Tuesday 5 April 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

This weeks top ten is book covers we would like to redesign. I actually found this very difficult despite the many rants I have had with friends over book covers. I am a firm believer that publishers should hire a bookseller or two to teach them that covers sell books as much as names do. Anyway, before I give you my list I'd like to add that it is rare for an author to get any say in their cover desing unless of course they are self published. I actually only know of one and he was already famous for being an artist before he became published. Maybe why he was allowed to insist he did the art work for his own covers.

1. New York by Edward Rutherfurd. I love the book but hate the cover. A New York skyline makes sense considering the subject. It also doesn't look too bad from the photo. However, how many of us can safely say they have seen much more inspiring images of the New York? Plus what this photo doesn't tell you that it is cheaply made. Designed for a mass market book. All his books are mass market and I have no idea why. Actually, I do. They are rather large and so it's obviously cheaper to have them bound this way. Whilst it doesn't spoil my enjoyment of the book itself it makes me sad as I wonder how many people passed it by like I almost did.

2. Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. As a rule I don't mind children's covers. A lot of them are starting to look the same thanks to popularisation of certain themes. A few years ago that may have bothered me but I actually only read them now when my friend encourages (insists) that I do. I picked this one up because of the film (which I haven't seen) and then it took me months to get round to reading it. I loved the book and I am now reluctant to see the film. I digress, I don't hate the cover design itself. I don't love it either. It is though an example of one of those glossy books that peal easily. This irritates me. Book shops tend to have insist that the people making their promotional stickers use and adhesive that isn't going to damage the books. With this type of glossy book it makes no difference. The gloss will come away with the sticker and you are left with a matt patch in one corner. It's frustrating because there are glossy covers out there that don't do it.

3. Wicked by Gregory Maguire. This is the cover I have and I love it. I think most people who read it after the musical came out will be more familiar with the green and black cover design. Now I don't hate the new one. I just prefer this one. I love the simplicity of it and the fact that the illustration looks like it was done with a printing block. I hate it when a publisher takes a perfectly lovely cover and changes it to suit the growing popularity of the title. Incidentally, most of these books had similar covers originally. I just think this looks more hand crafted.

4. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. I know I said that I usually don't mind children's covers yet I have another one here. Actually, once again I don't completely dislike this cover. I just have cover envy. This is one of those rare occasions that I prefer the US edition over the UK. I follow Westerfeld on twitter and so saw the cover months before it was released. You have no idea how disappointed I was when I saw this one. Thankfully, I was going on holiday to the US that year and so it went to the top of my book buying list. So I am now a proud owner of the edition that I wanted in the first place. Had I not been on that holiday I know I could have ordered it online but not sure I would have bothered. Oh, and yes, I've still not read it.

5. Film Tie-Ins. Warning rant ahead. I HATE them. That goes for tv tie ins too. They tend to be more cheaply made. Usually they just us the image of the film poster (how original of them) or the faces of the actors. It irritates me no end. I have been known to want to read a book because the film adaptation looks good. I refuse though to buy the ugly film version. It's a blot on my bookcase. I actually don't know anyone who likes them. Not only that, with the case of I, Robot some poor soul might actually think that the book is like the film and not realise it sucked all the goodness out of the book before filling it with special effects and product placement.

6. SF and Fantasy Masterworks. I'm not sure when this series was first published. I do remember the bookshop have lots of them and I would always pick up one or two when I was in. I discovered many a favourite author through them. The covers weren't exactly artistically done. In fact they looked very 80's in some cases. I loved the fact that the publisher had put this large collection together though and I did want to collect many of them. I think they are hard to get now. If I could I would have them released again as a series but with up to date striking covers.

7. Under the Dome by Stephen King. I actually don't like the hardback edition or these paperbacks. With the hardback I couldn't get the Simpsons movie out of my head. Actually, reading the book I couldn't get the Simpsons movie out of my head. These jackets are so unlike King though. I honestly thought when I first saw them that they were the cover of a Jodi Piccoult book or something similar. I really did do a double take when the name registered. I just don't think the covers suit the book.

8. The umpteenth new jacket in so many months. It is just money grabbing. The book industry is suffering just now and it's the YA market which is keeping some publishers above that red line. So they try to make the most out of it. Seriously though. How many editions of the twilight books do they need to release. There is the first lot, the hardback box set, the limited boxed editions of each book, the black with the red pages, the film covers and now the white with the red covers. I remember seeing it on twitter before they come out and I jokingly asked if they were going to bring white sparkly editions out next. Sadly the publisher thought I was serious and I didn't have the heart to tell them it was sarcasm. It's almost like they are taking advantage of young teenagers who will want all these collections of the same books. It's also a little sad that the publishers are putting all their money into this one book series instead of trying to find the next big thing.

9. Genre jackets. Have you noticed that most genres are filled with mass markets with poor covers? You walk into fiction or even the children's department and you will find that these mass market books are a rarity even amongs new author. Crime in particular is the highest selling type of book. Yet publishers put no money into their covers (or so it seems) or books. The only time they do is when they decide to rejacket them to encourage a wider market (I am thinking of the John Connolly books which were rejacketed to encourage more women to buy them). I'm not saying that every book deserves to have a little more care with their cover design but it would be nice if more of an effort was made. Especially with the books that are supposed to be classics. There are lots of authors who are revered for their classic sci fi titles and yet their books have horrendous cheaply made covers.

I am afraid I don't have another. I could rant about some of the non fiction covers but none specifically spring to mind.

EDIT: I finally came up with a tenth!

I don't hate the cover. It does have the handsome Rett Butler on it after all. I would just love to see it updated though. I would be very interested to see what an artist would come up with. I loved the book. I think I read it because it was on a book list years ago and I didn't expect to like it. Thought it was going to be a trumped up romance novel which it wasn't.


  1. I have never seen this Percy Jackson cover. I think I prefer the version I own.

  2. This is the UK version. You might have the US or film tie in.

  3. I agree on the twilight--but hey I'm kind of liking the white, I hadn't seen it before. Nice list. Kaye—the road goes ever ever on

  4. Yeah, they do look nice although I imagine collect dirt easily. I do think enough is enough though. With any luck they will wait for an anniversary before they decide on yet another edition.

  5. Totally agree with the movie tie-in editions. It made my list too. I actually try and find the previous edition with the original cover. Only if I have to, will I break down and by the movie cover.

  6. Movie covers! Yuck! I am glad to hear someone hates them as much as I do.

    Here is my list http://hawthornescarlet.blogspot.com/2011/04/top-ten-tuesday-stop-embarassing-me.html

  7. I have actually yet to meet someone who likes the movie tie-ins. Yes, they sell but that's usually because customers aren't given the choice. I think they assume that customers are too stupid to find the correct book without altering the cover. It's a bit insulting.