I told someone recently I keep a list of books that have had cover changes when they've gone from their initial hardcover printings. Although there have been a number of changes in just the last three years I've been blogging, there seems to be an even greater number of cover swaps in the last year or so. Even more interesting to me than the cover changes are the pair of books here that got both cover changes and title changes.
Eileen Cook's Unraveling Isobel (reviewed here by Kim) is getting a cover change that I'm a little bit torn about. I think the hardcover stands out quite a bit: the color is bright and vibrant, and I like the use of the leafy swirls from the font through the entire image. The cover fits the story quite well, though I find the Photoshopping of the model's crotch area to be really disturbing (you can't see it so well in the digital images but it's visible in the physical copies). This is ultimately a story about mental illness, and I feel like the cover subtly hints at this.
However, one of the things I remember about this book was that there is a notable romance. While it didn't necessarily work for me, I noted that that would be the sell for many teen readers. The paperback cover knocks it out of the park then, in terms of making it clear there is romance in Cook's novel. Maybe what I find most interesting, though, is the treatment of title and author in the switch from the hard to paper covers: in the hardcover, the title takes up much more space than the author's name, whereas in the paperback, the author's name has much more prominence than the title. In fact, the title almost gets a little lost in the image itself. And although the image is fairly generic, it fits the story.
I don't know if one cover is better than the other; rather, they seem to appeal to two entirely different readerships. The hardcover seems to appeal to those looking for a non-romantic thriller (which is how the flap copy reads, despite a blurb that calls the book sexy) and the paperback seems to appeal to those looking for a story with romance. The paperback edition of Unraveling Isobel will be available in October.
I read John Cusick's Girl Parts a couple of years ago and was pretty put off by the cover. It's a story about a boy who suffers from a mental illness whose parents choose to purchase him a companion bot in order to help him deal with the challenges arising from his illness. The companion doll, however, happens to fall for a different boy completely. So while the cover makes sense, there are a couple of problems: first, it's unabashedly packaging a girl for consumption and the title doesn't help a whole lot, either. Neither do the stickers on her body that call her "fragile." Obviously, these make sense because the story is about a companion bot, but the use of a live model rubs me all sorts of wrong. The other problem I have with this cover is that, while this book has strong appeal for male readers, the cover won't sell it to them. It's a pretty girl.
The paperback, though, does this book a huge favor while still getting to what the story's about. The girl is finally gone, and instead, we only have the image of bubble wrap. It's entirely neutral, which gives it wide reader appeal. The title font is the same as the hardcover, and it works because it gets at the robotic element to the story. One of the big additions to the paperback cover is the tag line, which reads "Can a custom-made girl-bot fill a boy's needs?" Rather than use the girl on the cover, the tag line does an effective (and much less wince-inducing) job of showing what the book is about. I like this rendition of the cover much better, even if the "fragile" sticker still rubs me wrong -- it makes sense, of course, but any time fragile is applied to a book about a girl without agency, I can't help myself. Girl Parts is available in paperback now.
Technically, this is a paperback to paperback cover change, rather than a hardcover to paperback switch. You can check out the hardcover edition here (and I'll say I much prefer both versions of the paperback to the hardcover which bothers me not because it's risque but because it's so blank and empty). Although I haven't read Doing It, I'm pretty familiar with the content of the book, and I think that the original paperback cover on the left hits all the right notes for me. It is awkward. I love that we only get to see the guy and the girl from the waist down, and I think so much it said in the way the guy's hand lays on the girl's lap. I also think there's a lot implied in the way the guy and the girl have their legs in the image. The only thing I don't care a lot for in the original paperback cover is that it's a little dark. The colors bleed together a bit: the people blend into the furniture which blends into the background, too. It's just the title and author that stand out because of their bright color and center-stage placement.
The new paperback -- available now -- definitely gets rid of the color blending issue. This cover is bright. Despite being remarkably similar to the original paperback cover, the changes are interesting ones. The floor isn't carpet anymore and the couch isn't floral but an orange-red. Maybe most noteworthy, though, is that the girl in the image is no longer wearing anything on her legs. They're bare, and the boy is no longer placing his hand tentatively on her thigh; he's running it along her leg. His foot is also rubbing against hers. There's an interesting contrast in the body language between the new paperback and the original, in that the tentativeness and awkwardness of the first seems to have disappeared in the second. Instead, it's been replaced with more comfort in the situation, at least in the guy's positioning. The girl in the image still has a hesitance in her body language. I like how the title and author name are treated in this cover, and I think it's interesting they've added a tag line to the newer version: "Everyone's thinking about it, but are they . . ."
