet peeves.
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yes, I agree with all of these! I know some authors who do some sort of recaps in the book that mention enough so I don’t have the re-read the previous book, I like that. Although on the other hand if you read them back to back it can get annoying all the recaps. I usually buy books online, the it’s easier to look up which book in a series it is, but even then I once bought the second book in a series accidently instead of the first. I love it when covers match the book.
You mentioned Harry Potter and they were absolutely great about all of the items on the list. Each Harry Potter book had a lot of reminders about what happened in the last book in the series as well as the series as a whole. They also avoided changing cover design mid-series and the art was always super relevant, to the point where as soon as I got the new book I would pore over the cover for a while to try to guess what happened in the book!