Many fans of steampunk are also fans of speculative literature from the Victorian and Edwardian periods as well. This has lead to confusing the two, with people claiming writers like Verne or Wells are steampunk, but that's like saying Beowulf is Fantasy, which it isn't. Beowulf is one of the literary progenitors of Fantasy, but as a genre, Fantasy is largely a twentieth-century phenomenon. Steampunk is a late-twentieth, early-twenty-first century phenomenon, as is clearly demonstrated in Running Press's steampunk line of classics: Steampunk Poe (anthology of short stories), Steampunk: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and the forthcoming Steampunk: H.G. Wells (War of the Worlds).
I was very pleased to see that Running Press had not tampered with the original works. These are not mash-ups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or Android Karenina. Running Press has put old wine into new wineskins, with excellent results. As steampunk becomes more mainstream, one can imagine young fans of Westerfeld or Slade wandering through the Young Adult section of their bookstore, or searching for "steampunk" on Amazon, and coming across the covers of these volumes. Hopefully, they'll disregard conventional wisdom, and judge these books by their covers, entranced by the artwork. I imagine them picking the book up, and being drawn into the story through the art. They make their purchase, with only a vague idea of the world they are about to enter. They know these are old works; they have heard their teachers or parents speak of them. They are interested in steampunk and know it shares something with these texts. The images have spoken of this pedigree. They open the book at home, sitting in their bed, and take a journey into some of the greatest stories penned in Western literature.