As a follow up to Jennifer Esmail’s interesting posts on the marketing of Victorian novels with classic status through new covers, I wanted to share these books from Anthropologie, which are nineteenth-century classics being marketed for the holiday season solely through their covers. In the last post, Jen talked about how Victorian novels like Dracula and Wuthering Heights were being repackaged with gothic covers to appeal to the Twilight generation, and how this underscored that more traditional covers are also a form of marketing.
Anthropologie, it seems to me, is positioning these books above all as covetable objects to enhance on one’s shelf rather than something to be read. I don’t mean that as a negative comment– I’m all for books as aesthetic objects. Indeed, the audience for these “classics” re-wrapped is none other than me, judging by how many emails I get a day from them and how much I enjoy their sale rack. The books are whimsical and colourful repackaged bits of nineteenth-century nostalgia. (Could this be Anthropologie’s overall branding, and why I like it?) It’s interesting to note that their choices–Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Little Women–all feel safely mid-Victorian rather than more threateningly gothic in this packaging, even if one is American, two aren’t Victorian at all, and the ones by the Brontës are rather gothic.
What’s your take? Would you buy these for the holidays? I’m limited by shelf space and an aversion to buying books in the public domain that don’t have the added value of scholarly annotations, otherwise I might be tempted… They are pretty, aren’t they?