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Best worst book covers ever

Posted March 21, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

Flavorwire has an amusing bit on the worst covers for classic works of literature ever. Some were very droll, like the Brazilan cover of The Shining which looked like it had been lifted from a 1980s hair care advert (blonde woman, power hair, shoulder pads, absolutely nothing about psychic kids or haunted htoels or nothing). Some were just doomed by the poor typology and design aesthetics of the 1970s, the Time that Taste Forgot.

My personal personal fave for balls to wall inappropriate craziness however was this Wizard of Oz cover, fetchingly reimagined as a Clancyesque technothriller.

I particularly like it because there's no language gap to explain how the cover artist got it so horribly wrong. The Shining at least had a sort of thematic link to hair care through the, er, shiny thing. Which hair care ads value very highly.

Normally publishers will send you copies of the art work to approve before printing, and normally unless you're a dick you'll just let any small, inexplicable quirkiness (like the bizarro helicopter on the US cover of Final Impact) go through to the keeper, unless it's completely out of hand.

Like the cover of Felafel in Italy.

I dont recall ever seeing prerelease artwork for this, and Im sort of glad I didn't. It's now one of my favorite covers, and I cherish the two remaining copies in my possession. What is that car. Why is it parked on an alien beach planet. Is the felafel guy in the boot.

None of these questions were ever answered. But that's cool. Because none of my royalties ever turned up either. Despite the book being a best seller there.

Alora.

18 Responses to ‘Best worst book covers ever’

Bondiboy66 asserts...

Posted March 21, 2013

I could be wrong, but I think its a Lincoln Continental. Horrible, ugly, oversized pieces of shite. Fun fact: they can engage reverse all by themselves, if left parked and running. As my father found out when the one he had just repaired decided to back itself into our front fence and knock it over....

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Lulu puts forth...

Posted March 21, 2013

Almost *nothing* will get bookish women of a certain age angrier than giving Anne of Green Gables blonde hair on a low-rent book cover.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/feb/08/anne-green-gables-blonde-red-hair

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted March 21, 2013

yes, but it might encourage a few more readers of the male persuasion

Blindwilly is gonna tell you...

Posted March 21, 2013

As a ginger I was rather upset that another blonde had muscled in on our turf, but as a bloke, well, I was less upset when I saw the cover...

Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21, 2013

Plaid.

Urk. Where the FK did that come from?

JG is gonna tell you...

Posted March 21, 2013

Preposterous. Anne of Green Gables has to have red hair. It's one of the reasons I loved the books as a youngster. How dare they make her blonde on that trashy book cover!!

sapphyre puts forth...

Posted March 22, 2013

In complete agreement with @Lulu and @Indigo :)

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Blarkon mutters...

Posted March 21, 2013

I was a big fan of the Terran Trade Authority books - which were reprints of older SF covers. Anyway someone put this together - which is great if you remember the TTA.

http://vimeo.com/29549708#

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21, 2013

Ah, Anakin Schwarzenegger. I remember him.

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HAVOCK21 would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2013

ANGELS of FKN Vengeance..NO FKN B52 or Pilot on the fkn cover!.....fkn lame as is ya ask me!

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Lobes mumbles...

Posted March 21, 2013

Hah! What a pathetic bunch of covers. I judge those books - unreadable.

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Nocturnalist has opinions thus...

Posted March 21, 2013

I've considered myself very lucky with my covers - excellent artists and on-the-ball editors who made sure the details were right. Plus, eyeing a fellow author's covers and thinking "man, I'd love a cover from that artist one day" and finding out soon after that she was the one doing my next one... Clearly I was highly virtuous in a previous life.

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Matthew K swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21, 2013

Combination of incompetance and corruption - yup sounds like Italy.

But the same country produces great food and wine plus Ferraris. Go figure, as they say.

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Boscolamb is gonna tell you...

Posted March 22, 2013

John, How does an author/artist keep track of his royalties from items published in other countries? How does one know that they're not shorting him, if they bother forwarding royalties at all? Is there anyway for you to track all of this?

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted March 22, 2013

Agents do that, Bosco. Not authors. Our special power is writing books, not keeping them.

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Timmo is gonna tell you...

Posted March 22, 2013

That cover for "The Turn of the Screw" was especially annoying - not only do they use a particularly blunt literal "metaphor", they also get it wrong and use a nut (which goes with a bolt, not a screw). Very galling to the practical engineering pedant in me :)

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w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted March 22, 2013

I don't understand the problem with the Great Gatsby cover. It could be Nick and Daisy. The male, wary and turning away. Not bad.

The original cover of Gatsby was a classic horrible/brilliant cover. Refer to the wikipedia article on the Great Gatsby http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby . Includes a photo of the original cover and an interesting few paragraphs about it under 'Original cover art'.

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