What the hell were they thinking?

We’ve all been there. We’re wandering through a bookstore–could be gigantic, could be a small, local operation–the shelves are loaded to the max on either side, and we stumble across a book that looks interesting. We buy it, take it home, read half of it, and never look at it again, except to throw it out or give it to a charity so some other poor slob can be suckered in and then disappointed. Some charity.

Or maybe we’re wandering virtually, through the endless digital bookshelves at Amazon. We may or may not have an author in mind. We might not even care what genre a writer works in so long as the story, the cover, or the blurb on the back catches our eye. We’re looking for something; we’re just not sure what.

And then we see it. And one question pops instantly into our heads: What the hell were they thinking?

It’s a book, right? Probably. But I doubt I’d read it. Then again, there’s something about it… Maybe it’s the possibility I won’t be able to get the image out of my head. Whoever produced this must have had a story in mind.

I dunno. Maybe not.

Bad book covers are nothing new. I presume that’s because bad taste is nothing new. I don’t have enough knowledge of genetics to know if bad taste is an inherited trait or not. My guess is that it’s driven more by environment.

The idea, however, drove me to look for some really bad covers that came out in the past. To my surprise, there were quite a few. I’ve taken the liberty of selecting three for your edification.

To wit:

There’s bound to be some historical, regional, and/or social background information that might explain these covers to readers attuned to current marketing. Still, I can’t help but grin when I see them. It makes me think I couldn’t possibly do worse.

That’s something, isn’t it?


About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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7 Responses to What the hell were they thinking?

  1. Sarah Ash says:


    Sent from my iPhone


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  2. joshlangston says:

    Thanks for dropping by, Sarah. Glad to see I delivered a giggle!

  3. Don says:

    “Quality Religious Books For Children”. Really

    Although making money in spare time by dubious means may be interesting and/or comical

    You point is well taken

  4. An-l says:

    You are so right about this! Sometimes the back cover leads you on more than the front. Your ideas made me smile. Thanks.

  5. Very interesting. Made me think.

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