Cover Retrospective: A Series

Posted March 19, 2017 by Brin in Cover Retrospective, Discussion Posts / 2 Comments

Yikes, I didn’t exactly mean to take over a month-long hiatus from my blog! A combination of being busy at work and having limited internet access is to blame for that but I actually cannot believe it has been THAT long since I last posted.

Cover Retrospective

This is a post I have been sitting on for a while. I rather liked the idea of looking at book covers (I am very much a visual-oriented person) and the idea of changing cover trends and themes has always interested me.

I can recall many trips to my local library over the years (I loved the library and spent the better part of my adolescence there) where I would always be able to determine whether or not I had read a book by looking at its cover. I just seem to have a far better memory for imagery than I do titles or author names. I was really screwed when a new cover was be released and it was quite a common for me to return home from the library with a new pile of books to read, start reading and realize about a couple of pages in that I had already read the book.

I have tried to keep myself up-to-date with cover changes ever since. I am pretty fascinated by how book covers have changed over the years and even more so when it is an older book that goes through many different iterations. I find it really interesting to see how books I cherished when I was younger will get new covers to appeal to a whole new generation of readers.

One author whose books were re-marketed (and modernized, but I’ll touch more on that later) is Lois Duncan.

The Author

Lois Duncan wrote over 40 books and was particularly prolific during the late 1970s and the 1980s. I intend to re-read some of these over the next couple of months as I have been on a bit of a vintage book-buying spree lately and Duncan’s books were at the top of my list.

Many of her books were re-released about 4 or 5 years ago but they were modernized for today’s market and I tend to prefer the original settings/time periods. Ergo, I have been trying my best to get my hands on original copies of the books.

This is rather hard given that I’m here in the UK and some of the most spectacularly awesome vintage covers were released in the US only *wails – why is postage to the UK so expensive?!* 😛

Nevertheless, I am doing my level-best to collect as many as I can – I cannot be the only person who collects multiple copies of books, can I?? o.O

I thought it would be fun to have a bit of a retrospective look at some of Duncan’s covers over the years (the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly lol). I am interested in how trends in cover aesthetics change (1980s covers are just the BEST!) and I hope it is something you guys reading this enjoy as well.

I will rate which one I like the best and I would absolutely LOVE your opinion on it as well so feel free to comment below! Today I’m looking at:

I Know What You Did Last Summer

This is arguably Lois Duncan’s most well-known book (mostly due to the fact that a movie was made in the 1990s). It wasn’t the first book of hers I ever read but it was definitely a memorable one. The story follows a group of teens who get into an accident one night with devastating consequences. They decide to hide the truth of what happened but nothing stays hidden forever as they are soon to find out…

It’s not my favourite of Duncan’s books but it seemed like a good starting off point as I am betting most people are familiar with it to some extent.

The above top row covers are from 1973 (which appears to be the first edition), 1975 (the next three covers are all listed from that year – I can only surmise this is maybe due to each being released in different countries?), and 1987 (both Pan Horizon editions seem to be the same year also). The cover I can remember personally from reading the book as a youth was the last one on the top row.

The bottom covers a range from 1990, 1995, 1998 (the year the film was released with a tie-in cover), 1999, 2010 (the first modernized edition) and 2011.

The first edition looks like a typical hardback from that era. Somewhat minimalist in design but it clearly shows the main plot of the book. The next couple show the usual teens-in-peril covers (with VERY 70s-era hairstyles and clothes) but also tying in the plot with the focus on the car. You can tell this was the era of slasher films like Friday the 13th and Halloween – the covers do envoke that 70s vibe.

The first Pan Horizon cover differs in style quite a bit but follows the trend that this particular publisher had at this time so it is very in-keeping with their aesthetic design. It shows a girl… scrunching up a piece of paper? It’s probably my least favourite cover of the bunch to be honest. The second edition hearkens back to the earlier themes with the focus back on the car and its headlights which indicate the direction the plot takes. I quite like this cover (and not just for nostalgia sake).

This theme is continued in the cover that was published in 1990. There is a girl (with very big, puffy hair!) but you can again see the car headlights in the background and the bike wheels indicating there is going to be some kind of accident. The 1995 cover also follows this theme and somewhat mirrors the original cover withe the car in the distance and the body beside the bike.

The following cover ties in with the film and has pictures of the cast as its focus (hello Buffy!) What’s even more interesting is that the following book shows a figure of a man with a hook – even though that was an element that was made up for the film, if I recall correctly? This wasn’t a tie-in cover either so it is a bit of a departure and doesn’t really fit the tone of the book, more the movie that only loosely followed the original plot.

The last two covers are the modernized versions and you can tell these have a much more modern aesthetic with their focus on large, bold fonts and very minimal backgrounds. I like them ok but they are a little bit dull and bland.

Brin’s Pick:

This cover just gives me all the lulz! It’s so cheesy – check out the tall guy’s expression! Not to mention the heavy beard on the other guy (bear in mind that these characters were supposed to be teenagers – they look about 40 years old). It’s just so very in keeping with the era and I have a fondness for drawn/painted covers that were so prevalent back then. It’s definitely my favourite (but maybe not for the right reasons). 😀


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2 responses to “Cover Retrospective: A Series

  1. Haha! I used to have the 1990 edition of this one! 🙂 If I’m remembering right, about 15 years ago I came across a box of her paperbacks at a yard sale and a lot of them were editions from the early 90s.

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