You see a new book from a favorite author and you immediately buy it. You eagerly dive into the story and just a couple of pages in, you think the opening scene is vaguely familiar. Perhaps you read a teaser somewhere online. But by the end of the first chapter, you know why the words are familiar: you already have this book. It’s not a new release; it’s a reissue.
It’s frustrating when that happens.
Despite what some people have suggested, authors and publishers are not trying to trick the reader into buying a book again. They don’t want to antagonize their core audience!
Why do books get new covers and title?
A publisher will change a book cover because the original one is outdated or it doesn’t go with the look they’re trying to create for the author’s body of work.
Sometimes a book will receive a new title because the older one doesn’t fit the current mood of the author’s brand. Or perhaps the original title is so 1990.
Publishers are also giving digital releases to older novellas. These stories were published in anthologies so the novellas didn’t have individual covers.
How do readers keep track of new releases?
If the author is a megastar and has written a bazillion stories, the publisher might add an emblem on the cover indicating that the book is a new release. However, not every publisher does that and not every prolific author gets a new release logo on the book cover.
Sometimes the publisher will include the words “previously published” on the front or back cover. If the title has changed, the publisher might mention that it was “originally published as [OLD TITLE] in 1984.” While this is helpful for readers, there’s no guarantee these words will appear on the cover.
The book description also might include the words “fan favorite” or “classic”. It’s usually seen in the first sentence but this isn’t a standard practice.
The best way to determine if a new release is a reissue
Ignore the cover and go straight to the copyright page. It should be in the front of the book. Look for the © symbol. Next to the copyright symbol is the year the work was first published. A book published in 2019 would have the copyright ©2019. If there is a title change, the original title will be mentioned on this page.
Want more? Find out why publication dates are so misleading.