Our Least Favorite Classic Book Cover Re-Designs

While over at Huffington Post’s book page, we came across a post by Zoe Triska about the problematic trend of redesigning classic book covers to target a younger audience, specifically teen girls. There’s nothing wrong with giving a book cover a makeover, of course, but when you underestimate the people you want to buy and read your book, it can often come off as patronizing at best and condescending at worst.

In honor of our shared distaste of the new The Bell Jar cover, which makes Sylvia Plath’s semi autobiographical novel look like a chick lit paperback , we’ve rounded up some of the worst cover redesigns we could find. Check them out after the jump!


The Bell Jar, Faber London Edition

As we mentioned before, the new cover for Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (shown here alongside the more mood appropriate Harper Perennial edition) doesn’t exactly conjure up the image of a woman struggling with depression. Apparently these designers only picked up on the fact that Ester Greenwood falls into normative gender roles, and not so much on the idea that she’s not very happy about it.

wutheringheightsWuthering Heights, HarperCollins Edition

Not only are both these covers clearly inspired by the now-iconic imagery of the Twilight book covers, they’re also both inscribed with a ringing endorsement from the fictional vampire duo: “Bella and Edward’s Favorite Book.”


Valley of Fear, Hard Case Crime Edition

This was a deliberate attempt on the part of Hard Case Crime, a US publishing company, make Arthur Conan Doyle’s final Sherlock Holmes novel “more accessible” by bringing it in to the world of pulp fiction. The art is great, if a bit lurid (they couldn’t have put that “V” anywhere else?), and we love a good pulp cover as much as the next person, but this is a bit much for London’s greatest detective.


Anne of Green Gables, CreateSpace Edition

Who is this perfect blond American Eagle model and what’s she doing trying to convince us that she’s our little Anne Shirley? (They couldn’t have at least found a redhead?)


The Scarlet Letter, Penguin Edition

Some great artwork by Ruben Toledo, but does the story of Hester Prynne’s puritanial society really need to evoke an overly stylized Vogue illustration?

barron-storey_fahrenheit-451_ny-ballantine-1983_29234Fahrenheit 451, Mass Paperback Edition

Yes, Ray Bradbury is best known for his science fiction, but when you put this schlocky cover up alongside the original striking image of a knight dressed in burning pages, there’s really no comparison.

Seen any classic books get a bad makeover and want to share it with us? Tell us about your experience in the comments!