Friday, August 10, 2007
Dear Publishers of Howard's End:
I went into Borders last night to pick up a copy of the book. We're reading it for book club this month. I'm pretty excited about it. Here's a picture of the books I bought:
I want you to notice the covers of the other books. Nice, huh? (Don't laugh at me that I bought a book titled Love Walked In. Nicola recommended it and she is good taste personified.) I want you to notice your book. You can't really tell by this picture but believe me when I say that it is uglier than sin. Which, I think we can all agree, is pretty ugly. The colors are too harsh, all mashed-up purple and orange and brown, like a psychedelic cornucopia (if I ever start a band it will be named Psychedelic Cornucopia and we will rock!) and then add in the blue and the black and the white and bleh! And are those gypsy women on the front? Are there gypsy women in the book? I've seen the movie and certainly Helena Bonham Carter has a bit of the bohemian in her, but she didn't actually strike me as a gypsy. Especially since Emma Thompson is her sister and can you think of a less gypsy-ish woman? No, neither can I.
It bothered me that you would pick this picture. Do you have a catalogue of free art that you can use on mass produced classics? Is that why you choose it? Was it because the gypsies are having a country picnic in a setting that could pass for the English country side? Perhaps you missed the peasant skirts and do-rags they were wearing? These are all questions I asked as I contemplated whether or not I should buy the book or go to another store to find a prettier cover. Looking at it now, I think I made the wrong choice.
I wonder if I'm prejudice because I know that the cover doesn't represent the book. If I picked this book up, not knowing anything about it, I would think, "Ooh, Russian peasants. I bet it's depressing." And then I would put it back on the shelf. I took a writing class from a guy who wrote children's books. He had no control over the cover art and it drove him crazy. During the semester one of his books was published and he showed us the art that the publishers had chosen. It was two boys in little league uniforms standing in front of a baseball diamond. Nice. Except that one of the boys looked like he ate puppies for breakfast and the other had sausage links for arms. I feel that this cover fits under the same category - the books I will not buy because they're ugly category. Don't you want to sell your books? Perhaps you can do a little better the next time.