Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Even more cover changes: the good, the bad, and the ugly

It wasn't too long ago I posted about a number of ya books that went through cover changes when they were published in paperback. After that post, I noticed more and more covers I thought were worth sharing and comparing. Some of these are excellent recovers and some really don't work for me.

Let's start with a few of my favorite books published in the last couple of years.

You can read my review for this book here. While I have always loved the purple of this cover -- given the symbolism it holds for the story and for the fact purple like this stands out on a shelf -- I was never a fan of the girl cowering in the corner. The font over the girl isn't a technique I care for either, but it works for what this story is quite well.

Then it got a makeover.

Talk about a completely different feel. This cover is much more inviting and positive feeling than the original. I find it curious, though, that the girl's hair cut and color is so much different than before. I do like the font and the placement on the cover, as it's much easier on the eyes than the original. I don't love this cover or hate it, since I think it looks like a lot of other ya covers on the market, but what I do love is how well this one will fit with Freitas's forthcoming novel's cover (I love that cover so much).

You can read my review of this title here. I dig this cover. It has everything it needs to have, and the balance between text, dead space, and color is perfect. There is an immediate guy appeal factor to the cover, as well.

Grittier. Edgier. And perhaps even more boy appeal. The thing is, I don't care for it too much personally. I wouldn't pick this one up off the shelf by the cover -- the orange is a little off putting when mashed up with the all-gray images. But boys certainly will. I love how they kept the guyified heart on the cover in the paperback version, using it in the "o" rather than as the "no" symbol. The only thing I can really say is that the cover doesn't scream car destruction or environmentalist fervor, but it does scream punk edge.

Now for discussing the covers of one of my favorite series of books, The Dairy Queen series (reviewed as a whole here).

Here's the original hardcover version of the first book in the series. I like how simple and quirky it is -- we have a cow dressed with a queen's crown, and we have pink font on the cover. It doesn't tell too much about the story as a whole, except it certainly gives us a sense of the story's setting (which is a key component of the books themselves). Then they made a change for the paperback:

I like that some of the same elements are present in the paperback cover: the wide open blue sky and the simple placement and font of the title. What I don't like are the people. That girl is far too pretty to be DJ; it's not that DJ isn't a pretty girl, but she's so average. She wouldn't want to be on the cover of her own book, you see.

But this month, the book was reprinted in paperback with yet another cover:

I would believe DJ to look like this girl, I really would. But could we stereotype farm girls any more here? I hate her shirt. DJ would never wear a cow print tank top. I also really dislike the cow-inspired title. It's all too much on the cover. If the girl were to wear the awful shirt, that would be ok with a solid colored font, but this is just a little too much. Here are the rereleased covers of the other two books in the series, both of which also suffer from stereotyping-farm-girl syndrome:

I hate the skirt more than the boots. I'm not sure how much the new covers heighten appeal on this series. As much as I didn't care for people on the covers for the original paperback releases, I think those had more wide appeal than these.

I've talked briefly about the cover blurb for this book when I reviewed it here. I like this cover a lot. The green is lush and inviting, the girl has a certain sway to her in the cover that invites you to read the book, and the title placement works well. Although I don't think she's a true Retta character, it doesn't matter; we know this is a story about a girl addicted to music. This cover has everything I want as a reader and as a librarian -- this one sells itself.

But then the paperback cover kicked it up a notch!

THAT is Retta. She's got enough sass and sway to make it on her own in Nashville, and she's certainly an image of contemporary country music. I love the brick wall and the burn out font for the title. The blue boots are the perfect pop of color to keep this cover from being too one-note in its color palate.

Susan Shaw's One of the Survivors wasn't one of my favorite books, but it is one of my favorite books to book talk to middle schoolers. I love the cover: it's perfect. It captures the story simply and is something instantly recognizable for readers. The tone is set from the start. I dig how the title is located in the center of the fire alarm and that it gets smaller as it goes on.

But I really dislike the cover make over. I don't like the image of the boy -- far too young even for middle school readers. His hair is what ages him for me. I also don't like that he's a strange rust orange, since it doesn't give a strong indication from the title why he might be glowing or burning. I'm also not a fan of the blurb; a little more white space on this cover could make it feel less overwhelming. For me, this book isn't as easy a sell as the hard cover because it doesn't tell the story as well and the guy on the cover just isn't compelling.

Now on to a handful of covers for books I haven't read that have also undergone some cover changes. First up, one that Kim's reviewed.

Something about this cover works for me. It's the swirly font and the girl running through the forest in heels. She's not a damsel in distress, but she instead looks like she's having fun (it's the hair). This is the kind of book that feels like a fantasy story but not a heavy one with a lot of world building. The green on the cover and the off-centeredness of the trees just work -- from a design perspective, the cropping and adjustments made on the image are spot on and visually appealing. Nancy Werlin's talked about the cover design process here herself and it's well worth reading.

