I love pretty books. I know some people, mostly people who are not book bloggers, who are always going on about how much better paperbacks are. Especially mass market backs because they are cheaper and they take up less space. But no. This is just not my thing. I love to own an entire series in hardcover all matching and beautiful on my shelves. I love to be able to look at a cover and sigh because it is just so pretty.
And if I am collecting a series of books, I especially love it if those covers match. And what I despise most in the world1 is when publishers decide to change the look of series midway through it’s publication.
Now, I can understand why they do this. Covers play an important part at luring people in. Even seasoned readers. And I absolutely understand them wanting to get the look of a series just right to attract all the different groups of people they want to attract. I will read a book’s description, be totally excited and then be less excited when I see it has a cover I don’t like. This is two fold.
One, I feel I know the business enough to recognize a book that has had money and attention put into it’s design. If it hasn’t had those things, then I feel that the publisher isn’t excited for the book. And if they aren’t excited, why should I be?
And two, I like collecting books. And I prefer them to look pretty on my shelves.
Of course, tastes change over the years and books go through styles and fads the same way clothes do so it’s almost impossible to say what definitely works as a cover and what definitely doesn’t. But there are two big problems I have with book covers.
Changing covers in the middle of a series, as previously mentioned. And the fact that it always seems to be covers that I love getting changed and not covers that I don’t like at all.
When Penguin first changed the Across the Universe (by Beth Revis) cover I loved what they did. They left the hardcovers matching, and all pretty with stars and silhouettes of people and very space opera looking. But they had a different cover on the paper back which looked very sci-fi thriller and much more appealing to males. And I thought, oh yes! This is how it should always be done. Leave the hard covers matching, and create different paperbacks. However now, they’ve changed the entire series again and this time the hard cover of third book will not match. It will not match at all. And, even worse, the new cover is not eye grabbing at all. The first two designs the series had clearly depicted two different aspects of the story. One, the long journey through space with people trying to hold on to their humanity. And two, the mystery/thriller aspect of being trapped on a spaceship with a murderer.
This new design for the series communicates nothing. It just shows off the titles. In fact the one for Across the Universe looks like it takes place in the Arctic.
They had the perfect solution, and then they decided against it. I was so disappointed when I saw the cover for Shades of Earth.
And then, the same publisher, gives a book this cover:
Now, to be fair, this book isn’t a series. And I do like that this cover is different. It stands out at the book store. At the same time, there’s just something that puts me off about it. Maybe it’s just in comparison with current trends but I find that this cover resembles something self-published. Not to say that it’s a bad cover, but that it doesn’t look like a cover a big publisher would give a YA book in today’s market.
Most other bloggers I’ve talked to about this cover hate it. I can remember showing my ARC of this book to someone and they literally cringed. But the paperback gets the same cover.They’re not even going to try to lure a different group of people in.
Again, to me this feels as if it is because it is not a front list book and therefore they don’t want to put the money into it that designing a new cover would cost. Which turns me off the book even more.2
One of my favourite book series ever is the Immortal Beloved series by Cate Tiernan. But, I’m not gonna lie, I do not like any of covers. The original design was weird. I couldn’t make out what it was and there was a weird circular design and I wouldn’t have bought the book at all if it hadn’t had Cate Tiernan’s name on it. Which is sad because I love these books and I hate the idea that the cover turned people off starting it.
When they decided to redesign the covers I was very excited. And I do like the new covers much better but there are rather generic. They say nothing about the story or the characters. They could be on almost any book with a female main character.
What I love to see on a cover is something eye catching, something that relates to the story and something that I can proudly display on my bookshelves in the hopes that someone will ask about it. One of my favourite covers from the past year is Cinder by Marissa Meyer. With a title like Cinder, and the font that they feature that title in, you know it’s going to be fairy tale-ish. But with the disappearing outline of the metal bones in the leg and the red shoe that pops out from the deep blue3 background.
I had this one faceout on my shelves and my Aunt, who despises fantasy and science fiction only slightly less than she despises young adult fiction, asked about and seemed intrigued. …Until I explained that it was sci-fi, fairy tale YA story. Then she backed off immediately.
But it did grab her attention amongst the hundreds of other books on the shelves.
I really wish I had an inside look at how the cover process happens. Who decides what books get what covers and what books need new covers. And what do publishers think attract readers and why? Are the concerend about anything else when designing a cover?
And don’t even get me started on Barnes and Noble input.
The one thing I can say for sure about covers is that I am so over random girls in random dresses that have nothing to do with the story. Most of these girls never even wear a dress in the story.
What are some of your favourite book covers? What do you want to see more or less of in book covers? What cover changes have made you the most angry?
- I’m probably exaggerating a bit there
- I actually really enjoyed this book.
- It’s best if we don’t talk about what shade of blue it is. Shades of blue are taboo in my family