Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Kremlin Letter by Noel Behn

Fourth edition hardcover from 1966 printed by Simon and Schuster
Noel Behn's first novel and spy thriller was made most famous by John Huston's film adaptation from 1970, several years after The Kremlin Letter was first published. The novel and film both tell the story of several American intelligence officers clandestinely fighting against the Russians at the height of the Cold War to capture this eponymous letter. Filled with intrigue, Behn's book is equally as engaging as the movie and definitely deserves a read. Along with beautiful, simple jacket design by Paul Bacon, this edition is particularly amazing and unique because of the marketing strategy employed by Simon and Schuster. As stated on the front cover and on the inside, "IF you can put this book down without reading it to the end, you may return it to your bookseller with the seal unbroken for a full refund." Below are pictures of the seal (which clearly remains intact—I read a different copy), that begins on page 67 and binds the remaining pages of the book. Simon and Schuster were apparently convinced that readers would love the book so much that they offered this free return option if the reader didn't like the first few chapters. I have never seen another book or publisher employ this technique, and I'm guessing for that reason it didn't work very well and wasn't worth the effort. Still, I think it's amazing that they even tried.

The seal pictured from the front

Side view of the seal showing it "unbroken" 

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