My list of books getting new paperback covers keeps growing, so I thought it was about time to share some of the ones catching my eye, either for good or not so good. This time, I even got one of the authors to give me a little bit of her mind on her book's redesign.
Dandi Daley MacKall's The Silence of Murder was the 2012 winner of the Edgar Award. I read it last year and found it unmemorable. What I do remember, though, is really digging the hardcover look, which is on the left. I love the image of the shattered bottle and the stark look of the green against the black background. It's an exceptionally simple cover but I think it's effective in not only being eye-catching, but it captures the idea of a mystery. The cover on the right is the paperback look and I think it's a huge step down from the original. The color scheme is odd, but maybe more odd is the choice to have an illustrated person on the cover. Granted, it's not a stock image, and while the boy in the hoodie with his mouth covered certainly follows what happens in the story, the cover looks very juvenile. The font, the unrefined lines, and the color scheme make it look very young -- I'm especially put off by the almost too-happy color choices of yellow and orange in the tag line ("An Unspeakable Crime. A Voiceless Defendant") and in the alternating colors in the author's name. It's a shame in the change because that original cover is so good. The paperback edition of The Silence of Murder will be released in October.
Apologies in advance for the bit of blur on the paperback cover, but I couldn't find a full-size image outside the publisher's catalog. Melissa Walker's 2011 release, Small Town Sinners, is getting a slight change in look, too. Before I dive in with my thoughts, I asked Melissa what she thought:
I loved the hardcover image on Small Town Sinners -- the girl, the apple, the field. I think it's beautiful. So when I saw the paperback cover, which zooms in on the apple, I had to take a step back. I missed the setting, to be honest. But I also know that the apple is what people talked about when they saw the cover. That heart bite, the arresting red... it definitely catches the eye, and hopefully it will bring more readers to the paperback.
I'm with her on this one. I really dug the hardcover look, which featured not just the apple, but the girl in the field in the background. There is a lot of symbolism in it, particularly noting the topic at hand in the book. The girl in white, the struggle she feels with following her faith straight and narrow or letting herself to feel around outside it highlighted in the way she shields her face. It is the apple that's maybe most memorable, though, and I don't think the paperback gets it wrong by focusing in on it. I'm glad to see the font and design of the title didn't change in the process; I dig the light cursive for "Small Town" and the contrast in the straight look of "Sinners." Note that the paperback edition of the book gets a tag line that the hardcover did not: "Does falling in love mean falling out of faith?" I'm not a huge tag line fan, and I think the downside of it here is that it suggests the book focuses more on the romance than on the struggle of faith (and family!) that Walker successfully delves into. Overall, it's not a bad change, but I wonder what sort of readership this look would bring, as opposed to the original since the change isn't that drastic. If you haven't, I highly recommend checking out the entire cover story for the hardcover look over at Melissa's blog (and if you dig cover posts and aren't reading her "cover stories" posts, get on it). The paperback edition of Small Town Sinners will be available in January.
Joshua Cohen's Leverage still makes my stomach turn when I think about it. It's a hell of a powerful book if even thinking about it looking at the covers makes me hurt. The hardcover on the left is so perfect for this book. The stark look with the arm, vein-y and steroidal, stands out. You know immediately this is going to be a painful book and there is no doubt readers know this book will appeal to male readers and to sports fans. I love the way the font looks for the title -- it's very athletic, very sports jersey looking. I love the white cover a lot and the simplicity really conveys the enormity of the story inside (I know that sounds contradictory, but I think it's true). The paperback cover, though? Also a real winner. This time, the design offers a greater insight into the fact this is a book that tackles sports head-on, and I love that it looks gritty. Like the original cover, the title design and font choice have that athletic look and I'm glad to see Cohen's name gets to be even bigger on the paperback. But what I don't care for? The tag line: "Too much pressure, too many victims -- who will take a stand?" It's so generic and while it does get at the heart of the story, it's still fairly leading. I think that's really my issue with tag lines. They force an interpretation of the story on the reader, whether intentional or not. Either way, both covers win in this change up, and I do hope that the new football-inspired look will draw more readers to this intense and gripping novel. Have I mentioned I love this one? Leverage will come out in paperback September 27.
