The Worst Book Cover Ever

Only yesterday I was making a few suggestions about what the Summer of Long Knives cover should be. Basically, I suggested a theme and left it at that. The cover artist didn’t tell me how to write the book, so I think it’s fair that, a few general concepts aside, I let the man do his job. (He designed the cover for Dismantle the Sun, which you can see everywhere on this blog, so I feel safe.)

I’d feel less safe if I heard the guy who designed the following cover for the Brazilian version of The Shining was assigned to my cover (from Publisher’s Weekly):

I guess someone didn’t read the book, or see the movie, or see the Simpsons Halloween Special parody, or LIVE DURING THE LAST THIRTY-THREE YEARS, because this cover tells you nothing, absolutely nothing, about what The Shining is about, or even that it’s a horror novel. In fact, the cover is so off that, if I saw this at the airport in Sau Paulo,  I’d have to ask, “You mean THAT Stephen King and THAT The Shining?”

I’m reminded of a story Sidney Lumet tells in Making Movies:

I once made a picture called “The Hill”. It’s a good piece of work. It’s the story of a British prison camp during World War II, but the prisoners are English soldiers who’ve gone AWOL or been caught selling black market goods or have committed any other crimes while in uniform. It takes place in the prison, located in the North African desert. It’s a tough, hard movie, never leaving the confines of the camp except for one quick scene in a cafe and a minor scene in the commandant’s bedroom. Physically, it was as tough a picture as I’d ever made. By the end, I was exhausted.


Long after the ordeal of making it was over, I went to the distributor’s office to look at the opening day ads. It consisted of a full-page drawing of Sean Connery, mouth wide open as if screaming in rage. Above his head, in a “thought balloon” right out of the comics, was a drawing of a belly dancer. Don’t ask me why. Was he angry at the belly dancer? But there was more. Across the top of the ad, in big white letters, the copy read, “Eat it, Mister!” I couldn’t believe my eyes. Even if it had anything to do with the movie–and it didn’t–it made no sense. It was blatant insanity.


That night at dinner, I literally burst into tears.

I’m glad to have my cover artist. I really am.

What’s the worst cover you ever saw?

One thought on “The Worst Book Cover Ever

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