Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The wide world of Harry Potter cover art

This past summer I posted about re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. I illustrated my post with a picture of Bloomsbury's original children's UK cover (pictured here). Many of my readers commented that they had never seen the British covers before. I was shocked.

Of course, there's no reason for American readers to know the British cover art. But having lived over here, I've discovered a whole other Harry Potter world. Not just the cover art, but reading the non-translated English (all that snogging!), seeing traditional school uniforms and football furor, Harry Potter has become even more real (and British) to me. Plus, I still have the occasional Harry Potter moment when I encounter something that feels straight out of the books (like when I take the train and get offered something from the food trolley!).

As long-time readers of the blog know, I love cover art. I love analyzing it, judging it, laughing at it, and reveling in it, though I'm certainly not an expert (if you love cover art, too, I highly recommend that cover girl for all things relating to YA covers). So I figured I'd give you a taste of the wide world of Harry Potter cover art. For a more comprehensive sample, visit the Harry Potter wiki's article on cover art.

Here's the first Bloomsbury UK children's cover:

And for my British readers, here's the first US Scholastic cover (of course, with the different title, the Sorcerer's Stone):

Harry Potter has actually had several different covers in the UK. Bloomsbury published separate editions for children and for adults (which I think is pretty clever). Here's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as Bloomsbury's adult edition:

And I've never seen this on the shelves, but there was apparently another adult edition with different cover art (I suspect it didn't sell as well and was discontinued). Shame, I LOVE this edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:

Bloomsbury has also recently created a Signature edition. Here's that Deathly Hollows:

A few others, just for your enjoyment:

Bloomsbury's children's cover of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

Scholastic's US cover of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

Scholastic's US cover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows:

Which do you love most? Which would you have loved as a kid? If you could get a complete set of any, which? I definitely have my eyes on Bloomsbury's early adult edition (the one with the train)! I'm not sure they fit the tone of the books. But they're beautiful!


  1. I quite like the signature editions - I plan to get them myself soon :)
    As for the UK vs US covers, I much prefer the UK ones. I certainly don't like the 'Sorcerer's Stone' US cover, sorry!

  2. Rachael: Well, as a UK reader, that's how you're SUPPOSED to feel! So I guess the marketing team has done its job! Ohhh, getting a complete edition of the signature set sounds lovely.

  3. I love the UK covers! They offer so much more interest. I wonder why? Maybe because they seem more like a boutique cover than a mass-market? I think the idea of having adult covers and children's covers is brilliant. I'd love to have a collection of the signature editions too.

    Heh! I just remembered a friend of mine who ALWAYS ordered his HP books from the UK. Now, I think I know why.

  4. I prefer the darker covers where Harry is visible.

    This was interesting. I wasn't aware of the other covers.

    I'd like to get the full set since I only read the first two books (and I'd like to reread them again).

  5. An American friend, living for a while in the UK, and a huge HP fan, collected a new set of HP books, with each volume from a different European country. When we were in Paris, we had to track down the French ones, I sent him the German ones, and they picked up Italian editions while travelling. I loved the idea of having a set that reflects all the different covers.

  6. Bridgette: Yes, the idea of adult and children's covers is definitely marketing gold! I wish the US would do that for other crossover books. In the UK the different editions are then shelved in different sections of the store, too.

    Medeia: Thanks, glad I could share! I do think it would be nice to have them all as a complete set. My copies (which are currently in storage anyway) are some used, some paperback, some hardcover...

    Elisabeth: THAT is clever. Love that rainbow collection idea! That way you could pick your favorites from EACH edition!

  7. I love seeing different cover art from different countries. It always seems that the non-US editions are more interesting.

  8. Karen: Perhaps it's that they're unfamiliar, or exotic... but you're definitely right! I've become such a cover snob, picking between my favorites from US and UK editions! Holly Black's White Cat series has GORGEOUS UK covers.

  9. Wow, this is so interesting. I had no idea there were adult editions. That's kind of genius. I've seen a few UK covers and they've been very similar to the US covers--only slight differences. But these are very different. Very cool to see. Thanks so much for sharing.

  10. Kelly: Thanks, happy to share! It would be interesting to hear from Bloomsbury how the separate kids-adults editions worked out, and whether they'd be inclined to do it in the future.

  11. I had no idea that HP was out in an adult-cover edition. Fascinating. And then I realized up-aging is exactly what happend to Nova Ren Suma's debut MG Dani Noir, soon to be re-released as a young YA with a new cover and new title, Fade Out.

  12. Anne: Yes, INTERESTING, isn't it?! I was relieved to see all the discussion on the BBs about it, because I was kind of thrown by Nova's news, too. Of course, as an adult who reads and enjoys children's books, I'm perfectly willing to believe they can be successful with any age. And exciting that the book industry might be getting on board with that idea, too.

  13. What a great post! I LOVE the UK covers and am thinking I need to have a collection of them. I, too, had no idea there were adult-cover versions. Wow.

    Since I've been out of touch lately with storms/power outages, I hadn't realized you changed your site. Love the new banner!

  14. Andrea: Thanks! Such a happy thing when you have cover love! I bet you could order them at the Book Depository, which has free shipping from the UK to the US...

    Thanks for the banner love, too! There was no official announcement about changing it, and it's still a work in progress. I was just getting more embarrassed daily about how outdated it looked!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.