I really liked Carol Lynch Williams's Glimpse, a gritty verse novel about sisters and family secrets. The original hard cover look on the left stands out to me because of the brightness. Even though it's a dark novel, I think the way the sun's light contrasts with the darker woods and the way it's setting instead of rising gives it that eery feel, that something isn't quite right. I love that the girl's face is all there, but it's obscured enough to show only the look of trepidation and little else. I'm a fan of the way the title is centered and how the font is so narrow, almost whisper-thin, despite being right in the middle of the cover begging for attention. I think that's fairly representative of the story itself. Of note is that the author's name is almost buried in the lower right hand corner. The paperback cover isn't bad, but for me, it's forgettable. It looks very much like the cover that her latest novel, Waiting, gets in terms of a muted palate. The two girls are looking away from the reader, and I think there is a lot said in the fact the girls aren't holding one another's hands or embracing each other. Since this is a sister story, I like that there are two girls; however, the image of one girl in the hardcover is almost more authentic to the story and more haunting. I appreciate, though, how the thin font is still there for the title in paperback and I like how Williams's name is more prominent. But for me, the winning look is still the hardcover. The paperback is far too generic for me and really reminds me a lot of the Cook redesign I talked about here. Glimpse is available in paperback now.
This is a book I keep meaning to read because it sounds like something that might be up my alley. Marcus Sedgwick's White Crow cover make over might be one of my favorites -- the hard cover on the left does absolutely nothing for me. It's creepy, but more than anything, it's just weird to me. The design, with the goth-like face floating above the too-narrow, too-cheap looking title and the random raven (or crow -- it could be a crow) just does nothing. I really dislike the font choice for the author's name too; it looks really old, and not in a good, vintage sort of way. The black-white-red look, which can often make a cover stand out, isn't effective in capturing any sort of mood for the book. But let's talk about the paperback. I love how creepy it is. The blue-grey coloring gives a much more haunting feel to it than the black and white look of the hardcover does. More than that though, it's the girl. She's got her back to us as readers, and she's sitting in a simplistic chair in the corner, surrounded with candles. Is she performing some sort of ritual? Channeling the spirits? What the heck is she doing? I love the title font choice, as it's much more haunting than the original. The paperback reminds me of so many horror film looks, and it draws me in much more because of that. I want to know what the story is here because I know there has to be one. I think it's interesting that the hardcover look features a person with dark hair and the paperback appears to have a girl with much lighter hair in it. Both feature a pretty lame tag line: "What's on the other side of death?" but despite being lame, I think the paperback cover draws readers in with those words a little bit more. For me, this is paperback all the way. I'd love that one on my shelf. White Crow will be out in paperback September 18.
I read Lindsey Leavitt's Sean Griswold's Head a while ago, and I remember it being a sweet story about a girl juggling her father's illness with figuring out who she is amid that stress. There is a little romance in the story which emerges as Peyton engages with her focus object -- the back of the head of the boy who sits in front of her. I dig the hardcover look of this book because it's not only pretty gender neutral, but because we don't see the boy's face. Again, it's a fairly simplistic cover and concept. It's appealing because, despite being simple, it's also different enough to stand out. I dig the handwriting font for the title, though I think it is very easy to overlook the author name on this cover. It's shoved in the corner in a narrow font. The paperback cover, on the right, conveys an entirely different feel than the original. This cover? Romance. This is the cover that will appeal to readers wanting a story with kissing in it (though that plays such a small role in the story that ultimately I think readers might be a little mislead). The couple, though, looks so modern and relatable, I think; these kids are freshmen in any high school right now, no question. There's a much more feminine feel to the paperback version, and on many levels, it reminds me of the newer looking Lurlene McDaniel books. I think that's because of how modern the couple appears. I am glad to see Leavitt's name gets a lot more attention on the paperback, but the title is easy to miss, I think. I wouldn't say the paperback nor the hardcover does it better. Rather, they aim at two entirely different audiences and I think readers will be drawn to one over the other, depending on what they're expecting to get from the book. Sean Griswold's Head will be out in paperback September 18.
Thoughts? Any do it better than others?