"Publishers worry about book covers," says Libby Purves in the Daily Mail. "They have long meetings, fret about impact and marketing, and copy one another's ideas." So what about the new cover on the 30th anniversary edition of Jilly Cooper's Riders? The publishers of this saucy novel about horsemen jumping fences by day and hopping beds by night must have thought long and hard before making their decision. Did they get it right?
No, say most pundits. The original cover of the "magnificent 1985 bonkbuster" was spot on, Purves says: "a peachy female bottom in tight jodhpurs, with a big tanned male hand in a red hunting jacket cuff resting rather intimately on it". Now we have a digitally altered, slimmer bottom and "a smaller, more tentative masculine paw touching it higher and further out".
This has caused much mockery. Rupert Campbell-Black, the caddish hero of Riders, would disdain such prudishness, says chick-lit novelist Louise Mensch; the original was funny, this one's just bland, says author Victoria Hislop: why does Transworld, which is publishing the new edition, want this cover to be less sexy than the original, given the success of Fifty Shades of Grey?
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"At least on Jilly Cooper's cover it's the woman holding the whip," says Purves. "Unlike the weedy, submissive heroine of Fifty Shades signing sex contracts with a rich man, the Cooper heroine is an Olympic rider." Purves is right, but perhaps the publishers are smarter than critics think. I doubt they'd have had a fraction of the publicity if they'd stuck with the original cover. Now they may have a bestseller all over again.
The boring world of billionaires
I doubt it was much fun. Billionaires aren't renowned for their jolliness. Sir Ian, for example, is described as a teetotaller and keen walker who "lives a relatively modest lifestyle", moving from economy to business-class travel only when he turned 70. Why? What on earth made him wait until he was 70?
Modest lifestyles or not, one thing lots of billionaires want is a huge house and, on this score, apparently, London disappoints. According to Beauchamp Estates, quoted in The Daily Telegraph, the capital's top properties are like "broom cupboards" compared to those in many billionaires' home countries. But what about all those billionaires who've been allowed to knock properties together or hollow out basements? Altogether 140 billionaires now live in London, more than anywhere else in the world, so they've managed somehow.
Tabloid money: Britain's £4bn dating game
"The independent body set up to decide MPs' pay rises, Ipsa, is clearly as divorced from real life as our politicians," says The Sun. "We are told they need a 10.3% rise to £74,000 a year. The economy is booming, says Ipsa... so why not? Here's why. Millions of other public-sector workers' pay has stood still for years. And inflation is zero, so it's not as if MPs' salaries aren't keeping pace." There are "sound reasons" for keeping all public-sector rises low while Britain's deficit remains so high.
"Singletons are now spending an average of £120 on a date, according to the Centre of Economic Business Research," says Alison Phillips in the Daily Mirror. "Inflation has certainly hit two bottles of Lambrini and a kebab since my days on the scene. Now, apparently, the dating process generates £4bn each year for the British economy proving that while money may not buy love, it costs it nevertheless."
What does BBC world affairs editor, John Simpson, feel about Tony Blair requesting £330,000, largely for charity, for a 20-minute speech at a famine conference? asks Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail. "It's rather close to home. The request was made via Simpson's sister-in-law, Gina Kruger, [who] co-founded talent agency Kruger Cowne with her husband, Mark Cowne."
EL James is reworking Fifty Shades of Grey from the point of view of the hero, Christian Grey, says Carole Malone in the Daily Mirror. Which says she's a "one-trick pony Still, with £62m in the bank, why should she care?"
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