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US Book Covers vs. UK Book Covers for 2018

10 February 2019

From The Literary Hub:

Over any given year, those of us in the literary media see hundreds of books pass by. Some of their covers are great, some mediocre, some simply odd, but the ones we remember from the pack tend to be either the most unusual or the most repeated. So one of my favorite exercises after a year of covering and reading about books is to shake up my memory and see how the covers I’m familiar with looked in other countries. Since big books are often published concurrently (or at least closely together) in the US and the UK, I thought I would compare some of my favorites here, and even dare to choose which one I like better.

On that note, please bear in mind that I am an American writer and reader, and therefore US book covers are made for people like me—but also bear in mind that I may have gotten bored with the American covers, and the UK ones have that sparkly new quality that makes me like them better.

. . . .

Winner: These covers are so different in tone that it’s really hard to choose. I love the audacity of the UK cover, especially with the backward text, which is something I could easily see an over-cautious publicity department nixing. But as far as which one has the potential to make me cross the room to pick it up? I suppose that would have to be the US cover—though I’m a devoted Mendelsund fan, so take it with a grain of salt.

. . . .

Winner: Ditto above. The office was split—lots found the UK cover more interesting, complex and compelling, but I always go in for simplicity, and the purity of that juicy yellow on the US cover… Can’t beat it.

. . . .

Winner: This is an interesting one: I like all the elements of the US cover better—the hand painted lettering, the impressionistic face—but I think the overall impression of the UK cover is more striking. It looks more like a Big Serious Novel, but more importantly, it invites the viewer to pick apart all of its patchwork slices to find meaning.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub



10 Comments to “US Book Covers vs. UK Book Covers for 2018”

  1. Of these, only the last (for Ordinary People) would really work for online sales.

    On that one, it’s a matter of taste – but only the UK cover might get me to even glance at the blurb. Or not.

  2. Dang unfair I say.

    PG, you really need to let us know what type of drugs we should be taking to properly enjoy these covers!

    To be honest, none of those covers suggest that the book should be picked up/checked out …

  3. It took me far too long to realize that the word Berlin in the second one was not part of the title. At least, I think it’s not.

    I agree with WO, and none of these are to *my* taste. YMMV.

    Edited for clarity.

  4. One of the things that Teresa Nesian Haden said on her blog is that the purpose of a book cover is to be a small poster advertising the book it it part of. None of these covers tell me anything about the book. Maybe for the genre of book the buyers will understand the signfiers but I don’t catch any.
    Berlin and Mediterranean tiles and Perfume bottles ? A bollard and text too small to read or a mans face smushed into a window with more unreadable text ? What are they trying to sell me , I don’t know.

    • They are selling their artistic skill.
      Those images are *art*, not advertising.

      • And what they tell you is that the words inside are also *art*, not stories. You buy them to prove you are One of the Smart and Hip and Important People, not (heaven forbid!) to be entertained.

        • ^^^ This ^^^

          Nail, meet Tom’s hammer…

        • Any time I see ‘One of the Smart and Hip and Important People’, I have a tendency to go(run!) the other way! 😉

        • And there’s nothing wrong with that as a marketing strategy. Exclusivity IS a top flight marketing strategy, after all.

          “This book is NOT for you,” is actually a really good way to sell some books. Because people are idiots.

  5. Mystery or sf or romance covers are a much better comparison.

    OTOH, I was disappointed to see the US name change of one novel. It is based on a true crime, and Bella’s body was found in a wych elm. Why the heck change it? Just dumb.

    (Because of the anti-magic properties connected with the American plant sharing the name, it is always spelled witch hazel now, even though it started as wych hazel. But nobody uses wych elm for such purposes, as far as I know. It is rowan that is anti-magic there, or prickly holly.)

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