Throwback Thursday, Book Cover Edition: Everything Old Is New Again

It’s a truism of reading that books are judged by their covers, no matter how much we feel in our hearts that we shouldn’t be swayed by looks. In my experience, teen readers feel especially passionate about this. Shabby book? No way. Juvenile or dated-looking cover? Pass! So I pay extra attention when older books are issued with fresh new covers. In the visual world of teen marketing, it can mean a new lease on life for many older books, and discovery by a whole new generation. Here are just a few examples:

face on the milk carton pair
1990 design vs. 2012 design


forever pair
1975 design vs. 2014 design

1983 cover vs. 2011 cover
1983 design vs. 2011 design


1981 design vs. 2015 design
1981 design vs. 2015 design

Taking Terri Mueller‘s reissue caught my eye, because it’s a book that I tore through as a teen. I can still feel Terri’s anxiety in that phone both, even though today’s teens have no idea what a phone booth *is,* or why she is wearing that weird vest or hairstyle. That 1981 book would never go out at my library, whereas the new one, with its bright, clean design and more timeless teen model, stands a chance. The reboot of Terri is a new offering from Lizzie Skurnick Books, an imprint whose mission fits this topic: to bring back YA literature gems of the 1970s and 1980s (and earlier!).

1986 design vs. 2004 design
1986 design vs. 2004 design


1988 design vs. 2006 design
1988 design vs. 2006 design

Of course, some book cover reissues do not go over so well (looking at you, blonde Anne of Green Gables), and some don’t count as throwbacks at all (Mia Cabana talked about paperback redesigns for the Hub in 2011; some of these titles haven’t been out that long). But as far as taking an older book and giving it new life, there’s nothing like a fresh cover design to bring it back into the limelight.

Do you feel like these are successful cover reissues? Do you have any personal favorites (or fails) that you’ve noticed?

~Rebecca O’Neil, currently reading Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed

6 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday, Book Cover Edition: Everything Old Is New Again”

  1. The new covers for Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series are quite good. The originals the ones I read) are still ok, but look a little dated. The new ones are much more vibrant.

  2. Do you think it will throw readers when the content of these books is dated? I have totally gotten side-eye when I try to book talk “Face on the Milk Carton” unless I basically bill it as historic fiction…

    Also, I am so glad you mentioned the blond Anne of Green Gables cover! *GRRRRR*

    1. Yeah, I feel like billing it as historic fiction can help. I know I’ve had teens either love or hate the dated references in some Lois Duncan books I loved when I was younger…but that’s just my perspective and experiences.

    2. You know, it’s funny you say that. I’ve booktalked the new-cover “Face on the Milk Carton” with great success, just by saying “she saw herSELF on a missing person ad!” That hook feels like a universal fear. But I haven’t heard whether those teens pursue the book and are turned off by the dated references.

  3. Love the reissues of Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, as well as A to Z mysteries…really appreciate the ones above, a new more updated cover makes a Huge difference with our library patrons!

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