Back In The Day, I used to like Wordsworth Classics editions. They were simple, frills-free versions of out of copyright works, which were (crucially, for an impoverished student) very affordable. The covers had reproductions of classic artwork, sometimes tenuously linked to the themes of the work in question. Perhaps they weren’t the most imaginatively designed, but they were functional.
Fast-forward to 2017, and I discovered that these inoffensive covers have been replaced with hideous photoshopped monstrosities. Please remember that someone was presumably paid actual money to design these, as I show you the most mangled and extraordinary covers in their collection.
LADY AUDLEY’S SECRET
Apparently Lady Audley’s secret was that a freak accident during a routine liposuction had left her looking like a Barbie doll of Melania Trump.
I don’t know where to start with this one – the impossibly tacky dress? The guy’s period-inaccurate clothes? The fact that none of the elements of this picture look like they were ever in the same room as each other?
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE-DAME
This looks like an A-Level student’s graphic design project which sandwiched together:
- A stock photo of Notre Dame
- A picture of the student’s sister in a cheap (and culturally insensitive) Halloween costume
- A still from an old horror movie
ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
If I were Wordsworth Classics, I’d be really worried about a phone call from Disney’s lawyers right about now.
This looks like a direct-to-VOD poster for a knockoff Pirates of the Caribbean style film which you find one evening while trawling Netflix. I’ve not read Candide so I can’t be sure, but I suspect that’s not a fair representation of the book itself.
WOMEN IN LOVE
I’m so glad this guy decided to wear a farmland-themed suit rather than one of those boring black and white ones.
NORTH AND SOUTH
This is an impossibly icky mess. I don’t believe that woman’s head was ever really that size. Actually, I don’t believe either of these figures were ever real people.
WIVES AND DAUGHTERS
And finally, the most spectacular one of all. It isn’t the horrible lampshade hat or the uncanny angle of the girl in white’s neck which make this such a weird sight? No, added to these horrors is the fact that the middle figure is a lot more familiar than she should be. You’re looking at Nina Dobrev as Katherine Pierce in CW’s The Vampire Diaries. And no, that isn’t just a budget lookalike or another model wearing the same dress. This is a real photo of Dobrev that someone’s face-swapped with a generic snooty model to make it less recognisable. Don’t believe me? Take a look below at Exhibit A…
As you can see, I’m not impressed by Wordsworth Classics’ book covers, which more than anything else are tacky and charmless. I completely understand that they’re on the cheaper end of affordable, so they’re not going to have the beautifully-designed covers of say, Penguin Classics. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to put any effort into your packaging. Cheap classics are an important way of getting younger audiences, who might not otherwise read them, to pick them up. No one’s going to buy a book with a cover that looks like a GCSE student’s graphic design coursework.