The public domain e-book publisher that challenges our perceptions of just what appropriate cover art for a classic novel might be.
In the world of public domain publishing, competition is fierce and it’s hard to stand out from the dozens of rival publishers that are all producing their own copies of exactly the same books. It’s perhaps even more difficult in the world of e-books, where these long-out-of-copyright novels are often available to read for free via various outlets. To persuade people to pay money for your edition – be it physical or digital – you need to make it stand out from the pack.
Few have done this more dramatically than the mysterious Sheba Blake Publishing, which has produced hundreds of e-book titles over the last few years. To read their mission statement, you’d imagine that they are serious connoisseurs of classic literature, determined to produce the finest editions possible:
As part of our mission to publish great works of literary fiction and nonfiction, Sheba Blake Publishing has begun its publishing empire with some of the most popular and beloved classic eBooks and Paperbacks. We are extremely dedicated to bringing to the forefront the amazing works of long dead and truly talented authors. Sheba Blake Publishing has created its collection of numerous classic eBooks and Paperbacks, specifically dedicated to bringing back in eBook and Paperback form works of worthy authors. The process to convert and distribute our eBook and Paperback titles can be quite time consuming, but the work is beyond worth the effort, with us having some of the most colorful and delightful covers you have seen in a while. Sheba Blake Publishing is like our second child, it’s very dear to us and we want more than anything to see it succeed and send it off into the world like the proud mama’s we are! Sheba Blake Publishing is slowly becoming a beautiful reality to all readers. We greatly appreciate ANY and ALL support that has been given to us, and we love all of those dreaming readers who continue to purchase our titles and help us grow.
You might want to keep in mind that bit about “colorful and delightful covers” as we continue. Certainly, the Sheba Blake collection looks striking – and to be fair, many of their books have a uniform cover style that is minimalist and aesthetically pleasing. Compared to some of the PD titles out there, where the cover is an afterthought at best, some effort has clearly gone into these. Others have images – culled from who knows where – that seem vaguely appropriate to the story at hand. However, Sheba Blake has become infamous thanks to a collection of rather eccentric cover choices that, while not necessarily awful in terms of imagery, are so far removed from the actual novel that it begs the question: what were they thinking?
Had the whole Sheba Blake collection been a series of random covers, it would make more sense. But someone seems to actually be designing these and picking the images. Are they seeing something in these classic works that the rest of us are missing? Or are they deliberately trying to provoke articles like this as a cynical publicity stunt?
We’d like to ask, but oddly the Sheba Blake website simply links to an unfinished Shopify page, which doesn’t suggest that they really do know what they are doing. Perhaps the more appropriate and aesthetically-pleasing books are the mistakes – I guess that if you assign random covers to enough books then you are going to occasionally get it right.
As ever, we encourage readers who might know more to get in touch. And if you’ve actually paid money for a Sheba Blake e-book, let us know if the text is intact – or if someone has been tweaking it. Given that the Amazon listings credit Sheba Blake as co-author on all these books, anything is possible.