When a Cover Can Ruin a Book

Josie Leavitt -- February 1st, 2013

I know I’ve ranted about my utter distaste of covers with photographs of real people, especially teenagers on them, but a friend shared a cover with me that made me gasp. There is a new book that has the first three Anne of Green Gables in one collection.

I think having the first three books together is a great idea, as folks often read the first one and come racing back for the next two in the series, so it’s good to make their lives easier and let them stay with Anne uninterrupted. The problem is the cover.  See the cover to the left? Does that look like the skinny red-headed, pre-teen Anne I loved as a child? Um, not exactly. The woman, and I mean woman–there’s nothing pre-teen about her, gracing this cover looks nothing like Anne. She actually looks likes she’s the kind of kid who would sneak out of her boarding school to smoke cigarettes with the math teacher.

First off, why is she a blonde? Secondly, what’s with the come hither look? Thirdly, why was this approved?

Covers of books are very important, I understand that, but there are principles that I think covers should follow.

1. The cover, especially one with a photo or drawing of a main character, should actually look like that character. If the main character is a redhead or a person of color, the cover should reflect that.

2. The cover should accurately reflect the time period of the book. The Anne in this cover looks like she just snuck out of boarding school to smoke with a teacher.

3. The cover should set the mood for the tone of the book.

4. The cover should pull the reader in.

I don’t mean to criticize only this book, but it was such a glaring example of a cover gone awry, I couldn’t help myself. So, my plea to all publishers: please stop thinking that only books with photographs sell, because this is not true. And, please design the cover after you’ve read the book.