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The Evolution of the Cover

A recent post by our author on his blog—but this one about rabbits (you can see it here)—featured a cover of the Richard Adams’ novel, Watership Down. The cover looked unfamiliar—not the book we remember. It turned out to have been the original cover of that book when it was issued by Rex Collins in hardback in 1972. This got us thinking about the evolution of the cover. With a little effort, we managed to get six different cover images for this title. They are shown next and arranged left to right, top to bottom by date of issue.

The covers are those found on Rex Collins’ first edition, 1972; the Simon & Schuster hardback edition, 1974; HarperCollins’ paperback in 1976; Scribner’s 1996 hardback edition; HarperCollins’s paperback in 2001; and Scribner’s paperback edition of 2005. We note here that the hardback editions (first, second, and fourth in sequence) have a more toned-down, demure sort of look—whereas the paperback editions are visually more appealing.

Watership Down is also available on DVD in multiple versions, and those covers are the most dramatic yet. We show here the Deluxe Edition, an animated film, directed by Martin Rosen and issued by Warner Home Videos.

Of note here—from our perspective, as we begin to work with covers and try to find the right way to attract the reader while also staying true to the content—is that all of these covers do accurately capture the feeling-tone and message contained in this classic modern work.

If these covers produce a certain degree of pleasure and, perhaps, of mild delight, our researches have also uncovered something much more impressive. It is a stunning site from Chez Zeus on 100 years of covers of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. That book first appeared in 1898, published by William Heinemann. It has been in print since then continuously. Journey here to admire and to wonder…


2 Responses

  1. The best of them is, of course, the 1976 paperback cover.

    Why? Because that’s the one that *I* read.

  2. Thus far, No. 3 is everybody’s favorite!

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