One of my favorite things to look at in publisher catalogs each season are the titles being released in paperback and the changes that the covers may have undergone in the process. Sometimes it's a huge change. Other times, it's really subtle. Sometimes, it nails the story better than the original or highlights a different aspect of the story than the hardcover image did. And other times, it's way off the mark.
In this edition of hardcover to paperback, most of the titles I wanted to talk about didn't have huge changes. Many maintained a look they'd had in hardcover with slight tweaks (though one of the covers below got an entirely new look). None of these are bad changes, but some of them make me wonder what the change intends to do for the book in terms of selling it. If it's not that different from the original, it makes me wonder why the change happened at all.
Let's start with the big change.
The hardcover edition of Tiffany Schmidt's Send Me a Sign is graphic and text driven -- it plays into the idea of superstitions, which is a big element of the book. Mia, the main character, believes in signs. To me, the cover has a small element of sadness to it. While it's bright, when you know what the book is about, the cover may suggest that there's not necessarily a happy ending to the story. It's a book about a girl diagnosed with cancer, and the white dandelion with its petals floating away may suggest death more than it does life. In many ways, the cover doesn't tell you a whole lot about the story, though I think it does look like a YA novel. The swirly font may play into that a little bit. Note that there is a blurb.
The paperback cover of Send Me a Sign is something completely different. While anchored by one image of a boy and a girl, rather than font and a non-person image, it doesn't do away with the original design completely. The font for the title is still swirly, and there is an homage to the signs and superstitions element to the plot with the four-leaf clover as the dot in the "i" for sign. Although I think the image itself isn't entirely memorable -- the couple looks like a couple that graces many a YA cover -- what I love is that this cover speaks a lot more to both the content of the book and the readership of the book. There is a big romantic element to the story, and this image drives that message much more than the hardcover does. Teen readers who see this cover will know much more readily whether this is a book they want to read or not because it looks like many other books featuring similarly appealing story lines.
I happen to like both of the covers for this one. The first because it's different from a lot of YA covers out there, and the second because it speaks better to the story.
Send Me a Sign will be available in paperback on January 14, 2014.
Jennifer McGowan's Maid of Secrets is getting one of those makeovers I'm not sure I completely understand. On the left is the original hardcover. It's not necessarily the kind of cover that stands out, but it also speaks to the content of the book. The girl has a great look on her face, including a fierceness in her eyes with just enough of a smile that it's not a scary look. I love the dagger in her hands, since it offers up a little bit of an idea of the time frame of the story and even a little bit about what may be at stake. The font for the title isn't necessarily memorable, but it works with the image to allow that image to stand out. And note that there is a blurb on the cover -- a simple "Winning," from Robin LaFevers, who is probably the perfect name to have gracing the cover of a book like this with a blurb. In many ways, I'd say the look of this particular cover suggests it's a worthwhile read alike to LeFevers's own series. I'm a big fan of cover alikes, since it does a lot of service to readers who want a book like one they've read before but don't necessarily want to ask for help. It's passive and easy.
The paperback look of the cover isn't bad, but it also doesn't do anything different. Sure, there are now three girls instead of a single one. What's weird is that this cover seems to remove a lot of the power that the hardcover had, making it almost more of a story about the three girls than about power or intrigue. The girl in the middle is having her hair brushed, and the focus of the image is no longer on the expression on one girl's face -- it's instead on the dresses the three girls have. I think in many ways there is a removal of power in this cover. There is still a dagger in the girl on the right's hand, but look at how it's much more an accessory to her dress than it is a tool she plans on using. The new cover changes up the title font, and I quite like it, though I think there is a lot more artistry at play with it than there is necessarily power. There's no longer a blurb on the cover, as it's been replaced with a note that this book is the first in a series -- I actually find that helpful to be on the cover, since it will help readers know there are other books to come.
That said, will readers think that the paperback version of Maid of Secrets may appeal to readers who liked Robin LaFevers's series? I'm not entirely sure. I don't think they'll be turned off by it, but I think they may not make the connection as readily. While I like both covers, they convey much different things, and I think the hardcover edges out the paperback for me.
The paperback edition of McGowan's book will be available June 24, 2014.
The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban fascinates me from a cover perspective. It's not entirely memorable, but it's also not entirely forgettable either. There are a lot of elements in the cover that make it both: it's a guy running away from something in a wooded area. There's snow on the ground and snow falling. I feel like this describes a ton of covers, but I also feel like it describes this cover. I find the font for the title distracting and hard to read because it's been made to look blurry and jagged. Since it's white, that only adds to the challenge of not feeling like my eyes struggle to focus on it (basic design principles suggest that white font on a dark background is simply harder to read, no matter what). Note that the blurb for this book comes from an adult fiction author -- Jennifer Weiner. That says a lot to me, too, particularly that this book may be aiming to be a crossover hit, as well as a book that is trying to be on trend with blurbs from well-known, New York Times Bestselling adult authors (see John Green's blurb of The Fault in Our Stars from Jodi Picoult). The cover is being packaged in such a way that it looks like the kind of book that will receive award consideration or recognition. It's an iconic-like cover with a blurb from someone well-known in the business, even beyond the YA world. This is not a bad cover.
