Broken Covers – John le Carré

Publishers are always looking to refresh the backlist of authors and sell more copies. In the 70’s the beautiful painted book covers went out of fashion and photo covers came into vogue. The UK publisher Fontana had paperback rights to many of the well known thriller writers of the time like Desmond Bagley, Alastair Maclean, Hammond Innes, Helen MacInnes and Eric Ambler. I would imagine that if you’re a successful writer the occasional wonky cover art comes with the territory but these covers in particular were very, very odd. Broken Covers is an occasional series looking at some of these covers.

Find everything I’ve written on John le Carré here

Given his popularity, we’ve seen many publishers reissue John le Carré’s books in new editions. Most of the time that has resulted in some fine covers and a few truly outstanding ones. However, I have managed to lay hands on images of a few that, if not completely terrible, do leave significant room for improvement.

I’ll start with some photo covers. The first two aren’t bad, but don’t really seem to do a lot to connect to the story or make someone want to pick up the book.

This third image is taken from the film adaption of The Looking-glass War, but manages to choose a very boring image for the cover. It looks like a couple of soldiers helping someone with a tummy problem. Not exactly screaming exciting spy story.

Beyond photo covers, there are a couple others that are so out there they deserve to be highlighted.

I typically don’t like to disparage other people’s art, but when compared to some of the other artwork I’ve written about that has been produced for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, this one seems to miss the mark.

I actually have a copy of this book on its way and I hope to update this post with a better image but this is another where I think they may have needed to go back to the drawing board.

Do you know of any other questionable le Carré covers? Let me know in the comments.

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