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Cover design

I'm sure there are lots of things to be said about book covers, and I'm sure a lot of us have browsed through the lovely Seven Hundred Penguins in bookshops (have a browse online at, but I have been moved to start this thread by some posts on the Caustic Cover Critic blog about amusingly inappropriate cover designs. Some publishers specialise in republishing out-of-copyright books, and one in particular has made some dubious cover art selections. Have a look at these posts:


The cover of Hardy's Wessex Tales in the third post has to be seen to be believed.

Actually, that might make me go back to Two On a Tower - clearly a litle-known collaboration with H G Wells in his sci-fi period.

Great fun - thanks.

At least The Trumpet Major has a trumpet on the cover...

Hilarious - thanks for that, Chibiabos!

A new post this morning:

I even get a name-check. Must not let fame go to my head. A rather superb Sherlock Holmes cover there too.

Well done, G!  Good namecheck.  And more corkers, apart from Conan Doyle - the Lawrence is great, but the Jerome K Jerome has me in stitches.

If it weren't for the dubious production standards of print-on-demand publishers, I'd be sorely tempted to buy one - if only for the kitsch/novelty value.  Who wouldn't want to be seen reading this?

Simon The Sponge

I love the complete Angler  Smile

The more I look at it, the more I think Cranford is the pick of the bunch. I imagine it's the only edition with a pair of headphones on the cover.

Ah, but The Complete Angler is the only one where a persistent historical spelling error has been corrected!

Dunno whose blog this is, but he seems to be an admirer of B.S. Johnson, so must be a jolly decent sort...

I assumed 'compleat' was an acceptable variant spelling at one point. Part of the book's charm nowadays, I'd say. It's on the TBR - I flicked through a copy several months ago and, far from thinking "Oh dear, a bunch of boring fish", thought it looked quite, quite wonderful.

Er, I'm sure it was, Gareth. Lame though the joke was, I was hoping it didn't require an emoticon!  Wink

You're right, it was a lame joke Wink

I don't do any others...

I realise I'm hardly in a position to point the finger myself.

Those are pretty funny!  Some of them made my jaw hit the floor....

But how are they getting away it?  There is more copyright violation there than you can shake a stick at!

And it seems that they are using cheap labour that has no idea of the content or cultural context of these books.  And that is really bad......

Surely 'lame' is just a synonym for 'subtle'?

Inspired. Quite inspired. Never in a million years could I have thought up these covers!

There's more...

Because nothing says French Revolution like a kitten in a briefcase.

And there are lots of very literal Wilkie Collins covers like this one:

If you have a spare few minutes, it's certainly worth browsing the Tutis Classics website to see what they have to offer.
Green Jay

I picked up a copy of Ballet Shoes the other day and found it has been repackaged for its 70th birthday (or something, don't have it with me as I didn't buy it). Unfortunately its repackaging fits with the current trend for anything from books to gardening tools to Lego being made in vile  shades of pink to attract girl consumers. Ballet Shoes is a fantastic story for girls (and boys? Who knows if they ever read it?) and yes, it is about ballet, but about so much more, and there is the wonderful Petrova with her engineering skills!! I just know that if I had picked up this cover when I was a child, with its icky shade of icing-pink and its silvery ribbons and dangling satin pumps, it would have put me right off! It would have appeared as an utterly saccharine and silly story. I do wish packaging could be a bit more brave, and tasteful!!

I loved ballet - or the idea of ballet - as a child and had a few factual books about it, but I just don't remember them being so extremely pink and in cliched 'feminine' style. They tended to have serious covers with photos of professional dancers on them.
Or you could have a real dancer's feet, with worn shoes and calluses, which is the reality of ballet.

Will see if I can find it on Amazon and post a link.
Green Jay

There are some beautiful appealing covers on this site, with a list of all of Noel Streatfeild's many publications. They don't immediately look like books only for girls. She did write a number of books with "shoes" in the title, but looking on Amazon it seems that some of her others were relaunched to fit this "shoes" theme, thus a book about ice-skating originally called White Boots was sold as Skating Shoes. The Amazon list looks like a real brand, as if she just reuses the same old formula, whereas from the site devoted to her many books, most I imagine out of print, her writing was much wider than this. She worked as a social worker and was well aware that children's lives could be hard, and she wrote about some gritty subjects.    

I can't find the cover I saw - newish, but in a secondhand bookshop - but contrast these with the ones on the site at the top.

Some fairly recent cover designs for Ballet Shoes have been more tasteful but still very "sweet". Here is a recent version of White Boots. Interesting to see that they send out a message mainly of glitz and glamour.

There was a lovely disapppointed review on Amazon saying Ballet Shoes was a misleading title as there was hardly anything at all about ballet in it!

There are some hardback Penguins that are about to be published that won't be everyone's cup of tea but look quite exciting to me, perhaps mainly for their apparent chunkiness...


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