thinking out loud

Five Books With Unnecessary Cover Updates

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme is a freebie based on covers, and I’m going to write about five book cover “updates” that I find utterly unnecessary. While I understand that publishers need to reprint books in new covers every now and then to attract new readers, sometimes the new covers seem like they would do the exact opposite to me.

Older covers are on the left:

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster & Jules Feiffer


While not exactly an “update”, as the newer cover is for HarperCollins’ Essential Modern Classics series, it’s sad that they couldn’t get Jules Feiffer’s art for the UK editions. To me, this book just isn’t complete without Jules Feiffer!

Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers


On the one hand, I am really glad that this book was reprinted recently. On the other hand… the new cover is AWFUL. Even if the book can’t have gorgeous Edward Gorey art on it, Freaky Friday deserves a better cover. The new cover looks like it was the tie-in to a mediocre Disney made-for-TV movie. As if the association to the movie adaptations isn’t bad enough…

Half Magic by Edward Eager


While I do like Quentin Blake’s art when paired with Roald Dahl, I had to admit that the main reason I never picked up Edward Eager’s books until a couple of years ago was because of the covers. With artists as distinctive as Blake, people assume things. Or at least I did. I thought these books were like Roald Dahl when they really read more like E. Nesbit. I missed out on some great childhood reading, but at least I could enjoy the books now.

Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh


Just… no. I love cats. I am crazy about cats, and I still wouldn’t have picked up the newer cover as a kid. To be fair, though, the cover might appeal to readers of packaged animal stories (Holly Webb, etc), and Puffin released a newer edition in 2015 that is much better.

The Starlight Barking by Dodie Smith


Looking at the two covers side by side just made me sigh very, very loudly. I do appreciate the fact that this book is still in print. I DO. And the newer cover isn’t that bad, considering. I just wish that it looks like something kid!me would’ve picked up. Thankfully when I was a kid the library had a very old edition of The Hundred and One Dalmatians which introduced me to the wonders of Dodie Smith.

And then there are books that I love that started out with ugly covers, and never quite improved… which I may write about in another post some other day. Here are two books where the updates improved on the original:

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones


DWJ’s books tend to get really awful covers in general, but this newer US edition of Howl’s Moving Castle isn’t bad at all. It’s interesting how in a lot of the older covers, the castles were floating (it’s a “castle in the air”, after all) but in the new one it has legs – influenced by Ghibli’s steampunk take on the castle, most probably! I am not going to talk about the original cover because it’s just really bad. (And yet I still want it!)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling


I have to admit that I’m partial to the original cover, because that’s the cover I read over and over until the pages were falling off, but I’ve heard a lot of people say that the newer covers are an improvement. I’m looking forward to the anniversary House editions coming out later this year!


8 thoughts on “Five Books With Unnecessary Cover Updates

  1. I agree with you on all of them. As much as I liked the new Harry Potter covers, the original ones weren’t looking dated at all. They could have easily kept them around for the sake of nostalgia.

    Here is my TTT.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Where taste is concerned I definitely agree with you. You can tell when an artist ‘gets’ what a book is about and when they really have no idea, and you then begin to suspect that publishers in the latter case (or whoever commissions the cover) really has no idea either.

    And then there are the ones (like the first DWJ cover) with no artistic merit whatsoever…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly – and when they try too hard appeal to certain audiences despite not ‘getting’ the book, sometimes they get it completely wrong… which is what I suspect happened with Freaky Friday and Carbonel in this post!

      Liked by 1 person

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