*Never* judge a book by its cover

The art of book design is not exact, but apparently it’s repeatable. Reusable Book Covers in Historical Novels: A Gallery is an unassuming blog featuring a surprisingly large collection of books with identical images on their covers.

The blog’s extensive assortment of examples proves that what may have felt like a case of Barnes and Nobel déjà vu was probably the effect of a subtle recycling: Paintings and photographs reappear (on as many as eight different covers), each time cropped, reversed, rotated and re-colored to suit a particular book. The subject of Victorian painter Frank Dicksee’s Leila becomes Queen Esther, a Turkish prostitute, a sultan’s wife and the mascot for a history of love. The sleeping woman in Fredrick Leighton’s Flaming June is also the dozing daughter of a sultan, and of a piano man. Perhaps the only fair way to judge a cover is by its book.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.