Monday, March 30

Rant: Never judge a book by its cover

Sometimes I really hate TOR Books...

Yes, that's the same book twice. It's the second part of a trilogy.
I bought the one on the right as soon as a paperback was available. At the time I didn't bother to check who the publisher/printer was, I just wanted my J.V.Jones fix. When it arrived I actually put it in my closet and didn't read it for several weeks. The cover's that crass and off-putting. I honestly believe they can make any fan of the fantasy or sci-fi genres cringe to be standing near their respective sections or shelves in a bookstore with their covers they think appeals to hormone crazed teenagers. At least I think that that is what they're aiming for since there's some similarily with the generally equally crass but at least 'on target' video game box-art. I had to remind myself not to judge a book by its cover before I started reading it.

After reading the book I was even more incensed with the crappy effort involved.
The artist on the left, read the book. The artist on the right skimmed a single scene. Both covers portray the same scene in fact. The one on the left nails it, the one on the right is only recognizable as depicting that scene because if it doesn't try to do that scene it's for another book entire. I don't know what the editors of TOR think, cover art isn't worth spending more than $100,- to the artist for. Or maybe there's some folks there who get off of cheap Frank Frazetta ripoffs that don't have the benefit of being classics.

My distlike of the cover actually went so far that later I ordered the second one, the one on the left, after searching for the version with this cover and finding it was Orbit Books'. Yeah, I bought a book I already had because I hated the cover art so much.
Also because the first installment I got also came from Orbit Books and I could order it along with part 3, with another matching cover and that looks way better in my bookcase. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have. I have whole shelves of TOR books I'd much rather have the Orbit versions of. The replacing of one book in a trilogy was acceptable to my budget. Replacing the entire Saga of Recluse series isn't.
TOR's three covers for this J.V.Jones trilogy don't even have any coherency of style between them. If you put them together, your only clues they're related are the themed titles and the author's name. Seriously, they can't even get matching cover-art for a trilogy. I can understand having trouble keeping your artists for something the length of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time or Terry Brooks Sword of Truth series, or Steven Erikson's saga, but for a bleeding trilogy? Luckily Orbit can, and will. The version on the left is an Orbit books cover. When in doubt go with Orbit.

Bantham Press, which I'm sad to say is my Steven Erikson supplier, isn't much better than TOR. Though they actually manage to keep their cover art consistent in their unappealingness. At least Voyager, DAW get it right once in a while and Orbit sticks out above the crowd head and shoulders and chest. I have three bookcases full of fantasy and sci-fi books (yeah, I'm a nerd. As if anyone still had doubts) and you can pick out the TOR and the Orbit books immediately, even ignoring TOR's penchant to have a ridiculously large logo on the back of their books. Of course, Orbit tends not to be the first publisher/printer for books. Their books tend to be of better quality, thicker and whiter paper e.t.c. all round. Which means they're more expensive. So they rarely get to do the first paper-back printing, unless the hardcover version was such a runaway success that multiple publishers/printer are contracted for the paperback version. They're worth waiting for the 2nd printing for, and here in Europe they more often have the first printing of UK English authors, so that's all good.

Anyway, my advice for ordering books online; check who the publisher/printer is and go for any other brand than TOR if you can.
You won't need similar advice for buying in retail stores as you can see the covers for yourself there.


  1. More valid reasons why you should never by a TOR book if you can avoid it.

  2. I have to admit that I no clue who the publisher is of any of the books I buy or look at at the bookstore. A good cover makes me pick up a book from a shelf at the store. Although I don't judge it by its cover it does make me decide to give it my first glance. I'll start paying attention to the publisher from now on. If I remember it.

  3. That's the nicest way anyone ever told me I'm an manic obsessive geek :-)
    To be honest though, for a long time I didn't notice. Did get a few nasty surprises as mentioned above and it's a real pain if you're reading a series published by publisher A, and somewehre around volume X you get publisher B's radically different covers. That just jars when they're on the shelf together.

    For now, I'm boycotting TOR. Not just for the covers but also for the money grabbing, milking a dead cow way they're treating the Robert Jordan legacy. If a book is a little bit to long for a single volume, you break it up in two, that's acceptable. TOR breaks it up in three in stead. Each at full price.

  4. P.s. I got a ergonomic keyboard with the new pc, so I'm making more typo's of the hit-the-keys-in-the-wrong-order today :-/

  5. Woot! Your new PC is already up and running! Gratz.

  6. Yeah, it's amazing :-)
    First no smoke came out of it when I turned it on, then installation of Raid turned out te be totally dumbed down from the hardcore experience it used to be.

    Downloading and installing all the applications I use also went easily. About the only setback I met was that the on board network card didn't come with a driver and Vista being unable to expand upon 12 years of post 3COM generic network architecture and drivers to get it to work. SO I got that on the old pc and pendled it across using my external USB harddisk, which I then used to find out that Vanguard, Age of Conan and CoX all could be simply copied to the new PC and the updater would sort it out. :-)

    Oh, I seem to have a few days left in AoC. Any spots you want to see the DX10 version of? Besides Thunder River :-)