Bookish Topic Tuesday – Book Covers That Make No Sense

Bookish Topic Tuesday

Book Covers That Make No Sense

I recently found a great little video on Youtube, from Random House (who have been doing a few interesting videos on the more behind the scenes stuff, that goes into making a book), on Designing Book Covers. You can find it here:

What I was blown away with is that these designers ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK! Like, sometimes, you’d have to say that they had no idea what actually happened in the book, and just made up some random thing for the cover that was completely unrelated. So it’s nice to know that they actually read the book, but even so, sometimes I don’t get why they do what they do, I guess it’s ‘art’. But the final example, with the woman discussing a book on Sugar, Salt, Fat (or whatever it was), and what she wanted to do for the cover. Personally I loved the giant, ominous gummy bear, but, they went with something I didn’t even get until she explained it. I quite liked the one where it was like a nutrition label, I think they could have used that one if they just altered it, but instead they went with what to me, looked like just the title in strange lettering. But apparently, it was (which is actually quite clever) the title made from the wrappers mentioned in the book, and done in a sort of ‘ransom note’ fashion. Yes it was clever, but would have I got that from the cover, probably not.

Here are some examples (which I’m using under Fair Use, as a criticism, I’m promoting the books, the value of the books is not decreased, and these are small thumbnailed sized pictures. I don’t own these images, and they are owned by their respective designers/publishers, and they have been found on book store’s websites or official fan sites, if you own these pictures and want them removed, leave a comment):

Gone by Michael Grant - Australian cover - 2009 Egmont
Gone by Michael Grant – Australian cover – 2009 Egmont

Gone by Michael Grant, which if you recall, is a book that I have, sitting waiting to be read. But, I bought my copy in Hawaii, where the covers actually seem interesting, though there are just two people, a boy and girl on there. But I just dislike the Australian (?) version that I can only seem to find around the place for the other books in the series (yes, I want to buy the others, even before I’ve read it). I mean, really I just don’t like the covers, it’s just black with a bit of text, and a strange picture of a person in the O. Doesn’t really say much about the book at all, and really is just following a trend of books with these dark covers, in almost imitation of Twilight (probably to bandwagon a bit). However, I LOVE the idea of the book and can’t wait to read the book, so I guess you can’t judge a book by its cover.

The Keeping Place by Isobelle Carmody

Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody

The Keeping Place and Obernewtyn both by Isobelle Carmody. Now I love these books, and I love Isobelle, but both of these covers I don’t really get. For the Obernewtyn one, it looks so strange, why is Maruman in the sky? And why does Elspeth have a huge bulge in her scarf? I don’t get it. Then for The Keeping Place, I think that’s Dragon on the bed lying there, but her hair isn’t the striking red that she has, and then Maruman looked a little like an aardvark, but I think that’s his paw, but still doesn’t look right. And is the girl on the right supposed to be Elspeth, well, whoever it is, looks so wraith-like. I don’t get it.

Edit: Turns out that these book covers have some interesting back story. The one on the left, might not be a cover after all. After talking to two very knowledgeable Obernewtyn Chronicle fans, who have quite a number of copies of each book, one suggested it was really a fan art, and the other suggested it was concept art. As for the one on the right, that wasn’t supposed to be the cover, but a mix up caused it to be the cover to the original print of Obernewtyn, so really it too was concept art. Maybe that explains things, but, even if they were just ideas, I’m just not sure what they were supposed to achieve?

I couldn’t really find/think of any covers that didn’t make sense. I know that they are out there, but I can’t quite remember them.

So I want to know, do you know any book covers which just make you wondering if the person ever read the book, or even the blurb? What’s the weirdest book cover you’ve ever seen? What do you think of these covers above?


2 thoughts on “Bookish Topic Tuesday – Book Covers That Make No Sense

  1. “Why, the ugliest shell may be hiding the most beautiful pearl and the roughest cover may be on the loveliest, sweetest story book. It isn’t what is on the outside that counts; it is what we may have within us.”
    – Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees (1924)

    While this is all true, the publishing company, as you have shown, spends a lot of time designing covers to make them stand out, and indeed it is difficult for many of us not to judge a book by its cover when there are so many to choose from in life.

    I went into my room to look for books that I might feel have unusual covers, and I found your article has given me an appreciation for the art of cover designing already. The only ones that were confusing and odd was the cover of Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me.

    When You Reach Me’s cover makes perfect sense but only if you have read the book and know that the objects featured are items and places in the story. All the same, it is a lively, interesting cover that may entice readers to purchase it.

    Very interesting topic that I thank you for introducing.

    1. That is too true, just because a cover isn’t very good doesn’t mean the actual story inside is going to be bad! But as you say, we are inevitably going to judge a book by its cover, for what else, other than the title, is there to really draw us in, whilst in a book store browsing the shelves. The blurb doesn’t draw us in to look at the book, the blurb is there to make us want to read it/buy it!

      Thanks for the comment, I’ll be sure to do another post about my favourite covers sometime in the future!

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