You have to be impressed with a publisher that takes the time to respond to a curmudgeonly gripe. And so, according to the response to yesterday’s blog post, the Library of America has not changed the paper of their dust jackets—just the coating on the paper.
Which raises the interesting existential crisis for the day. The Library of America notes that the changed cover is a technological improvement. It’s progress. And, so here I find myself (yet again) standing athwart history, yelling “Stop!” I like the old glossy paper. LOA says I will grow to like the new scuff-free matte finish. Suddenly I wonder if my wife secretly works for the Library of America.
I habitually dislike change. Janet (my long-suffering wife) is always merrily relating story after story (after story) of changes in my life which I instinctively disliked, but grew to love over time. So, when LOA insisted that given time, I will like the new covers better than the old, my blood froze.
Also worth noting—the reply by Library of America says they made the change in coating years ago. So, I checked my books. My three volume Philip Dick set has the old coating, and it is recently published. Then I noticed my Vonnegut volume (the 1963-1973 one) has the new matte finish—I hadn’t noticed (I haven’t read it yet). Which then caused me to wonder why the change was immediately apparent when I got my Bierce volume but not when I got my Vonnegut volume.
All of this has reminded me of something I have occasionally lamented. As noted many times here in the past—I own a lot of LOA volumes. Every now and then, I end up with one without a dust jacket. The volumes look good without the dust jacket, just not as good. I’ve occasionally toyed with the idea of buying a new copy to get the dust jacket—but that seems a bit pathetic, and quite honestly, it isn’t worth that much. The dust jacket market is the sort of market that would collapse under the weight of the overhead to even offer the product. Sigh.
In the end, I will begrudgingly forgive the Library of America for changing the gloss. (I am sure there are enormous sighs of relief and great rejoicing at LOA headquarters right now.) I’m still not happy with the change, but far be it from me to resist progress.