The Handmaid’s Tale

Everyone’s read The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood).

Everyone except me.

I’ve never gotten around to it. While I was interning with a literary agency in Manhattan, I’d see manuscripts drift through the slush pile that would claim to be “The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games” (?) or “The Handmaid’s Tale meets Star Trek” (I’m dubious about these comp titles just because I can’t see a dystopian novel being crossed with one of the most formulaic shows no longer on television). I always made a mental note to read it later. And later was always after work, and after work became after dinner, and then after I played a few hours of video games, and then after I finished knitting my scarf…I never ended up reading it. I never even bought it!

But I’ve had the occasion to see some of the cover art for it. That was enough to entice me to go out and get the darn thing. Now, of course, it’s at the bottom of my 30 book long to-read list. :/

For a synopsis of the book, click here. Printed in 1985 by McClelland and Stewart (Canadian publisher), Atwood’s bestselling dystopian novel has retained its popularity over the years, and even saw a surge in purchases after the YA dystopian craze hit publishing. It has been sold in Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Vietnam, the US, and Norway, among others.

Here’s a random sampling of the covers:

First edition, 1985:





Pretty gorgeous. I prefer the Vintage cover to all of the others–I appreciate the texture of the print and its modern appearance.

I guess I’ll have to read it now. ūüôā

The Hobbit

Well, it looks like I have carpal tunnel, or something that mimics the symptoms of carpal tunnel, so I have not been posting as often as I would normally. My hand hurts too much when I try to type for long periods of time–it’s so unfortunate! I really do spend most of my time either typing or writing, so this has been a big hindrance. Hopefully it will heal soon.

Today’s post is about the famous JRR Tolkien book, The Hobbit, a personal favorite of mine from a very young age. There’s a movie coming out next winter (I believe), made with roughly the same idea in mind as the LOTR series.

1937, George Allen and Unwin, Co.

This is the original dust jacket:

1966, Houghton Mifflin.

1980, Unwin Paperbacks.

1987, Houghton Mifflin.

2001, Graphia.

And…the trailer for the new movie! Now that they’re releasing one, maybe they’ll issue reprints with exciting new cover art.

A Christmas Carol

Well, slightly belated, but still. Here’s a collection of covers of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Chapman and Hall, 1843. First edition.


1858, Bradbury and Evans.

1894, Routledge.

1901, HM Caldwell.

1914, David McKay.

1938, John C Winston.

1938, Whitman.

1966, Pocket.

1993, Candlewick.

2001, Modern Library.

2009, Penguin Books.


Time to Start Over

I know this blog is about cover art, and usually I wouldn’t deviate from that. But today is the day before I graduate from college, and I want to address some things I think people should know about being a college student.

Top 15 things I learned in College:

1) Just because you think differently doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

2) The name of Jane Austen’s sister is Cassandra.

3) Usually, school bureaucracy is so bad that it takes two years to change much of anything.

4) Those who form cliques are usually not the people you want to be friends with.

5) Don’t go to Skidmore College if you want to graduate with any applicable skills.

6) Paying for a private school is only useful if you fear large class sizes. Otherwise, stick with public; it costs a fraction of the price and usually the institutions are just as good.

7) Don’t get carpal tunnel just because you have 3 papers due in the same week.

8 ) If a teacher tells you that you are wrong, and you know you are right and can prove it, do NOT hesitate to inform them of this.

9 ) Enthusiasm will open so many doors for you. So will boot-licking.

10) Don’t ever sell yourself short to others, because they’ll start believing you.

11) When (not if) you get involved in the drama that inevitably follows forming new friends, don’t despair. There are so many better people out there.

12) Double majoring is a choice that is NOT for the faint of heart, or slackers.

13) When it’s bad, it can only get better. Or worse. But optimism will get you through better than pessimism.

14) Boyfriends are usually not the greatest people to have around when you’re pressured to finish work. If you’re a workaholic (like me), wait until you graduate to invest in a long term relationship.

15) You will come out a changed person. A better person. A person with more worldliness and experience than you had 4 years ago. It is worth it. Don’t give up.

Love your time in school, because after it’s over, you’re going to be wishing you were back there. Real life hits hard.

Now for something completely different.

Alice in Wonderland

Who is more beloved by the odd than Alice? I have to say, I was one of those children who was terrified by the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. I saw it first at age four and was so scared that I didn’t see it again until I was in my late teens. The only part I really like is the Mad Hatter/March Hare scene, which I linked to above.

A very merry unbirthdayyyyyyyy….to you!

An unbirthday gift to all, then:

1866, Macmillian and Co., London.  I have to say, this is a really nice first edition print.


1905, Albert Company


1907, William Heinmann and Doubleday.


1930, Hodder and Stoughton.


1932, Macmillan.


1943, Consolidated Press.¬†¬† This one reminds me of some really old books my mom gave me when I was little. The girl’s face also reminds me of the Coppertone girl.


1946, Penguin.


1962, London, Wardlock and Co.


1982, Univ. of California Press.    Wins the weirdest cover award.


1985, Hold, Rinehart and Winston.


1999, WW Norton and Co.


2010, Penguin.


2012, Signet Classics.

Even cooler is something I found out about Penguin: Alice in Wonderland is one of the books included in their My Penguin program, which allows you to buy the novel with a blank cover. You’re supposed to design your own cover and then post it on their site. SUPER cool.

There are so many covers of this book! It lends itself very well to illustration. What I find even crazier is the number of editions Penguin has put out! Do a Google search and you’ll see.


Pride and Prejudice

It’s about time I got around to writing about P&P!

I’m doing a paper on the cover art for the novel, so it seems only logical that I would do a post on it too. After all, I spend an hour a day reading sources about publishing in the 1800s versus publishing now, so it’s gonna be easy as pie!

