Browsing in Waterstone’s the other day I was both delighted and a little upset when I found these beautiful Jeeves and Wooster covers lurking on the classics shelves:
Gorgeous aren’t they? But why had they been brought out after I had already committed myself to the cartoony covers? My bookshelf is one of the few things I keep in any state or organisation and mismatched series are one of the most irritating things in the world (I’m still smarting that Harper Voyager changed the size of A song of Ice and Fire paperbacks after book four). But these were so stylish I almost considered ditching the Jeeves I had already and starting from scratch.
Thankfully, I didn’t, because it turns out that these are from a set of special edition Wodehouse’s – four Jeeves, four non-Jeeves – aimed at attracting new readers. Here are the others:
What I love about these covers are the way the almost geometric repeated patterns use a motif that ties in with the contents of the book (I like the pig in the Uncle Fred in the Springtime cover the best) and the strong band of colour that breaks up the title from the illustration. And they look seriously better as a physical copy than a flat image on a screen too.
What I hate about these covers – and I didn’t even notice it in the shop, only when I looked them up online – are the celebrity endorsements. It makes more sense when I read the publisher’s statement that ‘EIGHT P.G. WODEHOUSE CLASSICS HAVE BEEN RE-ISSUED IN AN EXCITING NEW LIVERY to introduce new readers to ‘the best English comic novelist of the century’ [Sebastian Faulks] and encourage fans to venture beyond Jeeves and Wooster to less well-known characters like the Angler’s Rest raconteur, Mr Mulliner.’ and understood that they were trying to draw in fresh readers rather than just shiny new editions for Wodehouse fans. But I still find these kinds of cover quotes really tacky.
It’s bad enough when a small quote somehow slips round from above the blurb on the back and finds itself stuck awkwardly and alone on the front cover, but these ones are splashed right across the cover almost where you expect the title to be. Yuck. And I can’t say I think much of half the people quoted either. A cover endorsement from Walliams or Fellowes would normally put me off immediately. Should I care what Caitlin Moran thinks of anything? Does anyone really like celebrity endorsements or quotes from reviews placed on the front cover? The more I look, the more desperate it seems and the more it seems oddly juxtaposed with the rest of the cover design – which is so good it would be best left to stand on it’s own.
So yeah, despite loving most of the design on these covers I won’t be getting any. First off I’m a completionist and a having a series with mismatched spines on my shelves would bug me more than I can even begin to describe. But secondly, every time I picked one up I would be reminded of the fact that the publishers think Jennifer Saunders or David Walliams have to publicly declare they like something before I’ll consider picking it up.