14 Stylish Book Cover Redesigns for Classic Works of Literature
I own The Great Gatsby. Who doesn't? I've read the book multiple times; I've seen the movie(s). I'm most certainly not in the market for an additional copy of The Great Gatsby, and yet, when I heard that Penguin Books' senior cover designer Coralie Bickford-Smith had re-designed not one, not two, but all of Fitzgerald's books in glimmering Art Deco metallics, I had to have another Gatsby.
Cover redesigns are a brilliant marketing tactic. All major publishers have backlogs of books that people consider "classics," which means teenagers and lazy readers just think of them as old, boring, and irrelevant. But these musty tomes are immediately given new life — and, dare I say, swagger? — with a bright, clever, ironic, current cover redesign.
Redesigns and reissues often fall on an important anniversary for the book, or when something related to the book comes out (a movie, say); sometimes, publishers decide to redesign the entire catalog of an author in one fell swoop, like those Fitzgerald metallics. Fonts get updated, colors get tweaked, fashion is modernized, they pick a new model to be the girl looking moodily into the distance. Suddenly, what we thought was oh-so-16th-century feels relevant again.
1. The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The original has some of the scandalous Hollywood glamour that surrounded Fitzgerald's California death, but this Art Deco redesign is impossible to resist.
2. 1984 by George Orwell
Big brother is watching, watching, watching.
3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
This Lolita redesign is beyond brilliant — the second you find it sexual, you feel disgusting. After all, it's just a photo of a room, right?
4. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
This may be the first Anne of Green Gables redesign that doesn't feature a wholesome redhead outdoors (aside from a certain ill-advised blonde train wreck of a cover), and I love its flowery, imaginative sweetness.
5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
All the gothic intrigue your lonely heart desires.
6. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This lovely embroidered cover hints at all the texture and life hidden inside this seemingly glum story.
7. The Trial by Franz Kafka
Designer Peter Mendelsund created a series of new Kafka covers, all featuring eyes, conveying both intimacy and paranoia.
8. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Most covers of 100 Years of Solitude tend to look the same, but I love the precarious town on this strange new version.
9. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Sure, an army conveys unrest — but so does a swinging chandelier.
10. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Stern
This new edition didn't just get a fresh cover — the text inside is interactive and graphic design-y, too.
11. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The white whale crushing the ship? Brilliant! This cover (and the three following it) is part of a series called DoeDeMee, in which 100 artists re-illustrate 100 books to fight illiteracy.
12. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
13. Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway
It's weird seeing a Hemingway edition with such whimsical details and playful font, but it feels a little bit vintage overall, and it works.
14. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
This may be my favorite of the cover redesigns— an absolutely weird, ultra-feminine but surreptitiously disturbing depiction of literature's most ennui-drenched wife.