I received an email from Emily, who wanted to draw my attention to a specific book she found in her library:
I don't know if you've seen this before, but I couldn't help sharing. I was at my library and I signed out Loretta Chase's Viscount Vagabond.
I wasn't sure what the cover would look like, because I knew old school ones were very over the top. I was picturing Fabio, fuchsia clinch, and what I got was so much stranger than that. SO MUCH Stranger!
Oh, lordy, Emily is not lying.
Here is the original cover to Viscount Vagabond, a Regency romance originally published in 1990:
It's pink! So very, very pink! But that's not the cover Emily got.
No, not that one either. That's the digital re-issue, and it's not horrible, but (I think I've talked about this) I'm not a fan of photograph covers on historicals. But that's not the cover Emily got, oh no.
Are you ready?
Emily got the large print edition:
Emily: I suspect the cover has little to do with the story. Either that or it's biracial lesbian romance set in the Regency, in which case Loretta Chase is awesome.
Sarah: What the hell is that book about?
Carrie: It's a bleak, searing examination of race, gender, and class in Regency England. She commits suicide at the end. He is hung for a crime he didn't commit. It's very sad.
RedHeadedGirl: Did the large print edition time-travel everyone to to late 80s, early 90s? Cuz that's the only thing that explains that hair.
Sarah: Is she wearing a turtleneck?
Elyse: Okay, so apparently the Vagabond Viscount was African American. That's a plot twist. Wait, Carrie, did you seriously read it? Or is that depressing cover snark?
Carrie: I'm just snarking, because it looks like depressing things I had to read in college. But honestly the dark tale of oppression pretty much writes itself, doesn't it? I mean, that's an English Lit cover right there.
Elyse: I'm all REALLY?!?
Sarah: If I had that cover staring up at me from my bag, I'd be saying, REALLY?!? too!
And it's not just the Chase large print that has a very unique cover.
This is the large print for River Lady by Jude Deveraux:
And this is the large print for Twin of Ice by Jude Deveraux:
How amazing is that difference, huh? They look nothing like what one would expect on a romance novel.
Now, granted, these are much older titles and newer large print editions have the same if not very similar covers as the other editions. I noticed with some of the more recent books at Thorndike Press, for example, that the large print covers were different, but not completely different. For example, here's the A Rogue By Any Other Name large print cover:
And here's Jo Beverley's A Scandalous Countess, paperback on the left, and large print on the right:
The differences are far less, though clearly there's some other goals at work with the large print cover art – some of which, I imagine, address ease of reading and visibility to those with visual impairments.
Have you seen any interesting large print covers? What would you guess Viscount Vagabond was about based on the cover?