It does the soul good, every now and then, to point at book covers gone terribly wrong. Sometimes I'm not a fan of a cover, and I say so, but I feel a bit bad, as it's a matter of taste, and maybe I'm wrong.
Sometimes, though, there's no way I could be wrong. Remember the woefulness of these ebook covers? Well, I've recently found the output of a POD outfit called Tutis Digital Publishing. Like a thousand other operations, most of their catalogue seems to be books taken from Project Gutenberg and other online public-domain text depositories, dumped into a Microsoft Word template, and then slapped between covers featuring a bit of cheap or free stock art.
Sometimes this art is basically appropriate enough.
These are fine. Leadenly literal, but they make sense.
Then there are those where you can see the thought processes involved. The Cuckoo Clock? Put a cuckoo on the cover. Dawn of All? Put a dawn on the cover.
These are not really right, nor any actual good, but you can see why some harried, underpaid minion at a POD company might have chosen these images while in a rush.
Related to these are the covers where the image has a remotely tangential relationship with the contents of the book.
"Daughter of Eve? There must be a woman in it. This is a picture of a woman. Sure, she's a sort of New Age flea-market-art-stall-idea of a Native American, and she's clutching a gigantic scratched DVD, but she's a woman. It'll do."
"Ancient Egypt? They're famous for, like, big stone monuments, right? Sure, not castles with moats and everything, but it'll do."
"Hmm, a desperate character? He must be, like, a mugger or a bank robber or something. They all wear ski masks, right? What do you mean, Nineteenth-Century Russia? It'll do."
"A Little Tour in France? How do you reckon he got there in the first place, huh?"
"Well, they might mostly be about Irish independence, but see here, it says comedies? Well, see how the amputee octopus is laughing?"
"Hey, it's all 'the past', man!"
The final category is probably the biggest, representing at least half of Tutis's output. I like to call it 'What the flying fuck?'
Presenting Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford: not, as you might have thought, a novella about the relationships between women in a small Victorian-era English town, but the exciting tale of how a woman, having escaped Bond villain Goldfinger's clutches, goes on to become an inveterate fan of chill-out music.
Presenting Walter Scott's Chronicles of the Canongate: not a collection of Scottish short stories, but a science-fiction extravaganza set on an alien world with multiple moons.
Presenting Guy Boothby's A Bid for Fortune: not a fin de siècle tale of international master criminal Doctor Nikola, but a confectioner's guide to Christmas.
And presenting Izaak Walton's The Complete Angler: not a rambling guide to fishing, the countryside and rural lore, but the mind-boggling story of divine intervention putting a stop to aquatic thermonuclear war.
Two more, because I couldn't resist: Here's the fourth of Frank L. Baum's Wizard of Oz books, the one that features fighter jets and the planet Mars...
..and a book of short stories from the 1890s, the cover of which inexplicably features a painting of Sailor Mercury, a character from an awful 1990s Japanese cartoon.
Alas, this is not a joke. here's the original painting, and a more typical image of the character:
I literally cannot fathom the thought processes behind these covers. They're a perfect mix of ineptitude, inappropriateness, possible copyright violation, and sheer demented anti-genius.
UPDATE: A number of commenters have added to the madness. Nicole of Bibliographing points out that the last cover actually features Sailor Neptune, not Sailor Mercury. Harry of Heraclitean Fire adds that the bird on the front of The Cuckoo Clock isn't even a cuckoo. Anonymous led me to this even more blatant bit of copyright theft...
..which is not successfully disguised by making Mowgli a sickly hue of green. And finally, Brian of the Dusty Bookcase has gone above and beyond the call of duty by taking this investigation further, revealing the horrors wreaked on innocent Canada by Tutis. He also notes that a number of the books discussed here have suddenly vanished from Tutis's website.