The 30th anniversary of Jilly Cooper’s seminal 'bonkbuster' Riders will be celebrated with a glossy reissue.
Fans of feverish fornication, fetlocks and the raunchy exploits of Rupert Campbell-Black and his countryside set will be well familiar with the book’s original steamy cover –a female bottom clad in tight white jodhpurs with a male hand creeping naughtily towards the seam.
“Sex and horses: who could ask for more?” Quipped the Sunday Telegraph back in 1985, as the novel went on to become a runaway success.
But fans of the horsey sex fest will note a difference in the 2015 version of the cover – namely that the hand on the bottom in question has been digitally reduced and moved a distance away from the cleft of the lady rider's buttocks.
The Times cites friends of Cooper who say the author has described the decision to change the cover as “bonkers” – though Cooper herself has declined to comment officially.
As Lynn Enright writes for The Pool: “On the original cover, the man’s hand was firmly placed on the cheek of the woman’s bottom, his index finger resting on the middle seam of her ultra-white jodhpurs It was a hand only someone with whom you were having sex would be welcome to adopt.”
She adds: "It is, to be fair, still a fair intimate hand-on-bottom position (again, you'd hope only a lover would adopt it really) but it certainly does lose some of the sexier connotations of the 1985 cover."
Reaction to the change has been mixed.
Marian Keyes, whose endorsement appears on the new cover, said she found the old dust jacket offensive and still finds the new one “invasive”, though she concedes “it does look less gropey and forced.”
Feminist author Germaine Greer, however described the new cover as “rather boring.” She added: “I suppose I’d rather see men’s bottoms being felt by women’s hands.”
Meanwhile Victoria Hislop has decreed the new cover "totally unsexy".
As commenters have pointed out, it does seem odd to sex down a book cover in a market currently dominated by EL James' S&M Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.
What do you think?