Thursday, November 24, 2011

More American vs. British book covers

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. Enjoy your food and football, friends and family. But since Phil and I (and our British friends!) aren't celebrating until Saturday*, I figured I could blog in the meantime. Nothing too arduous, just some pretty pictures for us to nit-pick.

Since my post on the UK vs US Harry Potter covers was of such interest, I figured I'd work the other way across the pond, and show you some American covers and their British versions which I've been reading lately.

American Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor:

British Daughter of Smoke and Bone:

I haven't seen the American version in person, but I imagine it sticks out on the shelf. The UK version may not look so distinct online, but I LOVE my British hardcover. The feathers glimmer as you tilt the book. So pretty!

American White Cat and Red Glove by Holly Black:

British White Cat and Red Glove:

 I have seen all of these in person, and LOVE the UK versions (so intriguing and arty). But I was surprised when I got an American copy of White Cat how much I liked it. There's no wow factor to it, but it's modeled to look like an adult thriller, and with the raised text and stark colors, it's certainly eye-catching. And perhaps, from a marketing perspective, it does a better job of drawing in its intended readers.

American Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson:

British Wintergirls:

I'm torn on Wintergirls. The American version is the arty one, chilling and memorable. But the British cover, while looking a bit more blah, perhaps does a better job of reflecting what the story's literally about.

What do you think? What covers have you fallen for recently?

*BTW, for those of you who are curious, yes, Phil and I are carrying on our Thanksgiving in the UK tradition for the fourth year. Lots of scientists and writers, lots of traditional food from all sorts of traditions, and lots of fun. See my Thanksgiving tag for more on the party.


  1. Have fun on Saturday! We've never celebrated - I guess because it's a regular work and school day here and by the weekend we're focused on other things.

    Cool idea to contrast the covers! I think I like the British one better for Wintergirls, because of the fact that it does let you know right away what the book is about - so more likely IMO to be picked up by someone browsing who didn't set out to buy that book in particular.


  2. I'm struck by the way that all the American covers feature faces, while all the British ones feature things. Arty things. The danger with a face is that it can be a turn off as much as a turn on...but artiness sometimes isn't quite as compelling. I say this as an author whose books are about to be rejacketed from faces to artiness...

  3. Elisabeth: Well, if I stay any longer in the UK, you'll have to come join us next year! We might easily have passed it up, too, honestly, except the timing worked well. We had just gotten settled and began to make friends when our first Thanksgiving rolled around, so it made sense to invite people over as a way to say thanks. And then it became a thing, as these things do. =)

    I find so much of my time is spent looking at British vs American covers, and I've become a total snob about which I purchase... so figured I should share a bit of my obsession. ;)

    Keren: Wow! I'm completely embarrassed, but I had really not noticed that all the Brit covers I showed didn't have faces! I do think of the arty cover as more European, but not necessarily British. But of course, the evidence is staring me in the face! I also tend to agree, faces on covers can go very wrong, but they can add a humanising, personal side to a cover. Like Joe! Though I loved the cover art to Lia, too. Interesting FL has decided to go more that route.

  4. If these are representative, I must be more British in my sensibilities, even though I hold the other passport.
    Nice post!

  5. The British covers have more of a 1950s feel to them; I wonder if they're being consciously retro or just don't put the $$ into graphics like American publishers do? (Fifties-early Sixties art leaves me cold.) I'm well aware that American covers reflect the book's actual content maybe 50% of the time if that, but at least the books stand out on the shelves.

  6. Mirka: Glad to share! You'll have to come over sometime for a book buying binge! I know, I'm such an evil temptress. ;)

    Anne: Interesting point... I don't know the answer easily. I know a few Brit companies (Chicken House, for example) put a lot of money into their cover design. But perhaps photo shoots are even more expensive, and those do seem a bit rarer. I think it's a complex dance between making the cover art pop, fairly representing what the book is about, and attracting the right readers.

  7. Holly Blacks British covers are better than the US ones. But for the others, I think the US are more eye catching.

  8. I love seeing the different covers. It's so much fun to compare. I like the American cover for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, although you nearly changed my mind when you mentioned the shimmery feathers.
    I feel like the American Holly Black covers with the black backgrounds look similar in style to so many other books out there right now, that I really prefer the UK versions, especially for White Cat.
    For Wintergirls, definitely the UK version. The text draws me right in.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Anne. Enjoy your celebration!

  9. Kelly: I think that's where I fall, too, liking some British covers and some American ones. Luckily I get to pick and choose! ;)

    Ruth: The shimmery feathers really do make it. ;) Yeah, the UK Holly Black covers really are beautiful, aren't they? I paid more money and waited longer for the UK version of Red Glove to come out, just for that cover. Such a geek.

    Anyway, thank you so much for the Thanksgiving wishes, and happy belated Thanksgiving to you, too!


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