When Books Become Movies: Why Are the Original Covers Being Covered Up?

“I want the original cover! I don’t want to see Sam Claflin and Emilia Clark on the cover.”

I was in the book section of Target when I heard someone two aisles away complaining about how she couldn’t find the original version of Me Before You, a book by Jojo Moyes which has recently been turned into a major motion picture.

It wasn’t until I heard her ranting about this to her friend that I realized how common this was. As soon as a book is announced it’s going to be turned into a movie, the new covers with the actors faces grace all the shelves. It becomes increasingly harder to find a book with the original cover. I’ve noticed someone who wants to get an original cover of paying extra money for shipping. Some people might not mind, but it is a waste of a trip for someone who was hoping to pick up a book with its original cover only to find the ones released for the movies.

When I was reading The Fault in Our Stars and went to search for a copy of my own around the time the movie came out, if I went into a store like Target or Walmart, I had basically no chance of finding a cover without Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort plastered on it. Bookstores are a little better, but the best chance is usually online.

I understand that the hype paves the way for a lot of marketing opportunities. Now that the characters have actors, they become a brand for the movie. But it also brings up an issue that is not completely unlike the popular books into movies debate. Fans may be upset enough to see their favorite books being made into movies because they’re afraid the movies won’t live up to the what the books have given them.

I’ve always been a fan of books being made into movies. In fact, recently I prefer reading books that I know are going to be made into movies because I like reading the story for myself first and then seeing how the director, actors, writers and others who work on the movie interpret the text differently than I did. It’s taking the books you loved and giving them new life.

But limiting the selling of the original book covers is taking away from what the books used to be. While all the authors whose books are made into movies obviously support the decision for this to be done, I feel like only selling the movie covers is trying to erase where the book came from. The movie trailers always boast that the movie you’re about to see was a book first, so taking the original copies off the shelves seems contradictory to me. When fans read books they build up their own worlds in their heads. They have their own ideas of what the characters look like and what the setting is.

So I understand why a lot of fans wouldn’t want to see the books they’ve read become movies because then they’re losing the world they created. You can separate the books and the movies. You can choose not to see the movie or you can choose to treat it as an entirely separate interpretation, but as soon as the movie marketing starts infiltrating its way into the books, there’s no separation anymore. Those characters are only what they are on screen. You can open Twilight without seeing Robert Pattinson, The Hunger Games without Jennifer Lawrence, Divergent without Theo James.

When these new covers are released, they’re giving the books new life, and that’s certainly exciting too. A lot of people see Emma Watson as Hermoine or Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. I just think the old books should be kept around too, because without the original cover that first made that book chosen by curious readers who searched the shelves for a new book, there would be no movie in the first place.

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