Monday, August 12, 2013

If It's What's Inside That Counts Why Did You Have to Change the Cover?


First off, I want to tell you the three books I am most excited about us getting in the kids department since I last spoke to you:
1. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (my love for it's companion book Anna and the French Kiss is pretty much legendary).
2. Journey by Aaron Becker (Shoshana called it Harold and the Purple Crayon meets The Wizard of Oz).
3. The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond (I have a thing about piranhas plus a childhood love of David Almond and a current love of illustrator Oliver Jeffers).

Now on to today's ramble.

So, I’m kind of a Harry Potter fan (says the girl with the sign of the Deathly Hallows tattooed on her wrist while wearing a tee-shirt with the Hogwarts crest on it) and in case anyone was unaware, at the end of this month Scholastic is releasing a new set of Harry Potter books. These paperback versions will feature the art of Kazu Kibuishi (of Amulet graphic novel fame). The art itself has already been released for our devouring pleasure and they’re brilliant but I’m not sure I’m happy about it.

I have really mixed feelings about the matter. Kibuishi does beautiful artwork but, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, I’m a pretty sentimental creature so the Mary GrandPre covers will always be my Harry Potter covers. I remember waiting for the release of the cover images and in some ways they are the Harry Potter books for me. The thought of those illustrations becoming harder to come by (the original covers will only be available in hardcover, though, it will take a while for them to die off in paper, I imagine) makes my heart hurt a little.

On the other hand, I also collect different editions of the books so I’m kind of excited/exasperated that there is (yet) another set for me to get. Kibuishi does such a fantastic job of capturing the feeling of the scenes that he chose and I really hope his artwork can grab a different set of people than GrandPre’s (even if Harry probably doesn’t need the help pulling in an audience).

Anyway, this got me thinking of how publishers change cover designs. This often happens from hardcover to paperback, sometimes they just get reprints or anniversary editions, and, other times, the really bad times, they’ll change them in the middle of a series, leaving us with a miss-matched set of covers and a wounded soul.

Here are some of the wonderful, questionable, and minimal cover changes that have occurred in my world.

Holly Black’s Curse Workers got a redesign just before the third book came out. Even though we’d already seen the cover of the last one it was never printed. The new covers give a completely different feel. Admittedly, they took a little while to grow on me.

From this:
To this:

Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss and it's companion novel Lola and the Boy Next Door were redone for Lola's paperback release. This means when the third novel comes out (tentatively spring 2014) the cover will match the new look of the first two. These also have a completely different look, but I can't lie, I really love them.

From this:
To this:

Sometimes cover changes happen from hardcover to paperback but aren't that major of changes. For example the softcover release of Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys has the addition of a sketch of the Raven Boys themselves in the background. This one keeps the same feel as the original and might even tie in the cover of the second better.



Other times a cover goes through a progression. Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star had one cover for hardcover, and then it looked like we might get the UK cover and then was printed with a completely different one in paperback. I'm glad we didn't get the UK one and the third is probably the best of three (even if it doesn't do justice to the creepy factor of the book) and is the one the cover of the second in the series matches.


The really weird times though, are when books get completely repackaged, title and all. I am never 100% sure why this happens. I know it has something to do with marketing but to change even the title of a book always seems a little extreme.

Like Robin Wasserman's Skinned series which came out and looked like this:

Then a few years later they came out The Cold Awakening trilogy and looked like this:

The new covers are pretty cool all lined up like that but...what? I'm not even sure what to do with the complete revamp of the series. I hope more people picked it up. It does look a little more modern?

Anyway, I could be at this all day long (Sarah Rees Brennan's Unspoken cover! It was so pretty, so unique, why did you have to change it?!).

Some of the cover changes are really well done, some I even really love. But no matter how well done they are there's always a little part of me that rebels against changing the face of something I really like...even if it's for the better.

I think part of it changes how I sell the book and what sort of audience I think will be willing to pick it up. Look at the Curse Workers covers, especially the first one, they're so different and that's going to change how I go about recommending it.

But no matter what the covers look like it's the same text inside the book and they're all really fantastic reads. You should come in and check them out.

And seriously, I have another set of Harry Potter books to buy...


No comments: