05 December 2007

Cover Comparisons

My regular readers (is that hoping too much?) might have noticed a recent addition to the blog: the "Currently Reading" box, where I put up a picture of whatever book I am... uh... currently reading. (Update: I deep-sixed this feature; I got tired of updating it.) The name won't win any blogosphere titles for best caption, but at least it needs no other explanation.

Yet here I am giving one anyway. Although the picture correctly identifies the text of the book, the specific cover doesn't necessarily match the edition I own. I am a connoisseur of books in every way, and that includes a devotion to different covers and varied artistic interpretations. I tend to favor the original covers for older books instead of the more mundane modern designs, which often have a stale cookie-cutter feel to them.

Case in point, the book pictured as of this writing: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Dame Agatha Christie. The edition I own is the mass market paperback from Berkley. It's essentially just an azure-tinted photograph, and the car in the picture certainly wasn’t one driven in 1926, when the action occurs. The design fits the standard artwork of the current American paperbacks of Christie’s novels and demands little from the eye. So I chose to use the cover of the first British printing—one I definitely couldn't afford to own. Although the clothing of the woman on the cover shows its late-‘20s origin, the design isn’t dated a bit. It could appear, exactly reproduced, on a current paperback and not look the least strange. It’s much more eye-catching. Why commission new art when you've great material right there?

For your consideration: On the left, the Berkley edition (2004 U.S.). On the right, the William Collins & Sons edition (1926 U.K.).