Judging a book by its cover. . .

This past weekend, I was very, very excited to find a boxed set of Anne, 1-3.  Of course, this may be considered odd by some since I have more than a few copies of Anne.  And it’s not like these are first editions.  But, could you resist a boxed set that looks like this?


There are pictures from the Charlottetown production of the musical, with a copyright date of 1968.

Here’s the cover of Anne, which I find more than a little creepy.


But the reason why I had to buy this set (for the bargain price of $5.98, no less) was the cover of Anne of the Island:


I turned to my friend, who is not a history nerd, but who has known me for more than a few years, and blurted “Anne’s a whore!”

For those of you that know me, and even those that are getting to know me through this blog, you’ve probably figured out that I like historical accuracy.  I like it when history sneaks into things people enjoy–the spoonful of sugar for the medicine.  (Though I certainly don’t consider history medicine, it does seem that most folks are still scarred by the names/dates focus of most school classes).  And a big part of me gets really pissed off when things are blatantly wrong.  But there’s this other part of me–the part that is really amused.

If I knew nothing about Anne and picked up those books, I would have ended up confused.  These covers are so obviously from the 1960s it’s hard to realize that the books are about the late 19th century.  But wait. . . there are far worse examples!

From the 1950s:


ETA (2013): I just bought a copy of Anne of Windy Poplars from this particular printing that makes Anne look like Nancy Drew.

From the 1970s (these completely and totally crack me up):



I get that the publisher was probably trying to appeal to a “modern” audience.  But in those 1970s books, the cover is so blatanly current that aren’t readers going to be confused when Anne is on a train and waiting for a horse and buggy?  And longs for a dress with puffed sleeves?

These anachronistic books form an entire subset of my Anne collection.  I have quite a few copies of Little Women too, but somehow they all have women in hoop skirts on the front cover.  I’m not sure why such efforts were made with Anne, but I do enjoy them, even as I want to throw them across the room.

A cover for books like these can be hard.  There was quite the controversy among Little House fans over the new covers–they’re photographic and supposedly more “real,” but Garth Williams has been completely stripped from the stories.  Which is just wrong.  But at least the girls are wearing appropriate clothing in the new covers.


Covers are a scary thing, especially for fans.  What if the illustration doesn’t match the picture in our heads?  What if the book isn’t appealing to people who don’t know the books?  What if the cover is misleading?

There are many reasons why I’m thrilled about the re-issue of the Betsy-Tacy High School and Beyond books.  But one of the biggest?  The covers are gorgeous.  They’re appropriately retro/historic and modern all at the same time.  Check it out:


I know that I’m already converted (and an easy convert at that!), but isn’t it amazing?  Don’t you think it will be 10 times easier to convert new fans with such beautiful books?  And the chances of them being confused, as Anne readers in the 1970s might have been, seems to be nil.

I absolutely love a pretty book.  But I also love it when one of my favorites is disguised as a very ugly book.  But I still wonder–how many readers were confused by those Anne covers?  How many fans were lost?

One response to “Judging a book by its cover. . .”

  1. […] here’s a link to my original post, complete with lots more horrifying covers of one of my favorite […]


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