Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, with a series of questions to kick-start discussions about reading habits. Anyone can join in. Just choose a question and leave a link to your post here.

  • Describe one of your reading habits.
  • Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
  • What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
  • Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
  • Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
  • Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!
The Harry Potter novels aren't numbered. The titles and their order is ingrained into my mind from countless re-readings. But what if an unfamiliar reader was to pick one up?

The Harry Potter novels aren’t numbered. The titles and their order is ingrained into my mind from countless re-readings. But what if an unfamiliar reader was to pick one up?

Today’s musing is a bookish rant

There is one particular issue I have with a number of publishers.  It’s a simple concept that I find obvious and I cannot fathom why it isn’t standard practice when designing a book cover: series numbers.

Books in a series are written in that order for a reason. Sure, often they’re written so that you should be able to start anywhere, but the simple fact is that starting at book number one is the most obvious way to begin a series.

So why do publishers rarely number each book in a series? I often find myself at a library staring a novel with its series name proudly written below its title.  So I scrutinise the cover to check that I’ve got the first one. No number. At this point, I already consider the publisher to have failed but I open the book up to see if it’s written inside the cover.  Somewhere, usually several pages in, there’ll be an “other books in the series” page. Perfect! Exactly what I need. Except the list isn’t numbered.  And this particular novel doesn’t appear on it.  Initially, yes, it seems like I’ve got the latest novel in the series and there are several before it.  Put it back on the shelf and go look for the first.

But what if this is a late edition, and novels printed after it are added to this page? Are publishers leaving this book off the list because it’s obvious it’s a part of the series, or because it’s the latest in the series? Is it truly so difficult to, at the very least, number the books on the “other books” page or, something I don’t imagine can be very difficult, find a place on the spine for the book’s position in the series?

I cannot count the number of series I never began reading because I couldn’t figure out which book on the shelf came first. And I cannot think of a single reason not to include a simple number somewhere on the cover.

What do you guys think? Have you ever been frustrated by this?

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11 thoughts on “Musing Mondays

    • The series book that I’m featuring today has an easily distinguishable order in the titles, which are named for the days of the week: Blue Monday, Tuesday’s Gone, and now, finally, Waiting for Wednesday.

      • That is an excellent way to make it obvious! Well, unless your books are really popular and you end up writing an 8th…
        And I hadn’t even thought about when buying online but I’ve had that problem at Book Depository, too. Goodread’s method of writing the series and number in brackets after the title has saved me a number of times.

    • Absolutely! Authors like Simon R Green who have written so many books in several series would be impossible to tackle without separate lists. Luckily, his publisher seems to know what he’s doing. His “other books” page is full, but very well organised. Others could learn something from his books.

  1. spinesandcovers says:

    Not knowing which book comes first or next in a series is definitely annoying. I haven’t really thought about it before now, I just automatically pull up the Goodreads app. Great discussion!

  2. I’m with you. Even the Little House series wasn’t numbered, so you had to look up the order in which to read them. I used to have to look it up each time I read the series. If it’s a planned series, it would be nice to have the numbers on the spines.

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