On ‘Recycling’ Vintage Books and What It’s Worth

‘Cassandra by Chance’ by Betty Neels original cover from 1973,  opposite a 1990’s reprint of the same book.

While you’ll often find art-work reproduced from vintage pulp-fiction, the early Mills and Boon and Harlequin artwork tends to get overlooked. Some of those old covers feature the coolest artwork, and I am sorry they don’t reproduce it when they reprint collector’s editions of books. Once in a (very long) while I come across large collections of M&B from the 60’s and 70’s, and if I am lucky I might find some of the 1950’s hardcovers (I have featured a picture of one in a previous blog on Betty Neels) which are really a lot of fun to go through.

You’ll also find some cool cover-art on the Women’s Weekly Fiction magazines. Unfortunately you will also find some ‘interesting’ uses of it.

A few days ago on Twitter, Penguin books posted a link saying they ‘loved the use of vintage covers on these notebooks’ Thinking someone is reproducing old cover-art on notebook covers I click on the link to have a look. They’re not actually reproducing the cover art, they are removing the covers from old books and using them to make notebooks. For a princely sum of $18 mind. You can order the text block of the book, sans cover,  to be sent for an additional $5. I suppose that is something.

I don’t know how I feel about defacing and destroying vintage paperbacks to make a largely disposable item. I have seen worse, however.

On an online-site-that-shall-not-be-named, a seller-that-shall-not-be-named was selling purses made out of Women’s Weekly Fiction magazine covers. The purses were, they claimed, fairly fragile as they were made of paper, and would probably hold up six months. I was browsing the covers with a mix of horror and intrigue when I stumbled across a purse made with a Lucilla Andrews cover. Before I could stop myself I had shot an email off to the seller begging them to stop.

“You can’t sell these” I was told huffily “They’re not worth anything”

So as every year, thousands upon thousands of vintage paperbacks are sacrificed to recycling, or to, er, “quirky” ideas like the aforementioned. For every collector that treasures their out-of-print and/or vintage paperbacks, there are probably dozens of people who claim they’re “not worth anything”

And every year we might lose another book, the final book, long out-of-print, once-cherished, to the recycling pile, never to be read or enjoyed by anyone again.