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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

When Getty Images Attack

I was walking the stacks yesterday, minding my own business, when this book catches my eye:


I stare at it for a moment. It looks remarkably familiar for some reason, though I know I’ve never seen it before.  Then it hits me:


Barbara O’Connor fan that I am, I remember really adoring this cover when the book came out.  Check out my review if you don’t believe me. But in terms of the cover here’s what I waxed eloquent upon at the time:

Bravo. Bravo, Farrar, Straus & Giroux. You’ve managed to create the most adorable cover featuring a canine since last year’s Sheep by Valerie Hobbs. This is almost too perfect in execution. Nitpickers might point out that this scene never happens in the book, but I say pah. Pah, I say! First of all, this dog looks exactly like the one in the book, down to the black circle around one eye. He’s the right size and his little body is just adorable. I love the use of yellow as a background as well. It really allows the book to pop. Then there are the aesthetics to consider. The black and white of the dog match the black and the white of the spine. This book is one of those rare covers that will lure in an equal amount of boys AND girls. It’s a magic combination, and I just want to credit jacket designer Barbara Grzeslo for a bang-up job. Getty Images strikes again. THIS is a cover.

Keyword: Getty Images.  Because, of course, just because an image appears on one book that doesn’t mean it won’t appear on another.

Now I distinctly remember this coming up when Twilight became a huge hit.  The image of the hands holding the apple was striking, but I feel like it appeared on other books prior to Twilight‘s publication.  Yet a search of the internet today yields nothing.  Am I making this up?  Possibly, but I feel like this was my first real understanding of how Getty Images would work.

Even more recently, it came up when I saw adult author (and friend of my mom) Bonnie Jo Campbell’s latest novel:


A great image.  Just not the first time the picture has been used:


Or even the second time:


A great image remains a great image, no matter how it’s used.  There’s no shame in sharing your book jacket’s photo with other books.  It just behooves reviewers like myself to take every great Getty Image cover with a grain of salt.

By the way, if we’re talking about my favorite incident involving a stock image, then it’s a story that appeared in Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, which I co-wrote with Julie Danielson and Peter Sieruta.  The following adult novel was published with a strangely famous author on its cover:


Who’s the writer playing the accordion?  How did he get on the cover of a book by a Bosnian novelist in the first place (because I assure you, he was completely unaware of the book until it was brought to his attention)?  For the answer to that, I highly recommend that you come by my talk on October 7th at National Louis University in Skokie, IL.  I’ll tell all!  Or, failing that, you can buy Wild Things.  Honestly, I’m easy either way.

Shameless self-promotion, out!

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I could swear I also remember the Twilight cover thing, but apparently that picture was taken specifically for that book: Maybe it was just similar covers with completely different images? Or a different book entirely?

  2. Getty Images is just a licensing agent. It is up to the Publishers who create the cover to did deep and be different. You would be surprised how often they recycle imagery over and over again for different books. No imagination anymore.