Go Ahead and Judge These Book Covers
December 28, 2015 2:49 PM   Subscribe

A regular feature on this site used to be the mocking of the latest covers from Tutis, clueless pumpers-out of public domain books with wildly inappropriate covers [...] But, sadly, their utter incompetence seems to have contributed to them going out of business, and for a long time the world of book design was a colder, darker, less colourful place. But this morning my attention was drawn towards a new land of delights: the catalogue of Read Monkey, via this delightful cover, which suggests Dostoyevsky's grim classic is the tale of a couple of knockabout, clean-cut Irish lads getting up to a few harmless japes. Aww, bless. You might think this is as off-key as a cover could get. You would be wrong. Behold, Read Monkey's finest...
posted by cgc373 (46 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
currently pining for Gypsy jazz Buckethead
posted by thelonius at 2:52 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Google Image Search is a terrible mistress.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:54 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


... I am apparently reading the wrong versions of Jane Austen.
posted by skycrashesdown at 2:54 PM on December 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


The Edgar Allen Poe one is amazing, but I think ideally that would make a better cover for a collected H.P Lovecraft.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:56 PM on December 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow.
posted by Artw at 3:04 PM on December 28, 2015


I read Madame Bovary when I was 12, because Banned Book Week.

My memory of it makes me think that cover's not too bad, really…
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 3:04 PM on December 28, 2015


I would start photoshopping joke versions but I'm not sure they'd be any funnier.
posted by cortex at 3:06 PM on December 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't know, Crime and Punishment is a...fresh take.
posted by gottabefunky at 3:11 PM on December 28, 2015


So these are illustrated inside too? Can't imagine.

Also can't imagine what the mere bronze and silver versions look like.
posted by gottabefunky at 3:12 PM on December 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


So do I open the book left or right?
posted by yueliang at 3:13 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


okay, maybe one
posted by cortex at 3:15 PM on December 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


These get progressively funnier!! I am totally losing my shit over these. Although Far From Madding Crowd would be greatly improved with a Team Jacob vs Team Edward-type cover.
posted by yueliang at 3:16 PM on December 28, 2015


Someone write the books these covers deserve.

Start with A Stoned Chibi Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, please.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:19 PM on December 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was never interested in Henry James until now.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:26 PM on December 28, 2015


Edgar Allan Poe begat Bukowski, apparently. Day 12 of a 30 day bender.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:34 PM on December 28, 2015


Dammit, I really want to know whether or not Secret Agent Scraps will get to the bottom of who stole the snausages.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:35 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Life on the Mississippi had me in tears.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 3:37 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


My students are distressed by Jude enough as it is; I can't imagine the looks of sheer betrayal that would result if I assigned a copy with that cover.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:39 PM on December 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


What is Read Monkey?
posted by Paul Slade at 4:07 PM on December 28, 2015


I took it as an imperative.
Perhaps I was wrong, as it is missing a comma.
posted by eclectist at 4:08 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Idon't know, Crime and Punishment is a...fresh take.

He killed her mother, he left her for dead, now.... Stinking Lizaveta Strikes Back.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:08 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the older posts has what looks like a quite exciting installment in the Oz series.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:09 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Okay, the books may be in the public domain, but they can still expect a C&D from the owners of Casper the Friendly (Canterville?) Ghost for that one cover...
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:10 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Anyone who's read Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates is sure to recognize the key characters and plot elements in the cover of the Russian edition.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:31 PM on December 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm assuming this is not automated as a robot would surely do a better job from time to time out of shear chance?
posted by Artw at 4:34 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm enjoying picturing a literate and well-educated woman, perfectly fluent in English and acquainted with the classics, being assigned this gig one morning in her job at a technical contracting office somewhere in the industrial heartland of China, and collecting these images as her personal fuck-you to a wealthy client who doesn't give a damn about the work, only paying the least amount possible.
posted by ardgedee at 5:33 PM on December 28, 2015 [19 favorites]


A bunch of these look like clever jokes we just don't have quite enough information to work out. This one kind of makes sense if you're familiar with Marvel's Civil War event from a few years ago (or the movie a couple years hence.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:44 PM on December 28, 2015


The following post is about My Father the Pornographer, the forthcoming memoir by Chris Offutt about how his father, Andrew, was a respected science fiction author/editor with a double life writing porn novels. Also contains a link to the NYT Magazine article. I'm looking forward to the full book.
posted by graymouser at 6:20 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