But that paperback. Let's talk about a cover that is meant for adults and not teens.
The cover for the paperback looks like a movie poster, and not in a good way. There is far too much going on in terms of design, with the original boy running through the woods layered on top of a girl who is looking away with a sadness in her eyes. I have a hard time believing the model looks like a teenager, too -- she looks like a twenty-something, if not even older than that. But back to the boy running through the woods layer. I'm curious why it is he's suddenly blurry now, too? And why did they choose to make the title font even more blurry than they were in the original hardcover look? I think they did a service in not making the author font blurry and also by making it not white, though that might be the strongest aspect of this cover. Also note that the blurb from Weiner was relocated to a position that makes it more prominent -- upper right-hand corner. The Tragedy Paper's paperback cover looks like an adult trade paperback much more than it does a YA paperback. It loses an iconic YA look to it with the layering and further blurring of font, though I think that this book looks like one more adults would pick up than the one on the left.
That said, I am not a fan. I prefer the hardcover look of this one without question. The Tragedy Paper will be available in paperback on February 11, 2014.
Here is a makeover I don't necessarily understand but I really, really like. Phoebe North's Starglass is getting a new look in paperback. On the left is the original hardcover, and I think it's a pretty good cover. I love the way the girl looks; even though her back is to the reader, we know there's something she wants and she's determined to go after it. It's entirely in her body language, her stance, and even the wind in her hair doesn't make her look like she's anything less than ready to conquer the challenge ahead of her (because what she wants is ahead of her there). I love that she is dressed like a teenager, too -- she's wearing a longer coat and pants. I think the font for the title is fun and fitting, and you really get a nice sense of the book's genre from the cover as a while. It's science fiction. Likewise, I think the violet coloring of the cover as a whole helps it stand out on the shelves. Few covers are that color, and fewer still within science fiction are that color. The Veronica Roth blurb running along the top only helps make a case for readers to pick up the book.
On the right is the newly designed paperback of Starglass, and I really like this one, too. I may even like it a little bit more than the hardcover. In many ways, it looks like Beth Revis's series, and I think the redesign tells readers that if they liked Revis's book, they'll probably want to give North's a shot. The new cover makes it even more obvious this book is science fiction, but it's not off-putting in any way. This is a girl looking down on Earth, and it's clear from her body language that she, too, is determined to take advantage of her future (but maybe in this case, without forgetting the place where she may have came from). Again, I love the choice in how the model is styled here, too: she's wearing pants and a killer pair of boots. Where I really liked the font for the title and author name on the hardcover, I love it on the paperback. There's something about the clear glass look that really ties this cover all together. Again, the Roth quote is included, though I do find it interesting that Roth's name is larger and much more obvious than North's name on the cover.
While both covers do it really well, I prefer the paperback just a tiny bit more.
What I really appreciate about this particular cover makeover, though, is that the second book in the series, Starbreak, fits with either the hardcover or the paperback look:
Readers and librarians who purchased the hardcover of Starglass don't have to worry about the second book in the series not looking like the first one at all. That is a huge reader service in the face of a redesign and one that as a librarian, I appreciate so much. It makes it clearer that these books belong together.
The paperback of Phoebe North's Starglass will be available July 15, 2014.
I'm going to put this redesign of Sarah Skilton's Bruised into the category of not understanding the intentions behind the redesign. On the left is the original cover, which is pretty excellent. I love the broken trophy of a tae kwon do girl -- it's a perfect representation of the story inside the book. The title font is nicely done, and I feel like the little splatters of blood hovering above the "i" tie into the reason why the tae kwon do girl is broken so well. The cover is fairly gender neutral, aside from the pony tail on the trophy, and it conveys the entirety of the story with very little. There is a tag line which reads "She failed to save his life. How will she live her own?" Again, a nice way to tie the cover together and tie it all right back to the story. Note that the author's name is large and across the bottom, and there are no blurbs on the front cover (something that carries over to the paperback, as well, but it's noteworthy because of how rare that seems to be).
The paperback redesign of Bruised is a head scratcher for me. It's essentially the same cover, but with the title made to be a lot bigger and in a different style and stretched diagonally across the cover, rather than centered through the middle. It's a nice font, but it's lacking the sort of tie-in to the story that the original has with the blood splatters. The author's name is now stacked on top of the title, and it's been made smaller, but brighter. I think it might be easier to read, but it's not as easy to find. As far as the image itself, we still have the broken trophy but it is not easy to identify as a broken trophy. The pieces are spread too far apart, and without studying it or having reference to what the original cover was, it's not entirely clear what the image it supposed to be. It definitely loses its identity as a tae kwon do trophy, since there aren't even legs in the shattered remains.
I can't comment on the color change from bright blue to a deep blue, since I think both work fine and both are not the memorable aspect of the cover. For me, hands down, the hardcover is the winner here.
Sarah Skilton's Bruised will be available in paperback on April 15, 2014.
What do you think? Which covers in these pairs do you prefer? Have you seen any other noteworthy hardcover to paperback changes lately? I keep a list of changes when I see them because I love thinking about the whats and whys of redesign.