Posted by: Tony Carson | 15 October, 2007

Ian Rankin, cheating you all the way to the bank

So Ian Rankin has just published another Rebus, Exit Music, the 18th and perhaps the last novel in his series about Detective Inspector John Rebus.

Good time for a bitch:

I love Rebus, but not enough to buy every one of the 18 books multiple times — like Rankin and his frigging publisher are trying to trick me into doing. And they’ve tricked you, too. Admit it.

It’s smarmy and slimy and I’ve sworn off Rankin as a result.

Who remembers a title? Especially when it’s one of 18, written over as many years. You don’t. But you remember the jacket, especially if it is part of a stylized theme, as has been the case with Rankin’s Rebus.

So, rather than looking inside for a list of his books and copywrite date — the titles, after all, are unmemorable — you rely on your sight memory of the covers when you’re at the books store. And Rankin knows this, so what does he do? Every few years he changes the theme of his covers and reissues all his bloody books.

This is a deliberate and offensive marketing ploy, a nefarious twist on caveat emptor. It smells of cheating and it stinks of greed —  as if Rankin hasn’t already raked in enough.

I hate being diddled, so no more Rankin and no more Rebus.


  1. Well, i love the Rebus novels, and i do have all of them, and no, i can’t say i share any of your complaints. The titles aren’t “unmemorable” – they’re all taken from songs. Besides, i doubt it’s Rankin’s decision to re-issue the books with different covers – and his are not the only books to which this happens. Really – your rant is rather baffling. But whatever. I’ve just now ordered Exit Music from and am looking forward to getting it!

  2. I have to agree with Radical Centrist. If you’re not bright enough to recognize a book you’ve already read, because the cover is different, then perhaps you should try those with larger print, fewer words, and more pictures.
    A quick scan of the back cover of a Rebus novel should bring to mind whether or not you’ve already “solved” the mystery in question.
    Blaming the author personally for this common marketing technique is just silly.
    I would have expected a much higher IQ from a Rebus fan.

  3. It isn’t a problem for those who read one book a year…

  4. I wouldn’t know, but I’ll take your word as the expert.

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