I read a lot of garbage - I fully admit it. However, I will also tell you I've read more than my share of classics. I can appreciate both for what they are. Without the classics, your mind lacks any meaningful stimuli; your worldview shrinks. Nothing profound is going to come out of an el cheapo paperback thriller (although, there is something to be said for reading just for entertainment's sake).
Don't worry, I won't launch into a long diatribe about the value of reading classical literature. You got plenty of that from your bromidic 10th grade English teacher, so I'll spare you. But the thought occurred to me that paperbacks used to use all sorts of compelling imagery to lure their readers in.... yet the covers of the classics are often dull and lifeless. While the action and espionage paperbacks featured ninjas and naked chicks to get their books off the shelf, the covers of classics are often sad little pastoral scenes or a boring photograph/painting of the author. What if we used the same tactics for the Great Books?
Of course, the ship has sailed. It's much too late to take this tactic now. But what if they had employed it back when these sorts of covers really did move people to buy them? Let's have a look at a few more examples of what could have been bait to lure the ignorant masses to the classics.
Sure, the covers are completely dishonest. But what else is new? It's a time honored tradition among movie posters and paperback covers to entice consumers; whether it bears any real resemblance to the product itself is not even an afterthought.
Check out a few more samples from The Retrospace Library of World Literature.