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.


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.



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?


Kay Nielsen: Illustrations

This isn’t exactly about cover art, though some of Kay Nielsen’s drawings have graced the covers of picture books and storybook anthologies. Nielsen is an acclaimed illustrator from the earlier part of the 20th century.

I’ve had a copy of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, illustrated by Nielsen, since childhood. I was intrigued by his style and wanted to see more of his work after I revisited the book this week. This led to an overly long time spent researching folktale illustrations (hey, I guess that would be useful for publishing…?), especially Norwegian ones.

I’m half Norwegian, and have found myself very interested in my roots lately. Nielsen is Danish, but he has done plenty of work on Norwegian folktales. He died in poverty–a sad ending for someone so talented. I find it discouraging that so many creative visionaries find themselves in less than desirable circumstances at their deaths (with notable exceptions, of course, such as Walt Disney).

What’s even more discouraging is that this book now sells for near $40,000, and the author sees none of the profits (well, that would be hard since he’s been dead for years, but you know what I mean).

Here’s a nice biography of the illustrator. And here’s a link to the online version of the book, posted by Project Gutenberg . Gotta love them.

Some illustrations from East of the Sun and West of the Moon, by Peter Christen Asbj√łrnsen and J√łrgen Engebretsen Moe, published 1914 by Hodder & Stoughton:

“'Well, mind and hold tight by my shaggy coat, and then there’s nothing to fear,' said the Bear, so she rode a long, long way." --East of the Sun, West of the Moon
"Then he coaxed her down and took her home." --The Lassie and her Godmother
"And then she lay on a little green patch in the midst of the gloomy thick wood." -- East of the Sun, West of the Moon
The Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain
‚Äú'You‚Äôll come to three Princesses, whom you will see standing in the earth up to their necks, with only their heads out.'‚ÄĚ --The Three Princesses of Whiteland

And an illustration not from the collection:

Nielsen's sketch for the Little Mermaid (Disney)

Now, finally, the actual book. The original edition from 1914:

Folio released a new edition of the book in 2000.

My version (1977, Dover):

Apparently it’s worth around $200…I guess we’ll be keeping that one. Maybe in the year 2050 we’ll be able to sell the book as an artifact.

Thanks for reading! Cheers!


Everyone’s favorite idiot, Candide, is a character in another of the most reissued books of all time. I’m sure Voltaire would have something witty to say about each of these editions.

First, the original. This first edition was issued in 1759, by Cramer. Prints were quickly copied and made into the knock-off “17 editions” of Candide. Silly counterfeiters.

This is a fairly nondescript edition from 1884, issued by Routledge.

This is my second favorite edition, and if I had $650 to throw around, I’d buy it immediately. It’s a flash image and I couldn’t find a photo of it anywhere else, so if you want, you can follow the link. It’s from 1928, by Nilsson.

Then Random House issued this reprint in 1928, with illustrations by Rockwell Kent:

That illustration is not for the faint of heart.

Random House reissued this print in 1975. Little changed, so I guess it sold well.

Then we have my favorite one: The Folio Society’s edition. It sold for $375.00 and only 1000 copies were printed. For shame. Though I’m not sure how I would feel about acquiring a $375.00 version of a work I could get for $5.00 from Dover Classics.

Speaking of which, here’s my copy, the infamously ugly Dover Classics edition from 1991.

I hate that version. What’s with the weird marbled effect on the cover? Not to mention the actual contents of the book. What a shoddy translation. Don’t buy this one. Go for either of these two:

Penguin Classics from 2005 and 2009 respectively.

And this is only a selection. There are loads of other versions. Too many, I think, for the average reader. How does one know what translation will be accurate? Each of these touts itself as an informative edition. The Dover one certainly wasn’t.

If anyone knows someone at Europa, put in a good word for me! I’m applying for their winter internship. Internships seem to be just as competitive as jobs now. Hopefully I’ll get one…


The Blue Fairy Book

Right now, I’m working on a feature-length screenplay adaptation of the fable Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain, one of my favorite childhood stories. I highly recommend you follow the link and read it, as it’s one of those fables you just can’t help but like. I was hopeful to find the story in another Norwegian anthology, but I had trouble locating a decent one. The search eventually led me to one of the best fairytale collections of all time (I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about): The Blue Fairy Book, by Andrew Lang.

Andrew Lang has written a ton of fairy books, all different colors (there’s even an olive fairy book!), all with collected short fables from around the world. I wish I had this when I was little (we had a Norwegian collection that only contained four longer fairy tales and the Hans Christian Anderson collection)!

I thought that since I spend roughly five hours a day pouring over a fairytale, it would be nice to do a quick post about the beautiful cover art that has adorned Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book over the decades.

This is the original 1889 edition, published by Longmans, Green, and Co of London. Henry Justice Ford did the illustrations (one from East of the Sun, West of the Moon, another short Norwegian fairytale, is at the bottom of the post).





This is followed by the David Mckay edition of 1921. Slightly less whimsical and a bit more cartoonish, but still cute. I prefer the original, but who doesn’t? Usually the first editions are always the most tasteful.





Then we have the Dover Classics edition from 1965. This one is pretty blah. It’s boring and the color blue they chose is a bit too pale.






Finally, there’s the 2003 edition from Folio of London. I really like this one. It is bound in the style of the 1890s and tries to imitate the feeling of the original illustrations. I prefer this color blue (a little less cornflower) than that of the Dover version. I also really like the details on the spine.



Not to mention the interior! The illustrations are gorgeous.

Henry Justice Ford's illustration from the 1889 version

I love fairytales. Now it’s off to edit my own (which, by the way, takes place in Nazi-era Norway and involves soldiers and wolves. It promises to be highly entertaining). Cheers!