Why do newspapers insist on illustrating an article about a book with a still from the film?
Is it because no one thinks about basics like book covers, or is it that much sexier to have a photo of one or several actors? Are readers (of the newspaper, not the book) deemed to be so shallow that they can only be interested in something straight out of Hollywood?
The second half of 2017 offered quite a few written pieces on the much awaited Book of Dust, and invariably I found myself staring at the film still of Lyra* on Yorek’s back. OK, a small girl riding an armoured bear is striking, but so are many of the book covers of the His Dark Materials books.
With Harry Potter you even have two covers for each original Potter book, adult and child version. And with seven books, that’s a good many choices. But you are offered countless film stills when you google Harry Potter, and if you try Hermione Granger it’s pure Emma Watson.
Even the seasonal The Railway Children offers film pictures before you finally come to a few book covers.
So I suppose it makes sense that someone needing an illustration for an article does a search for whatever it is and finds an attractive photo of real people, rather than a painted or drawn book cover.
And then of course, they put the film still on the book as a new fresh cover, and the movie aspect of the book just grows and grows.
(Book cover by Thomas Taylor)
* I take this back. The Retired Children’s Librarian sent me a cutting from Expressen (Swedish tabloid). It was a review of La Belle Sauvage. This was illustrated by high-rise buildings under attack from massive waves, straight out of the film The Day After Tomorrow…