Monday, December 10, 2012

Deceiving the Reader is Bad

Putting on my reader scarf for this post. Just forewarning.
Deceiving a reader is good in suspense or mystery novels. Not with reprints.
I ran across a few books last month that looked intriguing. Beautiful covers (yep, I fell for it), an author I hadn't read before and I was excited when I sat down to read them.
And was immensely disappointed.
Found out it was a republished novel from the author's backlist. And not just from 5 or 6 years ago. From 1989.
If it was a relatable story with vivid characters, it wouldn't have bugged me. But this was clearly an outdated story, with un-relatable characters, completely unrealistic plot and an old writing style.
All the author did was recreate the cover and slap a new copyright on it.
This is deceitful in my opinion. Nowhere on the book or the website did this state it was a reprint. I had to find out on Goodreads afterwards (shame on me for not doing my research before I bought it) that this was a 23-year-old book.
And because I'm that kind of reader and feel deceived, I'm not buying any more of that author's books. And have sworn off that publishing imprint entirely.
I understand an author trying to send out their backlist again... on e-pubs. With proper identification of it as such. But only if it's relevant to this time and not outdated. An old plot or characters =  huge turnoff. It's like picking up a 'contemporary romance' where the hero uses a typewriter or a massive brick-like mobile phone.
Come on. They should have at least revised the manuscript before sending it in. And shame on that editor for letting it get through without a necessary re-haul. And backlist stories shouldn't go into reprints on physical books. At least not series or category romances. Stick to e-pubs.
The deceit feels worse since I bought a physical book, one that takes up space on a real shelf. (Not mine- I'll toss this sucker away). The author lost a reader for anything they do in the future because of this sneaky trick. Was it worth it?
Well, chalk this up to a lesson learned on my part. Be more careful to research before I buy. And it's a practice I won't participate in if I'm ever published.
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Ruby Johnson said...

I see this happening a lot in e-books. I've purchased some and discovered I'd read them years earlier. If it's paraded as a current book and is really just a re-issue you'd think they would at least say it's an old book. There weren't cell phones in 1970 or computers for the average person, so if the author sells the book as contemporary, then these things should be updated or give full disclosure to the reader.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Susie, sometimes the publisher reissues books like this and even change the titles as well as the covers. Harlequin has done it for some of the big names like Nora Roberts. That's why Nora came up with her circled N brand so readers could tell the difference.

When I repubbed a 1998 contemporary romance for which I had recovered the rights, I did update it. But if a publisher does the re-release, that means the author does not have rights to the book and basically has no control over what's done with his or her works. Annoying for readers and the author! Many authors are battling Harlequin for the rights back to their books, but without much success. Janet Evanovich and Jayne Ann Krentz have even tried buying back the rights.

Thorne Anderson said...

Thanks for clarifying this topic on re-publishing books and author rights. Makes more sense now.

SusieSheehey said...

That makes a lot more sense. I didn't know publishers did that without the author's input. Completely ridiculous!

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