Most of the books on my shelf have attractive covers, or at least covers which don’t offend my eye. Although I know that judging books by their covers is shallow, when it comes to books I actually own (rather than those I borrow) it’s important that they’re not completely horrible. An unpleasant cover can even put me off reading the book. However, a few have slipped past this arbitrary quality control.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (Penguin, 2006). As I said in my review, this might win the award for ugliest Penguin Classic cover. I suppose the designers thought that the out-of-focus photo of a cow’s wet nose was somehow amusing. Penguins usually have nice covers, but obviously not in this case. The photo is copyright Renee Lynn / Getty Images.
Enter Frederick K Bower by Anthony Horowitz (Dragon, 1985). First published in 1979, this book was Horowitz’s first children’s novel. I bought it for about 20p from my school library’s book sale about 20 years ago. The date stamp sheet shows the book was borrowed 34 times between 1986 and 1998. The cover, illustrated by David Frankland, shows some ugly criminal characters from the story.
The Cucumber King by Christine Nöstlinger (Target, 1975). I featured this book in my post about weird books on my shelf. Indeed it was the gruesome gherkin-like creature on the front cover which both attracted and repelled me when I saw the book in a charity shop. The story itself is a short but entertaining read. Unfortunately whoever made the cucumber model is not credited.
Night and Day & Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf (Wordsworth, 2012). Wordsworth Classics can have questionable artwork choices on their covers. I don’t like the vintage French fashion plate image on this cover because it shows the 1920s straight-up and down style (unattainable and unnatural for most women), plus one of the women wears an awful shade of green and carries a fur.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (Orchard, 2001). This is one of my favourite books, yet that completely pink cover is eye-watering. The problem with it is also that the cover suggests a ‘chick lit’ type book when it really isn’t. I think the cover would be enough to put potential readers off, which is a pity because it’s a great story about standing out from the crowd.
Do you think these covers are ugly? Do you care at all what your books look like, or are you less shallow than me?