There has been quite the kerfuffle this week over book covers. In particular, the cover of one edition of Justine Larbalestier's novel Liar. Let me summarize: white girl on cover + black girl protagonist in story = NOT COOL.
I'm going somewhere more lighthearted with this post, however. As some of you may have noticed, I have a LibraryThing widget in the right-hand column, that shows six random books from my "library" at any given time. This morning, I noticed that the wrong cover popped up for my copy of A Farewell to Arms. I own this one, not this one, and I assure you that I actively pick the correct cover for my edition of each book the moment I log it into LibraryThing. (Current theory: LT was briefly unable to access my chosen cover online, and defaulted to another cover. I've now fixed it.)
So, why am I so darn attached to my editions? It's the same text inside, right? And this isn't a situation like the Liar cover, where the image on the outside contradicts the content inside. This is just... my copy. And I want to be very clear about which copy I have. But why should I care?
Children's books are different. I actively hunt for older editions of my favorite books to add to my daughter's library because I want her to have the covers that feature the original illustrations, not some new drawings the publishers must have thought would make the book more appealing to modern audiences. In these cases, changing the cover does, to my mind, violate the content inside, because the illustrations are part of that content. (For example, The Great Brain series. Yes. No.)
But what about those adult books with a variety of covers? Do you care which one you buy? If you lose a book, do you try to replace it with the same edition or cover? Is it just about nostalgia -- we want to own the version of the book that reminds us best of when we first read it? Or is there something more to this?
I open the comments for discussion.
And yes, Serious Girl has her own LibraryThing account, and she currently has more books listed than I do.