Anne's Makeover Mistake

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The snobbish uppity Henry Higgins undertook the makeover on a bet.  The bet was a bet among gentlemen and one that gentlemen would make - like betting on a horse at the Royal Ascot.  In Professor Higgins' case, the bet was on a makeover.  The wagered makeover was of transforming a never polished Cockney flower girl into well bred Lady. 

The magical Fairy Godmother madeover the mistreated Cinderella, downtrodden by her evil stepmother and step-sisters, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizzella.  But, magically appearing, the Fairy God Mother and makes over Cinderella with a silver blue dress, footman, and carriage just in time to attend Prince Charming's Ball. 

Anyway, as I sit on the divan, nodding, nearly napping, but watching CNN, loosely following headlines coming from chatty voices, and then CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien begins talking of Anne of Green Gables.   Jolted by the talk of Anne of the Red Hair amid reports of riots, rebellions, and assassinations, I pinched myself to register my consciousness.  Over the next several minutes, anchors Soledad O'Brien, Christine Romans, and guest Abby Huntsman pilloried the perpetrators of a new low concept of Anne as a blond vixen. The story has not changed, just the cover has morphed Anne into a hottie.

The purveyors of this feeble literary effort is CreateSpace of Amazon.com.  This new book cover may catch the eye of the Harlequin set but electronic book marketing companies may as well discard all the classic book covers and re-package them with some cutie-pie. 

CreateSpace is a design, editing, and marketing firm and that capitalized on the fact that Anne of Green Gables' copyright expired in 1993. 

Said L.M. Montgomery scholar Irene Gammel, "It's legitimate to update the packaging of a text to make it accessible to the new readerships, but it's another matter to miss the point of a novel."  She also said, "It's weird to package Ann like a soft porn star...This strategy may well backfire. 

CreateSpace's fling at publishing has achieved, ingloriously, notice north and south of the border.  The U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) headlined:" Anne of Green Gables gets a bad makeover."  The National Post of Canada wrote:  "Anne of Green Gables get sexy makeover...Canadian fans are not amused."  The New York Daily News wrote: "Meet the sexy blond Anne of Green Gables."  CNN gives them a public spanking. 

The defect in CreateSpace's product is that it sponsors an adage it must know as true: "You can't tell a book by its cover."  

The marketers at CreateSpace may well be planning an onslaught of new book covers for any book including the classics.  They may be starting out at Ulysses as it is often viewed as the number one novel of all time and comes in a plain cover.  They may not have to think too hard to find a new cover.

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  • Cartman
    February 09, 2013 - 19:03

    No one wants to look at a ginger. That is just the way that the world works. These people have to make sales.

  • klaus kaczor
    February 09, 2013 - 16:50

    Seems like a great marketing ploy to me. Look at all the freebe buzz this tempest in a tea cup on cover has provoked.

  • Ken McRorie
    February 09, 2013 - 16:26

    How sad that America can't stop the sexualizing of their culture by portraying this imagine as Anne. They have given the islamists another rock to throw at how decrepit U.S. culture has become.

  • CP
    February 09, 2013 - 12:21

    Perhaps Createspace should revise Abraham Lincoln's image as a WWE wrestler with long blond hair and no beard riding a motorcycle. Sounds like these folks are desparate enough to try. Unfortunately, that would probably sell.

  • Ross
    February 09, 2013 - 12:08

    Maybe I'm just saying this because I've been exposed mostly to academic publications of classic lit over the last several years of my life, but people who design book covers have become amongst the worst at their jobs. Ninety percent of the time the image on the cover (if there even is one) has little to nothing to do with the content of the book. Its like the person in charge of this, looks for whatever gift shop post card sorta represents the story. The book will be Frankenstein and then the cover will be some ice bergs. I mean I know it begins in the arctic and all but it's not like most of the book takes place there. The interesting part is the freakish, giant man-monster. A simple drawing of that'd clarify the content of the book and sell some copies too. And if they want an overly sexualized Anne, at least make her a red head, maybe like Lilly Cole or a younger Nicole Kidman or something. Yeesh.

  • Debra
    February 09, 2013 - 11:44

    I can hardly wait to see CreateSpace do a cover of Little House on the Prairie.

  • Kyle
    February 09, 2013 - 10:59

    Was I the only one amused by the fact the author doesn't seem to care about the assassinations or murders that they mention, but thinks changing a book cover is worthy of an article...

  • jimbo jones
    February 09, 2013 - 08:47

    enough whining about this. just as when brits objected to a blond bond, wait to judge based on merit, not looks. it might just be great.

  • Beverley L. Carter
    February 08, 2013 - 23:35

    L M Montgomery wrote Anne as a red haired girl; it was the reason for many of the situations Anne found herself in, and to change that is to change her and violate the whole character. For me, the Megan Follows characterization will always personify Anne Shirley probably as faithfully as she was written by Lucy Maude Montgomery. She isn't and wouldn't be blonde, not unless it was a possibility of the time period she came from, which it is, and was not. Red hair is almost impossible to bleach out to blonde now and it would not have been possible at all in the era she was from. If she is changed, she is not Anne of Green Gables! Call her something else and leave Anne Shirley as she is!