Movie Posters as Book Covers

From Twilight to Pride and Prejudice, books that have been made into movies have the movie poster replace the book cover. Usually, I am against owning these. I don’t want everyone to think that I am just reading a book because Anne Hathaway is on the cover. I usually like to read the book before the movie.

With me using eBooks more and more (thus eliminating this problem) books that I buy in paper form have become even more about how they look on the bookshelf…or about how they won’t electrocute me if I drop them in the bathtub. Anyways, it seems like a shame to get rid of the beautiful cover art that has been created with the book in mind. Even the classic penguin covers have an appeal that outweighs Hollywood celebrity.

I think this is a pretty common opinion, but I also know that sometimes I take the cover of a book a little too seriously. My mother, who will probably be the first person to read this post, will remember a trip to Barnes and Noble when I spent almost 20 minutes deciding which copy of The Portable Dorothy Parker. I was probably close to tears as I told her, “I just am so tired of making decisions.” I ended up picking this one, in case you were wondering. Pretty, right?

However, with the seeds of this blog post in my mind, last week at the library I ended up checking a book out almost solely because of the cover. It was Inventing the Abbots, by Sue Miller. While I can, perhaps legitimately claim, that I picked the book up out of a curiosity about my former professor. But that would be a false claim, I’ve had 2 years without expressing the curiosity, and there are more well-known and critically acclaimed works I could have chosen.

No, I picked it up because I saw Liv Tyler and Joaquin Phoenix falling over a car seat and thought “Oh my goodness, there is that movie I used to watch on Lifetime when I was home from school sick.” Now, I’m not sure if I need to rethink my former opinions.

What do you think? Are you more or less likely to read a book with a movie poster for a cover?

22 thoughts on “Movie Posters as Book Covers

  1. I’m honestly not sure how to answer this! If the poster cover were compelling, I think I’d be curious, whereas if it wasn’t evocative I might be turned off from both the book and the movie.

    As for books I already know I like, I’d much prefer not to have the movie cover. I had a lovely copy of The Princess Bride in Japan that I loaned to a friend; it never made it back to me, so I bought a copy off Amazon after a few years stateside. I was disappointed that the only one available featured the movie characters. I love the book, but didn’t especially enjoy the movie, leaving a correlation that wasn’t beneficial in my mind. Even thinking of it makes me grimace. I wish I could collect my Japanese copy from history!

  2. As predicted First!
    I agree don’t want people to think I am reading a book because of the movie – however, as I am not worried about electrocution – I almost exclusively on e-books so I no longer need to worry about cover art. However, I hate to think about loosing book cover art – similar to when album cover art died.

    • I hadn’t thought about ability to fit in purse. That is an important factor when buying a book. I hate to sacrifice the size of the type for the size of the book though. Like somehow reading books with small font makes me feel cheap. Which probably makes me a crazy.

      • I do most of my reading either on lunch break or while commuting, so it’s generally my first criterion when deciding whether to buy a book. At the same time, I also refuse to buy a purse unless it can fit at least two additional paperbacks on top of whatever else I put in it.

  3. I almost wrote a post on covers earlier today (I still might). I was reading Goodreads’ April newsletter and this beautiful cover caught my eye. The book was called The Selection and had this fantastically dramatic shot of a girl in a blue ball gown surrounded by mirrors.

    The vast majority of the reviews seemed to rate it at one or two stars.

    I put a lot of stock into covers even though I know I shouldn’t, because the author usually has almost nothing to do with cover art. It’s all marketing. I haven’t read City of Bones yet because I think the cover tries too hard. I won’t pick up half the vampire novels in the YA section because they all look exactly the same.

    And I refuse to buy a movie cover edition. It always makes me feel like the movie came before the book, which is practically never true. If I can find a copy without the movie cover I might be interested.

  4. No, I go out of my way to hunt down a copy without the movie/ t.v. poster on the cover. I do not want to see actor/ actresses in my mind when I am picturing the characters. Sometimes it ruins the plot and I am not tempted to ever pick it up again.

    I typically read books based on their covers, if it does”t catch my eye, I may not ever pick it up. Great post.

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. That’s a really good point about the picture on the cover taking away the imagination that is essential to reading. I want to imagine what the person looks like based on the authors descriptions, not the cover.

  5. What a timely post, nice! 🙂 With the current trend of bestsellers being turned to movies, book lovers usually end up disappointed when their favorite books change their covers to mainstream hollywood celebrities. Although this might get more public demand rates, I think I prefer the original art covers. Afterall, book covers, and interesting titles, are primary attention-getters. Plus, overrated celebrity images make reading feel public instead of “personal.” 😉

  6. Personally, I prefer the original (movie-unrelated) version, and if it’s a series of books or just a few from the same writer I also want to get them from the same publisher so all the covers are in the same style and all the books equally sized. Unfortunately, I’m too impatient for that, so I have quite a few “strays” in my collection. Anyway… Love this post, and thanks for stopping by 😉

  7. I usually read the book before the movie is in the works (exceptions: Girl With a Pearl Earring and The Lord of the Rings, both my copies have the film covers). But I’m not picky. If I like the book, I will be more likely to seek out a copy that has a nice cover, but if I’m not that invested in the book I’ll buy whatever’s cheapest.

  8. I usually just pick up whatever is cheapest or in stock. Though I must say that I prefer non-movie poster covers as I don’t want to imagine that actors as much because sometimes the actor looks nothing like their description.

  9. I’m definitely against movie covers for book covers, I just don’t like them. I much prefer the book to have it’s own personality. Great post! 🙂

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