26 votes

Fifty very bad book covers for literary classics

13 comments

  1. [7]
    eve
    Link
    These are so dumb, they're great. A couple in there had the style of mid 2000's text books. Dear God, truly they are awful. I am so not surprised at the atrocities that are the Jane Austen and...

    These are so dumb, they're great. A couple in there had the style of mid 2000's text books. Dear God, truly they are awful. I am so not surprised at the atrocities that are the Jane Austen and George Elliot covers. Considering most media doesn't even get Era appropriate costuming correct, it's no surprise someone making a cover for period pieces wouldn't have a clue. This guy's in a suit, they were fancy back then too right? A dress is a dress? The best one is the distinctly Victorian version of the Pride and Prejudice cover. Definitely not Regency, damn near 100 years off lol

    4 votes
    1. [6]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      I was surprised how many versions of "A Picture of Dorian Gray" put a woman on the cover. Is Dorian a woman's name in some cultures? I've only ever known men with that name. (Although, I do know a...

      I was surprised how many versions of "A Picture of Dorian Gray" put a woman on the cover. Is Dorian a woman's name in some cultures? I've only ever known men with that name. (Although, I do know a woman named "Dorain". Perhaps they misread the title?)

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        kfwyre
        Link Parent
        I suspect a large number of these were algorithmically generated. Write a quick script to toss together covers for public domain books, attach them to the already freely available texts, and then...

        I suspect a large number of these were algorithmically generated. Write a quick script to toss together covers for public domain books, attach them to the already freely available texts, and then make some money off the people that purchase those versions -- no human vetting or design required (which possibly explains why so many of these books have questionable covers).

        Back when I used Kindle their store had a lot of books that were of dubious authorship, including some that seemed to be not just assembled by algorithm but fully written by them. I remember downloading some sort of informational book and it was basically information cobbled together from Wikipedia and web searches that clearly hadn't once been human-read or -edited.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          krg
          Link Parent
          Yea... the fact that these are all public domain books that are mass reproduced by digital "publishers" makes this list kinda asinine and an obvious honeypot for advertising dollars. I wish we saw...

          Yea... the fact that these are all public domain books that are mass reproduced by digital "publishers" makes this list kinda asinine and an obvious honeypot for advertising dollars. I wish we saw bad book covers from legitimate publishers in this list rather than algorithmically generated book covers from pop-up digital "publishers."

          6 votes
          1. Thra11
            Link Parent
            Yeah. That was my thought too. There are so many actual books by current authors where the cover bears little or no relation to the content. It seems particularly common when: The author is new (I...

            Yeah. That was my thought too. There are so many actual books by current authors where the cover bears little or no relation to the content. It seems particularly common when:

            • The author is new (I believe the publisher will usually commission the cover art. The author may get to okay it, but a new writer may not have much say, or may not be willing to rock the boat too much).
            • A foreign publisher has bought the rights to a book. They don't usually buy the rights to the original cover artwork, so they have to do something different, and there's even more distance between those making the cover and those who are likely to care about its relevance to the text.

            It's kind of weird really that novelists sometimes get so little say in what is arguably an integral part of their artwork. Sometimes the publisher even gets to choose or influence the title. I know one author whose book included a <thing>, but wasn't really about <thing>. The publisher made them put <thing> in the book's title because <thing> is hot right now and they believed it would sell better.

            2 votes
        2. joplin
          Link Parent
          Oh yeah, that's a really good point. That hadn't occurred to me, but I wouldn't be surprised at all.

          Oh yeah, that's a really good point. That hadn't occurred to me, but I wouldn't be surprised at all.

          2 votes
      2. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I guess "Dorian" in Brazilian Portuguese sounds weakly masculine, especially if you're multilingual, but kinda neutral if you're not. It also sounds like a Star Trek name. Take that as you will :P

        I guess "Dorian" in Brazilian Portuguese sounds weakly masculine, especially if you're multilingual, but kinda neutral if you're not.

        It also sounds like a Star Trek name. Take that as you will :P

        3 votes
  2. MonkeyPants
    Link
    I really like the cover for Frankenstein. Mary Shelley created an incredibly eloquent and poignant monster. In the book, the monster is spurned by everyone, and is tormented by the complete lack...

    I really like the cover for Frankenstein.

    Mary Shelley created an incredibly eloquent and poignant monster.

    In the book, the monster is spurned by everyone, and is tormented by the complete lack of kindness or empathy anyone shows him, purely based on his outward appearance.

    The monster ultimately lashes out with murder, but it is hard not to feel sympathetic with him. (There is a precedent in US legal code called ugly baby syndrome, where those who were ugly babies are presumed to have been mistreated when younger and are more likely to receive leniency.)

    As the monster rightly points out, his creator not only rejected the monster but also refused to create a mate for him so that the monster might have just one person to keep him company.

    I can't help but feel Mary Shelley felt more than a little warmth for her monsterous creation.

    4 votes
  3. jgb
    Link
    Horrendous but unsurprising. I think it's a pretty common (and dubiously moral) practice to copy classic books from Project Gutenberg into Word and upload them to Amazon's print on demand service....

    Horrendous but unsurprising. I think it's a pretty common (and dubiously moral) practice to copy classic books from Project Gutenberg into Word and upload them to Amazon's print on demand service. Frustratingly because this tends to make them eligible for Prime they show quite highly on search results. I imagine this catches out a fair few naive buyers.

    Why however the serious publisher Wordsworth Classics tends to put such bad images on their covers is a real mystery. In fairness to them they price their editions extremely competitively but it wouldn't cost anything to exercise a bit of taste!

    1 vote
  4. FishFingus
    Link
    I recommend also Lousy Book Covers for similar monstrosities. Thanks for these. Particularly enjoyable were the 3D aberrations.

    I recommend also Lousy Book Covers for similar monstrosities.

    Thanks for these. Particularly enjoyable were the 3D aberrations.

    1 vote
  5. KonstantineBeridze
    Link
    I wonder if a lot of these are simply because the publisher wanted to save on a designer? It is such a shame that so many companies overlook the need for appropriate aesthetics for the sake of profit.

    I wonder if a lot of these are simply because the publisher wanted to save on a designer? It is such a shame that so many companies overlook the need for appropriate aesthetics for the sake of profit.

  6. ImmobileVoyager
    Link
    It could be "so bad it's good", but those have gone full circle and are back to bad again. And while we're talking in idioms, "don't judge a book by its cover" takes its fullest meaning here ;-)

    It could be "so bad it's good", but those have gone full circle and are back to bad again.

    And while we're talking in idioms, "don't judge a book by its cover" takes its fullest meaning here ;-)

  7. Grendel
    Link
    That cover for Crime and Punishment was ridiculous. The look on his face was just comical.

    That cover for Crime and Punishment was ridiculous. The look on his face was just comical.