Galleycat has revisited the issue of when Bad Cover Art happens to Good Books, and they were kind enough to quote from the two-cents email I sent them last week.
Astute readers will note that while, here, I weaseled away from identifying my dear friend who also got cover art shafted, I wasn't so shy in my letter to the blog editor. The friend is, of course, Paul Witcover, and the book Tumbling After. I didn't realize that Paul's publisher saw the light when the book went into paperback and did another, vastly superior cover, but good on them. It was a great novel, and deserved better than it got. Alas, that so many books these days do!
At least the two books in question, World Leader Pretend and Tumbling After, were not historical novels. That's the genre that really gets shafted, IMHO, when it comes to covers. No matter how historical accurate the novel itself, if the cover art is created by an in in-house artist (as opposed to re-purposed from some museum-y painting), it's almost always horrific.
Viz.: Maritime historical novelist Joan Druett is currently running a cover art contest; the winner is the person who can pick out the most historical inaccuracies on the cover of her latest book, Deadly Shoals.
I recall the early covers of The Chronicles of Lymond by Dorothy Dunnett. They were published as cheap bodice rippers, and though the books take place in the sixteenth century, I remember one cover had a thirteen century knight on it. Another had a hero and heroine in a clinch, but the book itself had no romance plot element in it. Later, the publishers came to their senses and put elegant cover art on these, the most elegant of books; perhaps by then they realized that people who liked bodice rippers were not going to like Dame Dorothy's novels, and vice-versa.
And then--as a more modern instance--what the heck is up with the cover of The Witch of Cologne? The woman on the cover is wearing her stays (corsets) backwards! Not to mention the minus a chemise (ooow, the rubbing!), and the corset is wrong for the time period the book takes place in too.
So, Sieur Frost and Sieur Witcover--it could have been a lot worse. At least there is no farby underwear on your book covers!
NB: "farby"--a living history term for grossly inaccurate clothing or gear.