I love looking at foreign covers of books I know. They reimagine what’s inside. Oftentimes, they have little to do with the book at all. A book cover is advertising. There’s always some level of bait-and-switch involved.
Like candy wrappers, you can imagine and hope about what the thing will be like once opened.
I wonder what instructions the editor gives the illustrator. Do they bother reading the thing beforehand? This German edition of Man With the Golden Arm looks like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
The Polish Never Come Morning is a jazzy cartoon while the Spanish Walk on the Wild Side is film noir.
How does a shopper pick what book to buy? If these Spanish and Italian translations were side by side would anyone guess they come from the same source?
Some look like spaghetti westerns while others make me hear bossa nova. Some are hastily chosen paintings with some text slapped over them while others have been created especially for the occasion. Oftentimes the original art isn’t even credited. Book publishing can be as fly-by-night as any other disreputable business. I wonder whether some of these designers got paid for their work?
I haven’t had a book translated yet. I wonder what that would feel like? Whatever language it happens in they probably won’t mess with the covers since I made them too. Or maybe they will. The marketing department will have a meeting and decide they can’t sell the book with the art I made.
Then they can make a movie and have it have nothing to do with the book.