The Seal of Approval

Bookish Stuff / Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

What’s in a seal?  Prestige, praise, protection, a blessing.  Seals have existed for many centuries.  They date back to some of the world’s first civilizations.  Today we use them mostly to award prizes.  If you’re a book lover of literary prizes, then you’re used to seeing seals on winning books and runners-up.  Seals are now also showing up on new releases and back list books for book clubs.  Oprah’s Book Club, Reese’s Book Club, Emma Watson’s Book Club, even Jimmy Fallon, and the list goes on.

I hope this trend isn’t going to continue but it seems as though people are really catching the reading bug because of them .  That’s fantastic!  However the thing that annoys me about some of these celebrity book clubs is that when the book is published there has to be a giant seal printed on the front cover for the book club.  This drives me mad!  Why is it that publishing companies have to put Oprah’s seal on every book she chooses for her book club?

When the public decides to buy a book that happens to have the Oprah book club seal, it looks like we’re all joining her book club when we aren’t.  It’s great for the author who gets loads of publicity because his/her book was chosen to be discussed for the club.  Sadly for collectors, like myself,  the Oprah and Reese cover seals don’t cut it.

November 13th, 2018 Becoming by Michelle Obama was released.  I was ecstatic but when I heard that Becoming was chosen for Oprah’s book club, I hoped that there would be some pre-orders that were published without the seal.  First edition hardcover books with a book club seal on the front is just disheartening.

The 13th I looked at all of the pictures on Instagram that rolled through my feed of Becoming.  Everybody was so proud and overjoyed by the release of this book.  But there was a common feeling lurking under many of these posts. “I would have preferred that the cover didn’t contain a Oprah Book Club seal.”  Now this is a very common thought contrary to what most people would think.  It’s time that publishing companies start listening more to their customers, the avid readers and book collectors on this one.  We are all prepared to buy books but we’d prefer you omit publishing them with book club seals.

I know publishers probably think that the seal of approval encourages the public to buy more books.  Avid readers who buy a lot of books don’t need a seal of approval on a book to be convinced to buy it.  Most of us do our research and we know what we want to buy and read.  There are people who just refuse to buy any books with book club and literary prize seals on them.  In my opinion, these so-called seals of approval make the value of the first edition decrease.

Now after pre-ordering my copy of Becoming from Amazon, it arrived sadly with the dreaded Oprah seal.  So I had to hunt for a copy with no seal.  I realized that the British copies do not have any seals on them.  On the hunt for a British copy, I found and ordered a copy of Becoming from The Book Depository.  My copy came from the UK and it doesn’t contain the Oprah seal of approval.  Thank goodness was my sigh of relief once the box was finally opened.  Becoming looking perfectly beautiful.

So what can we do to try to get books to not contain seals of approval from celebrity book clubs?  I think we should all take to our computers and write letters to publishing companies, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc and urge them to stop printing book club seals on book covers or at least print only half of them with seals.  At least this way there would be a possibility for book lovers to be able to buy a book without a seal.  This could be done since now we know that they produced all of the UK copies without seals.  What’s stopping publishing houses from publishing only half the books with seals?  Comment below and let me know what you think about this.

6 Replies to “The Seal of Approval”

  1. Great to see the comments dilemma fixed!
    Glad you managed to get the clean copy you wanted, I think that is important when you like to collect books, to be honest it doesn’t really worry me, maybe because I like to move books on, I have too many! But they are something of a work of art, and so putting promotional material on the front detracts certainly. What annoys me perhaps even more are the price stickers that destroy the cover!

    1. Agreed! Thanks so much for letting me know and showing me how to fix it. This blogging world never ceases to astound me with its technological complexities. 😅 As for seals, yes stickers are exasperating to say the least. Publicity is killing the product at this point.😑 so have you read Texaco yet and if not are you up for a buddy read of it this year?

  2. “I know publishers probably think that the seal of approval encourages the public to buy more books. Avid readers who buy a lot of books don’t need a seal of approval on a book to be convinced to buy it.” — But that’s the point. They aren’t trying to reach the avid reader; they’re trying to reach the general public who maybe doesn’t read that much but will read something that they know a lot of people are talking about…or that Oprah likes.

    I mean, I get it because I feel the same way about movie tie-in covers, but for marketing purposes, I understand that they’re not trying to get the people who are already buying the book but those who may overlook it.

  3. Hi Didi – In a past era, I’d be able to mail you a charming and / or fun card to say thank you for sharing your book reviews and inspiring me to re-connect with reading. I recently watched your video on your 2019 journal, so I imagine you also love images. At any rate, the point is to say thank you for the care and fun and candidness of your videos – and thank you for so generously sharing them. Its clear you care a lot. Maybe think of this little comment note along side a fancy letter press card !

    1. Hello Lisa thanks so much for your kind words and and support of Brown Girl Reading across my the net. Very cool! A fancy letter press card, hmm sounds like a nice idea. Will keep that in mind. Happy reading! and Happy Black History Month! 🙂

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