"You must gird your loins; it is all go in Cranford."
posted by gamera at 7:11 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I lost it at amputee octopus and belly laughed through the rest of them.
posted by bendy at 7:55 PM on December 28, 2015


Someone is spending way too much time on clickr.
posted by Biblio at 8:24 PM on December 28, 2015


If the spectacular Wuthering Heights one were available as a printed book, my only real problem would be deciding how many dozen to buy. At least one to frame and put on my living room wall, and maybe 23 more to distribute to every lit professor I know.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:29 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


The cleverest theological joke goes to the cover of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, illustrated by a Japanese monk clearly embarking on the 800-mile 88-temple trek around the island of Shikoku.
posted by kozad at 8:50 PM on December 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Iron Heel was fantastic.
posted by bongo_x at 10:19 PM on December 28, 2015


If you don't click on the second link ("these posts") in the first graf of TFA, you'll be missing out on covers almost as good as this one for The Scarlet Pimpernel.
posted by bryon at 10:48 PM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Heathcliff, it's me Cathy come home, I'm so disc-oh-oh-oh. Let me in-a your windoh-oh-oh.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 11:18 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Clearly the Scarlet Pimpernel is smuggling kittens out of France in his briefcase. Isn't that what he does in the book? I need to reread!
posted by irisclara at 11:52 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hope this edition of the Iliad is illustrated by Frank Miller.

Gandalf the Wizard of Oz.

Alas, poor Ghost Rider. I knew him, Horatio.
posted by sukeban at 12:48 AM on December 29, 2015


Nobody gets it? Wow. Intentionally bad-funny covers attract attention and publicity. Is there a better or cheaper way for a publisher of public domain books to get noticed?
posted by Homer42 at 1:23 AM on December 29, 2015


They're not even competing with Penguin Classics or any other respectable publishing house, they're competing with free ebooks from Project Gutenberg. I fail to see how some knockoff Frazetta orcs on the cover of Samuel Butler's 1898 prose translation of the Iliad (without any footnote or even paragraph numbering) adds any value to this or this. Or even the Wikisource text.
posted by sukeban at 2:04 AM on December 29, 2015


Nobody gets it? Wow. Intentionally bad-funny covers attract attention and publicity.

I don't think nobody gets it; I think there's just not much to get, here. This isn't a multinational going with a "bad" ad campaign to grab the popular attention from an unusual angle. The publicity of niche blogs dedicated to the excoriation of bad work, and some knock-on derision from MetaFilter, is not going to make a material difference in how many units a shovelware public domain republisher shifts.

The maxim of no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity depends on the idea that even bad publicity will mean big net improvements in visibility and attention and future sales. The pieces aren't here; it's a no-account firm on the fringes, getting away with their terrible design work largely because they're such a non-entity that they can't even muster up a good infringement action from the legal revenant of Hanna-Barbera.
posted by cortex at 8:13 AM on December 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


What's weird to me is that the illustrations inside are your normal "moody seascape" type paintings, the things you'd expect to see on a cheap classics edition. So, on this War and Peace, you've got the crazy-ass desert camo on the cover, but inside the illustrations...well, they aren't fitting, really, but they are at least a stab at the right century?
posted by mittens at 8:47 AM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


The ones on the Iliad preview are more or less Ottoman Turkish orientalia, which is vaguely fitting but not, too.
posted by sukeban at 9:01 AM on December 29, 2015


I've always liked the TOR Classics which aren't as obviously bad but are described by the publisher as "affordably-priced editions designed to attract the young reader. Original dynamic cover art enthusiastically represents the excitement of each story" like The Scarlet Letter or The Picture of Dorian Gray .
posted by pointystick at 10:36 AM on December 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


this is the one where i really lost it and started snorting uncontrollably at my desk
posted by burgerrr at 11:51 AM on December 29, 2015


graymouser: "The following post is about My Father the Pornographer, the forthcoming memoir by Chris Offutt about how his father, Andrew, was a respected science fiction author/editor with a double life writing porn novels. Also contains a link to the NYT Magazine article. I'm looking forward to the full book."

There was a previous FPP on that article, incidentally.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:58 AM on January 5, 2016


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