I was thinking about book covers again, which continue to fascinate me. My interest this time was in Rules of Civility, a fairly popular book from last year. I don't really know anything about the story or author, but I know the hardcover version featured the cover to the right, a woman lounging on a chair, likely from the 1920's, as a man sat beside her, holding a drink.
When I first saw it on the bookstore shelves, I recognized it immediately as the same photo used on the Penguin Classics edition of The Great Gatsby. Disappointment is all I felt. While the photo likely fits both books, I guess I had just always assumed that the photo was taken exclusively for the purpose of putting it on the cover of one of the all time great novels. Never for an instance did I think it was merely a stock photo of the 1920's for use, wherever. The photo just screams Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan!
Even without knowing anything about Rules of Civility, I know it is no match for Fitzgerald's masterpiece, and therefore is not deserving of sharing the same cover image. To me, this is as if somebody had slapped Ferrari's bucking horse on a Lada. Sure, they're both cars from Europe, but never should the two be sharing anything of this magnitude, and never would anybody confuse one for the other.
I think it also says a little about Rules of Civility, or at least its publisher. A book cover is so important and good ones can be so effective at making people pick a book up, which makes me wonder why a publisher would put so little effort into marketing a new book by simply using a stock photo. While the same could be said of Gatsby, it is a book that sells itself on reputation alone, and doesn't really need a fancy cover. Having said that, I'm a little disappointed that Penguin would use a stock photo for a book of Gatsby's magnitude. You'd think there are more than enough photos to go around, and that books needn't be sharing them.