Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Judging Books By Their Covers

People say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but good cover design can tell you a lot about a book's premise, themes, and tone.  Bad cover design can be confusing.  And no one has been consistently worse than Tutis Publishing with its "Great Classics Series."  Basically, Tutis decided to print a bunch of old classics whose copyrights had expired.  They then slapped on covers that range from bland to hilarious.  Sometimes they're very literal.  For example -

"3:30 is too damn early!" - Zeus

Sometimes they're ridiculously literal-

I love trying to figure out the thought processes for these cover designs.  In this case, instead of a book of fairytales, the designer thought it must have been about a book that was also a fairy.     

My favorite part of this is that it's turning a nut, not a screw.

But those mistakes make sense.  Some are so baffling and wildly incorrect, that I can barely begin to fathom what was going through the mind of the people involved.  I'm curious who they think King Arthur was.

If you've been following this blog, you'll have heard me talk about Zane Grey, who pretty much defined the Western genre.  You wouldn't know it from Tutis.

But my personal favorite is their take on L. Frank Baum's Oz series.  I have a feeling that Tutis's version would be much more  bizarre and interesting.  The least bizarre is the cover for Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz.

I say that one's the least bizarre because the other two are much more subtly wrong.  For example, the Emerald City on the cover of The Emerald City of Oz, is Detroit.

No, seriously.  This is a photo of Detroit.

And finally, who could be the lost princess of Oz?

That's a picture of Emily Brontë, author of Wuthering Heights and notable Victorian literary figure.  She has no connection to L. Frank Baum or the Oz series.  What she is doing on the cover is a question I don't expect answered.  At least it's the most confusing use of an unrelated historical figure on a cover of an unrelated book, right?


  1. I love how random, and how wrong these are. It's dangerous what someone can do with a desktop publishing program... I wonder if the designs were outsourced to someone who does not speak English, and they used GoogleTranslate to figure out what to use as a cover design.

  2. This post is laugh-out-loud funny. I can't decide which is funnier, King Arthur's Knights or Betty Zane! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wait, they used the box cover from Guitar Hero?

    The book may be out of copyright, but I'm not so sure about that cover image..

  4. It makes a mockery of the sometime snobbery that self-publishers shouldn't design their own covers!