Friday, June 11, 2010

Judging a cover

I'm not a cover-art-is-sacred person. As long as the text inside is the same, I'm generally fine with whatever appearance a new edition takes. But when a book close to my heart shows up with movie tie-in covers, I do have a negative reaction. It's like the movie is encroaching on the book, even negating the experience of those of us who loved the book on its own long before the movie came along. (I won't single out the movie that inspired this post, but it wasn't Eclipse.)

But then, as I often do, I find myself turning to the argument that anything that gets kids reading is a good thing. A book pimped out (metaphorically speaking) with images of a movie kids have seen, regardless of how faithful to the story, is pretty likely to catch those kids' eyes. If it gets them reading the book, then if it happens to be a really good book, so much the better, right?

What do you think?


  1. Your second paragraph is exactly what I was thinking during your first. :) Of course, if there still is another cover available to satisfy those of us that want a non-movie blasting cover all the better...

  2. I tend to get much more annoyed by ugly updated cover art/design than movie tie-ins. I'm not a big fan of movie tie-in editions, but they at least make sense to me -- the movie poster has been carefully designed and selected, there are marketing reasons for releasing them, and sometimes movie posters are a lot better than the actual movies! Whereas in the case of ugly cover art or design, the only excuse is that either a) the artist's impression of the character doesn't jive with yours, or b) it's ugly. There's no, "Oh, it's the studio's fault, they picked that picture," or "Well, X actress doesn't really look like X character, but hey, she's the one they hired."

    That said, I don't think I've ever bought a movie tie-in edition of a book, at least not not on purpose. My copy of The Lost World by Michael Crichton may be, but only because that's the usual MMPB that is for sale.

  3. Back when I was in my Agatha Christie phase, I got a lot more annoyed by the fact that they would change the titles!

  4. Marie: True, definitely! I think part of my negative reaction is the fear that the original cover is gone forever when the movie cover comes out, and that's probably not true.

    Elizabeth: You know, I do hesitate a bit at buying books with movie tie-in covers, but I have no problem at all with taking them out of the library. I guess appearance feels more important when it's a book I'm going to own.

    Nicole: Are there cases besides "And Then There Were None?" I definitely understand the change from "Ten Little Indians," and from "Ten Little N-----s" before that. Some changes are necessary, and beyond that, I think the replacement title is a decent one. But I'd be a lot more mystified by changes that weren't quite as justifiable (Sorcerer's Stone, anyone?).

  5. Yeah, the changes I'm thinking of were long beyond that point. I never even saw the "Ten Little Indians" cover let alone the other one.
    It may be that it's a British vs. US publication thing, but in the Wikipedia list of works there's sometimes up to three titles listed for one book!

  6. Yeah, that makes no sense. I wonder what motivated the marketing minds.

  7. P.S. I may have to take back what I said, after encountering this monstrosity at Borders over the weekend.