08 February, 2013

Real or Not Real? Cover Up - Tiny Rant (1)


So by now you've probably seen the Jezebel post about hideous new covers for some classic books like The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

If you haven't, click here and then come back.

So. Faber & Faber (The Bell Jar) I think is a Macmillan company in the US, and this is the UK cover. I actually kind of like the cover art, at second glance. It's not so much sexualizing the book as evoking the thought of a woman applying a mask, pretending to be happy, but the mask is slipping--and she's almost out of makeup. I don't like it as much as the US trade paperback cover (shown later in this post). 

The Breakfast at Tiffany's cover is from Viking which is a Penguin imprint. It's not so much pandering to a female buyer as it is, well, just not as classic as the first edition:


Gorgeous.

I feel you should only be allowed to tote that around in public if you look like this:


Image from Mac and Me

So that leaves Night & Day by Virginia Woolf, an Anne of Green Gables omnibus, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's feminist Herland. Here comes the rant! News flash: these covers were selected by not-real publishers. These are self-published, Print-on-Demand (or POD) titles from Createspace.com and Readaclassic.com. 

You know why there seem to be so many different copies of books like The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, or Moby Dick by Herman Melville? Once the copyright for a work has lapsed and no one holds license or title to it, anyone can go and reproduce it and resell it--this is called Public Domain. So someone had the bright idea to take this farm girl photo and slap it on Anne of Green Gables, never mind that the model in the photo is blonde and kind of skanky looking, while Anne is supposed to be a sparky redhead. And while big publishers once in a while mess up covers on a huge scale, I don't think any of them have quite let their standards fall this low.

So people, calm down. 

When you go to the bookstore, this is probably the cover you will see on The Bell Jar:


A lovely design from HarperPerennial

And this is probably the most common cover art for Anne of Green Gables:


Or some variation of this. 

Dover, who, yes, is a real publisher, and not some guy with a computer and Windows Paint, has these nice-looking thrift edition covers for Herland:



Kind of classic, really. 

And Night & Day by Virginia Woolf might look like:


Oxford World's Classics (above), Penguin Classics (below)


Very serious, indeed.

My favorite cover is actually this one:


From Vintage books.

So relax, people. These self-pub shops don't have oversight, no one to go, "Wait--I think Anne's supposed to be a ginger..." Most of the time this lack of oversight is why I refuse to read books from Createspace/Smashwords or any self-pubbed outlet. 

Also, while we're at it, stop complaining about Twilight-ized classics. As a designer and someone who works with book publicity, I actually thought that was a kind of clever marketing decision, and I'd covet them if I didn't already have like, 6 copies of Pride and Prejudice that have better binding than the cheap paperback one. 

Ok, truth: I covet them anyway. They are so pretty! If only the binding were sturdier. (Yes, I think about these things a lot.)

</rant>

Do you have any covers you love, or ones you love to hate? Leave a comment below.

6 comments:

  1. I had on my outrage face when I first heard about blonde Anne a few weeks ago--what a relief to know it's POD and we won't be assaulted with that travesty whenever we're in bookstores.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  2. I had not seen this article. interesting. i didn't even know there were pay on demand books. I admit though that I don't really love the twilight copy new covers. it just makes them look really generic. bit that's just me. and who wants a cover for Anne of green gables with a blond on it? shudder.

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  3. Yep, print on demand is how a lot of indie authors used to produce their work before eBooks. That's a whole 'nother rant.

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  4. I have been known to buy books based on their covers. If it gets me to pick it up because it has a cover that catches my eye a little bit more, I'm all for it!

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  5. I know but did you see the covers (on the Jezebel article)? The Anne one is just wrong... I kind of like the Faber cover for The Bell Jar, but that's all.

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  6. YEP! I wish more people realized that, though. It's driving me crazy having to explain what POD is.

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