About face


headline_covers_austenSomebody apparently got wind of the fact that some Janeites were a little miffed at having Jane Austen compared to Barbara Cartland and Danielle Steele. As we reported previously, Headline Books is releasing new editions of Jane Austen’s novels, jazzed up to look like modern chick lit novels. The first article said that the novels were being repackaged to make Jane Austen seem more like Cartland or Steele, but in a Reuters article (via Yahoo!), a Headline representative insists they are doing nothing of the sort.

That accusation was strongly disputed by Headline’s Evans who said: “It is not making them like Barbara Cartland or Danielle Steel. This is not making them look like Mills and Boon.”

The reception is still mixed amongst U.K. Janeites.

Patrick Stokes, chairman of the Jane Austen Society which boasts 2,000 members in Britain, was delighted: “I am all for it. Any publicity is good publicity — as long as it is within the bounds of decency.”

But the bid to update the author of “Pride and Prejudice” for a new generation was greeted with derision by Patricia Clarke of the London branch of the Jane Austen Group.

“It is a pity that everything has to be dumbed down. I know it gets people into books but I think she is classic and pure. If you dumb down, you turn her into (mass produced romance specialist) Mills and Boon.”

We concur to a point.

He said that in Britain last year, a total of 160,000 copies were sold of all Jane Austen’s books compared to 190,000 for just one Danielle Steel novel.

Possibly because many people already own them? Just saying.

The article also contained a better image of all six covers (above) but they’ll never top our favorite cover of a Jane Austen novel.

We linked this in another forum, commenting that Captain Wentworth appeared to have fallen off an Old Spice bottle, and a friend responded, “Don’t worry, Regency Barbie is there to rescue him!”