Would The Great Gatsby have become the Great American Novel without the gorgeous, instantly recognizable cover that graced the book upon its first printing in 1925? It's a question many asked last week when Scribner released a special movie tie-in edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, sporting a garish cover based on Baz Luhrmann's equally garish-looking upcoming 3D adaptation.
"It's just god-awful," says bookseller Kevin Cassem in an interview with The New York Times "The Great Gatsby is a pillar of American literature, and people don't want it messed with."
Fitzgerald might agree; the author was reportedly so taken with Francis Cugat's cover design that he said he had "written it into" The Great Gatsby before the book was even published.
Sadly, for years publishers have marked film adaptations of popular literary works by releasing a movie tie-in cover for the original novel, simultaneously infuriating purists and juicing sales. Here, see the Leonardo DiCaprio edition of The Great Gatsby, and seven other hideous movie tie-in covers:
1. The Great Gatsby (2013)
Francis Cugat's 1925 symbol-laden cover design for The Great Gatsby is one of the most beloved book covers of all time — but the ambiguous eyes over a carnival setting don't have the blockbuster appeal of Leonardo DiCaprio in a tuxedo, looming over the rest of the film's celebrity cast.
2. The Hobbit (2012)
The paperback tie-in cover to last year's blockbuster The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was actually relatively restrained, using the font and an image of star Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, but staying away from the "floating head" motif that characterizes so many movie tie-in covers. Fortunately, fans had an even more compelling option: A gorgeous 75th Anniversary Edition of Tolkien's The Hobbit, with cover artwork based on the 1937 first edition.
3. On the Road (2012)
Unlike many of the books on this list, Jack Kerouac's 1957 Beat treatise On The Road isn't particularly well-known for a single cover design, having cycled through many in the decades since its original publication. But On The Road surely deserves better than this lame cover designed to tie in to last year's forgettable film adaptation — especially because the cover shamelessly features a prominent shot of star Kristen Stewart.
4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
How could marketers possibly improve on the instantly recognizable blank yellow cover for Stephen Chbosky's 1999 young adult novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower? By turning it into a brick wall, and situating the film's young cast in a cuddly pose in front of it.
5. The Road (2009)
Like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Cormac McCarthy's 2007 post-apocalyptic novel The Road sports a distinctively minimalist cover so beloved by fans that even the sticker attached to the novel after Oprah selected it for her book club made some people angry. One can only imagine how fans felt about the cheesy tie-in cover released just two years later, which show's the film's central characters — who were far more ambiguous in the novel — walking through a white wasteland.
6. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
There are seven books in C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia series, so most editions are designed to fit neatly alongside the other six books in the series. But the hideous movie tie-in edition for Prince Caspian, the second book in the series, resembles nothing so much as a fantasy-tinged romance novel, with Ben Barnes' Prince Caspian staring serenely at the reader.
7. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
When the gaudy movie tie-in cover to Douglas Adams' 1979 sci-fi/comedy novel was released, many fans balked at the disappearance of the "Cosmic Cutie" — a green, eyeless ball sticking its tongue out, which had appeared in one form or another on most American editions of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for decades. But this is the rare movie tie-in cover that might actually have been closer to the author's original vision; Adams reportedly hated the logo, and repeatedly lobbied to get it removed.
8. I, Robot (2004)
The book behind this Will Smith cover is sure to disappoint fans of the movie, as this edition of Isaac Asimov's short story collection I, Robot contains nine stories — none of which were actually depicted in the film. The book's original cover depicts an ominous-looking robot, which is one of the few things that the film has in common with its very, very loosely adapted source material.