Judging a book by profit

If you've read Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, you'll know it's dark. It's beautifully poignant, meaningful and painful. If you haven't read the book, the best bit of insight I can offer is that it was published a month before Plath committed suicide.

Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar 50th Anniversary This year publisher Faber has designed the book's 50th anniversary edition cover, and the backlash has already begun. It's been accused of marketing the book as 'chic lit' - completely missing the point of the story.

The Bell Jar is an account of depression. It's about a girl who is limited by her gender, and the expectations society puts on her as a women of the 1950's. The pink cover shows a woman fixing her make-up, looking into a compact mirror - which could be easily interpretted as the antithesis of the book's underlying message. She looks like she's about to embark upon a lovely shopping trip and romantic excursion.

Occasionally, things like this happen and the backlash is a little unjustified. It's safe to say that some of the time, some of us just have too much time on our hands. But this time I have to disagree. I've almost come around the sponsored tweets on my Twitter feed. But this utterly brainless, absolutely idiotic move, and for what, a few more sales? What a banal, lackluster marketing technique. Just because the book is about a woman does not justify a pink cover, a compact mirror and lipstick.

As a mental health writer I do feel that, whilst this isn't a direct attack on depression, it is ignorant  - and that's definitely a part of the bigger problem. In a world where e-book readers are set to close down bookshops, publishers can't afford to make such hideous mistakes. Some poor chick-lit fans are about to get a nasty surprise....


  1. I really want to read the Bell Jar, it's been on my list for ages, you've inspired me to order a few books on amazon! x


  2. Hi Jessica,

    I'm so glad I found you on Ideastap - your blog is full of intelligent and witty articles, and I'm definitely going to visit regularly!

    As for the awful cover art on the 50th anniversary edition of The Bell Jar - I think that it might be an elaborate ruse to coax readers of chick lit into reading a story with a bit more substance and emotional weight. A shameless marketing ploy? Yes. Woefully inappropriate? Certainly. But if it succeeds to turn thousands of women on to the exquisite writings of Plath, it might be a blessing in disguise.

    Of course, it could just be the fault of a dense marketing executive, with no idea what the book is about!
    Leanne -x-

    1. Hi Leanne,

      Thank you so much, your lovely words have made my day! I have to say I find your blog equally delightful!

      I like your thinking - let's hope it is a cunning plan to trick the masses in to becoming discerning readers. Maybe it's a reaction to 50 Shades of Grey! x