I can't say I prefer one of the paperback covers better than the other, but I wish I could take elements of the first and combine them with elements of the second to make the perfect version of this cover. I'd love to take the body language of the first and mash it up with the setting of the second.
I read Mary Jane Beaufrand's book as The River a couple of years ago, and the mystery woven within the frame of the story of la llorona kept me hooked. It's also a book I've talked to teens and they've been drawn to it for the same reasons. For me, the original cover and original title of the book work. I love how there's so little to it: it's a few wisps of hair, an image of the water, and the tag line that implies the story is a mystery: "What dark secrets does the river hold?" The colors in the cover work, too. I love the light/dark juxtaposition, as it further alludes to the mystery. What doesn't work for me is a little thing, and that's the blurry title font and treatment (it's less noticeable digitally). Worth noting is that the title is much bigger than the author's name, which is tiny and shoved in the bottom corner of the cover. It's a little lost. If there's something worth noting about the original cover, though, it's that it looks much more like an adult novel than a YA novel.
This book not only gets a new look in paperback, it gets an entirely new title: Dark River. While this doesn't sound like a huge change, it is a pretty big one. Even bigger, I think, than the image on the cover being swapped. I always think about cover changes as a librarian, and I can't help but wonder if the title change will lead to a lot of confusion. I foresee some duplicate purchasing of this book, and I foresee frustration about cataloging in the event of duplicate purchases. That said, I think the new title is a better fit for the story and a better fit for the YA market. The image on the cover of the girl underwater explains it perfectly. I think it's interesting to note that the title treatment is stronger than in the original hardcover, and the author's name is much bigger and bolder, right at the top of the book, rather than hidden in the corner. Note, too, the change in the tagline for the story: "What deadly secrets does the river hold?" As a whole, this cover looks much more than a traditional mystery to me than the original. Dark River is available now as a paperback.
I read and raved about Janet Ruth Young's The Babysitter Murders last year. I don't think the book got a whole lot of attention, which is part of why I suspect this one is getting a major makeover. The original cover stands out to me because it is so different from most other YA books. The image is really straightforward and there's little going on in the background. The title is allowed to stand out, and the title sort of indicates what's going on in the image (the babysitter is there with her charge). What's sort of uncomfortable about the cover is that this happy picture is then set against the notion of this book being about murder. The font for the title and for the author are also bright and happy. It's a bizarre contrast, but more than that, the cover looks very much like an adult book cover to me. There's nothing about it that seems like it would appeal to teens. Even though it stands out, I don't know if it does so in a way that would reach teens.
Young's book is not only getting a new cover in paperback, it's getting an entirely new title: Things I Shouldn't Think (available in November). Let me start with the easy part, which is the new cover itself. I don't think it does any favors for the book at all. It's the same generic girl face with her hair over her eye and nose that seems to be on so many paperback covers, and her expression tells us nothing. In the first cover, the happy image is uncomfortable because of the title, but that uncomfortable feeling works because that's what the story is ultimately aiming to do to the reader. This one misses so many marks and does little for the book since it looks like everything else out there. As for the title change, though, I am a huge fan. Things I Shouldn't Think gets right to the heart of the story, which is about a girl struggling with the "C" side of having OCD. What she thinks is what she shouldn't be thinking. The Babysitter Murders is a tiny bit misleading and I would go so far as to say potentially a spoiler in and of itself. But as much as I like the title change, I dislike the treatment on the cover. I don't like that it's not capitalized nor that it's on a strip of black above the girl's face. And like the original cover, it's interesting to note that the author name is tiny, at the bottom, and hard to spot.
Something else worth mentioning about this book's change is the flap copy. Here's the original, and here's the updated version. The first talks around the OCD, while the second hits it head on and uses it as a selling point. I think the second does the book a huge favor in that hitting the mental illness aspect of the book will sell it to readers (which is good, since the new cover is doing no favors). I'm not sure either of these covers are getting the book to the right readers, but I do think the new title is an improvement. Thanks to Courtney for pointing this change out to me.
What are your thoughts? Any of these covers doing it better as a paperback than in a hardcover? What about the title makeovers?