Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tom Who?

Kristin G. sent me this link to an article in today's ABC News Online:

In an unusual publishing move, Tom Wolfe's most-recent novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, will be printed without the title on the cover of its paperback edition - just its author's name in giant letters.

The paperback cover of the sexually charged tale of contemporary US college life contains only Wolfe's name and a picture of a young woman in a green dress, presumably to symbolise Charlotte Simmons.

"We are using Tom Wolfe's name as a brand, rather than the title of the book. He is an icon himself," said Tanya Farrell, publicity director for Picador USA which is printing more than 2 million copies of the 738-page novel in which the 74-year-old writer tries to infiltrate the minds of American college students.

The back cover has reviews of the book but does not name the novel, although the name is printed on the inside cover.

Yeah, Kristin, I snorted at Ms. Farrell's disingenuous assertion that Wolfe is so famous his books don't need titles in order to sell. This is a marketing gimmick, pure and simple; a twist on the old ruse of presenting "an exciting, groundbreaking book" by a deliciously mysterious, anonymous new author.

I believe the marketing folks have erred in putting a photograph on the cover of this new edition. They should have left it blank, except for Wolfe's name, in small black print.

People would have called it The White Book.


Kate R said...

Why does this make me want to rant and kick things? The ploy will sell books; selling books is good. The rest should be superfluous. But ARGGHH.

Brenda Coulter said...

Somebody has just reminded me that the Beatles' "White Album" did have some numbers on it, not just the group's name.

Anonymous said...

You know, even if it's an author that's an automatic buy, I still need to know if it's a book I already have. :) So, a title is sort of helpful that way.

Yes, this is a marketing gimmick. If it works, great for them.

I still like titles. And, generally speaking, I do not like photograph covers (although I like mixed media "artsy" covers that can incorporate part or all of a photo in the artwork, such as the cover for THE ARMLESS MAIDEN).


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