So the paperback is quite different, but it has a lot of the same elements: the fun swirly font and the green sprigs of grass. And as much as I hate the girl-on-the-cover trend, I am actually incredibly intrigued by this girl. I want to know the story. The feel for the paperback is completely different from the hardcover; where the hardcover was light and airy, this one feels a little darker. The thing is, it doesn't look dark, either. The girl has the right amount of smirk on her face to make you realize she's having a little fun and there may be a little mischief. Also: I want to learn how to do my eye make up like that.

I'm not a huge fan of this cover for a number of reasons: while the girls are interesting and modeling well, they aren't telling me much. The black on white on pink feels dated to me, though I am a fan of the font for both the title and the author's name. I'm an ampersand fan, so that totally works for me too.

Look at what a huge change the paperback cover is, though:

I don't know how I feel about this one, either. It's such a dramatic change -- the book now looks like a Sarah Dessen or Elizabeth Scott title. Since I haven't read the book, I can't judge whether or not this is a smart marketing tactic, based on content. I really like the font style and placement here, and I love how the untying of hair fits into the idea of being "undone." The thing is, the first cover looks like a story about sisters, while this one looks more like a story about a romance. As much as the hard cover looked dated to me, it stands out a little more than the paperback does.

I really like the hard cover version of Carolyn Mackler's Tangled. It fits with the trends of her other book covers: simple and eye catching. The use of white works well here, as the hearts and the author's name stand out. My only complaint is that the title does get a bit buried in the cover; the image of the hearts and her huge name pop more than the title does.

Ready for a dramatic make over?

Talk about a huge change! There is far more color and far more going on. There are two people on the cover -- is it me or do they look like they're 20-somethings, rather than teens? It's interesting that the title again seems lost on the cover, as this time it's lost a bit in the sky and butterfly images. Again, Mackler's name is quite large on the cover, though it doesn't overwhelm it. I've gone back and forth on my thoughts regarding the butterflies, but I think they're a necessary part of the cover; despite the fact I think they look a little comical, they help make this cover stand out a little more from the rest of the covers that feature a couple on the front, laying on the grass (need I remind you of The Dairy Queen?). But when I saw this cover, I was immediately reminded of the paper back cover of Mary Pearson's The Miles Between:

It's all about the superimposed monarchs.

I know this post is getting lengthy, but I have one more to share before asking you to share your input. I'm posting this one since I really love the hardcover edition of this book:

I really dig the pink key and how the color deepens its hue the lower it gets. The cursive font at the top of the key and the author's name and blurb along the teeth part of the key work, since neither are overwhelming the cover, nor are they hidden. This book stands out on the shelf, and it's a stand out when faced out, too. There's such a great story in the image -- who needs to go home? Why do they need a key? Is this the right key? I think there's a sense of hope in this cover, too.

Then it was changed:

It's so different, but it works so well. The girl's patchwork skirt against the blue-green cover pops. Though the font for the title and the super tiny font for the author's name don't work as well as they do in the hardcover, I still think they work well on the cover. The biggest difference I find in this cover, though, is the tone. Whereas the hard cover has a sense of hope, for me, this cover feels desperate and almost hopeless. It's such a different style and sense of story. Again, not having read the book, I can't comment on which fits the story more.

Your turn! What do you think of any of the changes? Any work better for you than others? Agree or disagree with my comments? Spill your thoughts in the comments.


  1. Ugh, I HATE the new Dairy Queen covers. DJ WOULD NEVER WEAR ANY OF THOSE THINGS! I don't like the original Dairy Queen hardcover either because it has nothing to do with the book and I don't think it makes the book look very appealing.

    I love the hardcover cover of TANGLED and the paperback is too generic for me (and also, too much going on).

  2. I just read Extraordinary, and neither cover matches the book at all for me. I guess the second gives a little more of the darker-side-of-fairies feel, but neither makes me feel the designer read the book.

  3. I agree with you on the Dairy Queen covers. I feel like it cheapens a book some when some generic pretty girl is used on the cover. Especially when the girl doesn't resemble the character.

  4. Have you seen the paperback cover of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks? The hardcover was, I thought, awesome. The paperback already looks dated.

  5. Great post. I'm always so curious about the changes and what effect they have on sales (and can it be measured truly b/c of the hardcover v. paperback change of price in general)?

    Here are a couple Cover Stories for the original hardcovers:


  6. I've not read many of the books shown here so I can't really speak to any of the covers outside of my own personal preferences for style. I will say that I think the cow print for Dairy Queen is cute. It doesn't fit the books so in that way I wouldn't elect to go that route but I still think they are kinda cute. :)


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