Fresh Looks for Classic Books: 10 Crowdsourced Cover Designs for Works in the Public Domain

Frankenstein by Elena Ospina

recovering the classics collage

Despite their age, classic works of literature like Dracula, War and Peace, The Time Machine, Crime and Punishment, and Madame Bovary are just as relevant to life today as they were to life when they were originally published. Luckily for us, when a book’s intellectual property rights expire they fall into the public domain. We celebrate their work with unlimited access to these great novels. In an effort to help keep these books alive, a project called Recovering the Classics is bringing fresh looks to some of the greatest works of literature.

Recovering The Classics is a crowdsourced collection of original covers for 50 classics in the public domain. A partnership between the Creative Action Network, DailyLit, and the Harvard Book Store, the project aims to make the classics available to the public in a new way while allowing artists and the public to give something in return for receiving these books for free. So far covers by 100 artists are available on the project’s website, ranging from retro takes on Anna Karenina and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to minimalist versions of Flatland and The Three Musketeers. The variety of the submissions is a testament to the myriad of ways classic works can be interpreted today.

Here’s are some of my favorite covers submitted to Recovering the Classics:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Ioannis Fetanis

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Illustration by Ioannis Fetanis
Dracula by Aurora Cacciapuoti

Dracula – Illustration by Aurora Cacciapuoti
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Kjell-Roger Ringstad

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Illustration by KjellRoger Ringstad
Frankenstein by Elena Ospina

Frankenstein – Illustration by Elena Ospina
The Three Musketeers by Ioannis Fetanis

Three Musketeers – Illustration by Ioannis Fetanis
Anna Karenina by Douglas Thomson

Anna Karenina – Illustration by Douglas Thomson
Anna Karenina by Victoria Fernandez

Anna Karenina – Illustration by Victoria Fernandez
Flatland by Livia Veneziano

Flatland – Illustration by Livia Veneziano
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Roberlan Borges

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Illustration by Roberlan Borges
Moby Dick by E. Michelle Peterson

Moby-Dick – Illustration by E Michelle Peterson
Each one of Recovering the Classics’ fresh covers are available for sale as 11″ by 17″ prints, part of .epub ebooks, and made-to-order, printed paperbacks from the Harvard Bookstore. Cover submissions are still being accepted. If you’re interested in purchasing or submitting a cover, visit Recovering the Classics website.

What are some of your favorite covers from Recovering the Classics? Share with us in the comments section!

Lauren Mobertz

By Lauren Mobertz

Lauren is the former managing editor for DashBurst. One part geek, one part urban nomad, she is constantly scouting for the latest tech and world news. In the evenings you'll find Lauren running in strange places or attempting to dance salsa.


  1. As a graphic designer, these are… not right. First, not a single one fits the novels. They are all modern, hipster-ish takes on design. Second, the only one that stands alone (apart from the novel) as a good design is the Three Musketeers. It could be used for some sort of modern indie film, but only if direct by Quentin Tarantino. That was a joke.

    But really, these cover designs say very incorrect things about the novels. A design to promote an entity should be stemmed from the essence of the entity, not some random indie folk band-inspired nonsense.

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