There's no end
to the things you might know, depending how far beyond Zebra you go! {Dr. Seuss}

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fun Fact Friday: Early and Recent Edition Covers for 12 Classic Novels

I don’t judge books by their covers. I judge books by their titles. It’s an intriguing, unique title that makes me pick up a book, and it’s a compelling description on the back cover that makes me buy it. But always, I read titles first. Why? I’m not entirely sure, but I think it’s because titling my own work stresses me out! It’s like if you think you have ugly hands, you tend to always look at other people’s hands and compare. It’s kind of like that, I guess, with me and titles. Besides, there are too many amazing stories out there caught between lackluster covers by no fault of their own. (The Hunger Games comes to mind.) So, I don’t pay much attention to covers until I’m standing in the checkout line. 
This topic comes up often around the blogosphere, and I seem to be in the minority with judging books by their titles. So for today I decided to research the covers of classic novels. I tried my best to find first and current edition covers, but some of them are just an early and recent edition cover. Compare, enjoy, and imagine what YOUR novel’s first and recent edition covers will look like!
Fiction Classics:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, 1813

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, 1818
    

   
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, 1878
  

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 1936

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1954


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1960



Children’s/Young Adult Classics:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, 1868



The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, 1900


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, 1950


The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, 1951


Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, 1961


Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, 1970

"I'm so glad we live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it?" ~Anne Shirley (L.M. Montgomery)
Happy October! Have a wonderful weekend, zigzaggers!!!
What are your thoughts on these covers? Do you judge a book by its cover or its title? For your own novel, would you prefer a breathtaking cover or a captivating title?

21 comments:

Jessica Hill said...

I judge books by their titles, too. I honestly don't pay that much attention to the covers. But, for my own novel, I'd prefer to have both. ;) Though, if I had to choose, I'd probably have to pick a captivating title, because that's how I judge other books.

T. Anne said...

Fun! I love the new Tolstoy cover!

Laura Pauling said...

The average book cover and title don't throw me off - I just might not notice it to pick it up. I probably won't even pick up a book with a cover and a titla that is not appealing to me - unless it's been recommended.

So I think a catch title and awesome cover is important for some sales...but really good writing will always rise to the top, regardless.

Sandy Shin said...

Love these covers. For most of them, I like the newer versions -- but there're a few older ones that attract my eyes. :)

I have to admit, I tend to judge books based on their covers. If the cover doesn't seem to promise the type of books I read, I don't pick it up. However, I will read books regardless of covers if I've read the summary and liked it.

Stacy Post said...

I think, because I'm keenly aware of marketing, I don't judge a book by its cover. (Librarians are often barraged with the perpetual onslought of marketing. Sometimes it feels like trying to shovel out of an avalanche.) Besides, many wonderful stories are hidden treasures. Who doesn't like discovering a great book? If I like a title and pick it up, I'll usually give the author 100 pages to convince me to finish. So many books...so little time! Great topic!

Matthew Rush said...

There are SO many LOTR covers and they all rule! Also that old cover of The Catcher in the Rye was the version I read in school. Now I feel old!

Great post, thanks Laura!

Today's guest blogger in Christina Lee!

Hannah Kincade said...

I love old covers so I would pick the older ones every time. I do judge book by the cover but I've found some really bad books with fabulous covers and found some great ones with horrible covers. So I try not to judge too far.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm with Sandy--I like most of the new covers best...but you just can't mess with the "Wizard of Oz" or "Catcher in the Rye" or "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Shelley Sly said...

This was a lot of fun, seeing how the covers changed! I'm with you, I judge more on a title than a cover. Maybe because I'm more of a word person than a picture person? I don't know. (I'm also bad at titles... just working on re-titling one of my MS's now, and it's stressful!)

Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Journaling Woman said...

I love the old covers. How beautiful. I probably do judge a book by its cover. :)

Teresa

Laura Marcella said...

Jessica- I'd want an amazing title, too! Of course, I want the perfect cover, but that's not something authors usually have control over, which is a bummer!

T.Anne- Me too! I like the new Frankenstein cover!

Laura- That's true. No matter the title or cover, it's the story that sells the book.

Sandy- I can't decide which covers I like best! Except I don't like the newer Judy Blume's: it's so boring!

Stacy- Ooo, I agree! There are sooo many great books to read. I don't know how I'll ever get through my to-read list because I keep adding more to it!

Matthew- LOL, Catcher's first cover is a lot more appealing than its current one (which is the one I have!). When I was searching the LotR covers, they ALL were pretty cool!

Hannah- There's something really special and charming about early edition covers. :)

Elizabeth- I agree! I really like Mockingbird's first cover.

Shelley- There have been a lot of covers for all of these! Good luck with titling your MS. I usually make a list of possible titles and read them over until one seems to sing off the page. It's never easy for me, though!

Teresa- They are beautiful! Old covers are magical. :)

Alexandra Crocodile said...

I love that Anne quote:) October is a fantastic month! I don't judge by covers (well, I try not to, hehe). Their titles are more important, I agree.

Medeia Sharif said...

I like the more modern covers, especially Anna Karenina's.

Bluestocking said...

Oh, I loved Where the Red Fern Grows! I think its fascinating to see how tastes change over time. How the book has changed from something that made a social statement (wealth, literacy)to broad commercial appeal...

Amie Kaufman said...

I think I'm a little of both. I'll definitely pick up a title that interests me, whether I like the cover or not. The cover can grab me too, though, even where the title's less exciting. I love these covers, what a clever idea to look them up! I find it fascinating that some (Gone with the Wind) have barely changed at all, and some (Anna Karenina) have changed enormously.

Jolene Perry said...

Title first, cover second - unless the cover is something remarkable seen from across the room. It is interesting to see how different the covers are from the original. Fun stuff.

MT said...

I admit that the cover can either pull me in or push me away, but I can be persuaded to consider a book of which I don't like the cover if the title is enticing.

Laura Marcella said...

Alexandra- Anne always has the perfect quotes for everything!

Medeia- I can't decide. I like them all! I do really like the "Frankenstein" newer cover, though.

Bluestocking- That's one of my childhood favorites! Rawls wrote one other book "Summer of the Monkeys." That's really good, too! It doesn't compare to Red Fern of course, but it's still a great book on its own.

Amie- I definitely think a less exciting title needs a striking cover! You're about Gone with the Wind not changing much. The font is exactly the same! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Jolene- It shows how much our culture has changed over the years, too (ahem, Anna Karenina)!

Michelle- It's one or the other that grabs the eye. But who knows, maybe some people just pull books off the shelf and read the back without seeing the cover or title first! That'd be something fun to do sometime. :)

Margo Berendsen said...

Oh, what a fun idea to do with early edition and current edition covers! In some cases I liked the current covers, in some cases I liked the originals better.

I am with you though, the title is far more likely to catch my attention than the cover. A cover is important, but not as much as the title.

Nothing is as important though, for me deciding to read a book, as word-of-mouth!

Loved the Anne shirley quote too! made me want to pick up Anne of Green Gables and re-read it!

Christina Lee said...

I loved looking at these. They were much more simple, and today they are more colorful and powerful. Hmmm...very intertesting!

Laura Marcella said...

Margo- It's hard to decide! I like old covers if it's the one I read my first time, like the Judy Blume and Mockingbird ones. And I agree about word-of-mouth! That's one of the best ones to discover amazing books. And Anne Shirley always has something wonderful to say! I love that entire series and re-read them every couple of years; she was my childhood hero. :)

Christina- It's fun seeing old covers and comparing them to the new ones! It shows how much we have changed. I love the early Judy Blume cover because that's the one my sister had that I read. It takes me back!