I have to say, I love P&P. I think it’s chick lit–yep, sorry guys, I’m not convinced of its status as English Literature–but I love it anyway. It’s quite amusing and if I want to chuckle a little while reading, this is the book I pick to read.

So let’s begin!

Original edition, 1813, T Egerton.

1895, George Allen, UK.

1897, Dana Estes and Co, Boston.

1900, Gresham Pub. and Co., UK

1908, JM Dent, UK

You can tell how frequently they were being re-released. The demand for Austen’s books grew far later on in the century.

1930, T Nelson and Co., London. Part of the Nelson’s Favorite Books series. I guess by the 1930s Austen was already being considered a favorite.

1940, Pocket Books.   A mini version of the book for the WWII soldiers to carry around with them in battle.



1948, Scholastic. This one wins the weirdest cover award.


1966, Airmont. Sorry for the rotten photo, I couldn’t find a better one.

1981, Bantham.  BOOOORRING.

1993, Longman. So pretty.

2007, Bethany House. Some of my friends have told me that this is a “christian” version of P&P. I don’t really know what that is supposed to mean…?


2009, Penguin Classics. By far the coolest one. Follow the link to see the other classics this artist has done.



So there you have it–a brief run-through of some of the hundreds of covers of P&P. I left out the Twilight version, as I had posted about it already.

I also left out my copy, because it’s ugly as sin. When you’re poor, you just buy whatever edition you can find at the secondhand bookstore.


Protect IP Act

My blog will get shut down if this passes, and I assume many of yours will too.

Sign the petition, send emails to congress, do whatever you can. We’re not living in a dictatorship. This is supposed to be a democratic country with rights. I don’t think anyone is jumping for joy about this except for greedy Hollywood and music producers.



I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan. He was the author that first introduced me to urban fantasy, my favorite genre, and subsequently I found a name for the sort of fiction I wrote, and a clan of followers. This was all before Stardust was released on DVD and everyone and their mothers were reading Sandman. Not to say publicity isn’t good, but now he’s become kind of a bad writer (I hated Fragile Things, it was so boring. Not at all similar to Smoke and Mirrors). I think it’s really easy to fall back on popularity and put out whatever you can when you’re a megasuperstar. He really is the Thom Yorke of non-literary fiction these days.

That said, I’m doing Neverwhere today, which I’m sure most of you know, and for those who don’t, it follows this guy who stumbles across a strange girl named Door, who has magical powers and can open any door she comes across. She takes him to London Below, which is basically London, but underground and spooky. She has to find out who killed her family. They meet the Marquis of Carabas (who is my favorite character), the token character that employs dry wit to give a humorous edge to some scenes. It’s a great, great book. Do read it if you haven’t.

Neverwhere has been released so many times in the past fifteen or so years that the number of copies available (or not available) is pretty large. I guess he didn’t really boom in popularity until five or so years ago, so maybe that’s why.

BBC Books, 1996.

Avon, 1998.

William Morrow, 2003.

Review, 2005.

This one is a comic book, but nonetheless has furthered the Neverwhere franchise.

Titan Books, 2007. (Comic)

William Morrow, 2010. Special Edition, 1000 prints.

The latter edition was a special release, only sold for 2 days, and cost $200. All the copies were signed and were printed 7×10. It was the “author’s preferred” text, which I assume means the UK version (the US publisher cut out 2000 words). Kind of like a Director’s cut, I suppose (see post on film and publishing!)

And I’m not counting the foreign editions, of which many exist. I found a photo of the French version:

You can look at all the foreign additions here.

There’s also a DVD release and several audio CDs, though I won’t get into that here. I’ve never seen the Neverwhere miniseries, so any opinion I could give you would be highly uneducated.

Does anyone else love this book as much as I do?


Film and Publishing?

I am a very firm believer that the film and publishing industries are very closely aligned.

I’m not only saying this because I’m graduating with a film degree and want to work in publishing, I promise. I really do believe that if you major in film you’ll make a great editor (and vice-versa).

How can this be? you purists will ask, and I have received that response before. But let me just say, sometimes people who don’t major in English make the best writers.

For starters, Film is a collaborative art. Making a movie requires enormous amounts of employees, all doing different jobs, in order to produce this mammoth (or so they hope) final work. Not too surprisingly, in publishing, this is also the case. You’ve got editors critiquing manuscripts, production staff preparing the physical bits of the book, publicity marketing it, and plenty of other departments involved as well.

Then you’ve got the work itself. Film is a visual media based off of words. Scripts are the foundation for every film. They may be stripped bare of prose and flouncy language, but they’re the bones of a great work (sometimes). Books, obviously, are also based on the written word, and seek to evoke images in the heads of their readers. The people who attempt to make this happen are generally different from those who make it happen in film (cinematographers are not writers, but they perform a similar function).

The counterpart of a film editor is the book editor. The film editor takes the director’s beloved rushes and chops them up into bitty pieces (or, if they work digitally, chops them up into bitty clips) and strings them all up together to make a better film. Similar to what the book editor does with words.

And lastly, why do I say a non-English major is sometimes the publishing company’s best friend? Well, when you spend days and days writing analytical papers about fiction and then tearing that well-loved work to shreds in the often futile hope of getting an A, you often lose the point of literature, which is to enjoy reading. Not to mention you become over-analytical and start assuming every other phrase is a metaphor for some greater and deeper meaning.

Also, I am very annoyed by English majors that assume they will get a job immediately after college with MacMillian or Random House or HarperCollins just because they majored in English. Come on, it makes you no better than me. Especially if you can’t write well.

Finally, because everyone can use a bit of this in their day (as you can tell, today was an exceptionally bad one for me):

There you go. Film editing.