When the cover fails

I have to give credit to Bookshelves of Doom for this one.

One of my favorite books this year and perhaps in a very long time has been Christine Fletcher’s Ten Cents a Dance. It’s set in 1940s Chicago and follows Ruby as she becomes a taxi dancer to make money to move her family up in the world. It’s beautifully rich, with a great plot, great characters, and a fantastic setting and era. Here’s the cover:

Perfect! It captures a sense of time and place, and it doesn’t give you too much in terms of what the story’s about so that as a reader, you can make your own images.

Well, as has been a trend for a while now, the publisher has decided to change the cover for the paperback of this book. This is the paperback cover:

I’m really, really disappointed in this one. First, it kills any sense of time. Second, the male character there? He’s not in the story. And really, groping on the front cover? I don’t think this looks like a 17-year-old in 1940s Chicago at all. In fact, this books like every other book out recently set in contemporary times. It reminds me a lot of many of Simone Elkeles’s paperbacks.

I think this is a mistake — it’s now going to have a harder time finding its audience, who may be turned off immediately by a cover that not only looks like so many others on the market, but also because it doesn’t convey that it’s a historical fiction that’s not filled with boys groping girls (Ruby would actually be quite offended, I think!). Although I don’t require my books to give me anything on the cover, when a cover is such a success because it DOES capture the essence of the story, it’s disheartening to see that discarded for something generic.

What do you think? Have you seen any other hard cover to paper back cover changes that have made you cringe?

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  1. says

    I think it is a horrible horrible change. I thought the hard cover was perfect – a great sense of what the story was going to be and a great picture of Ruby (I like that she's pretty, but kind of unconventionally).

    Bah, hate that new cover!

  2. says

    *nods* That was my first thought when I saw the new cover – it looks like Perfect Chemistry! I mean, I'm not head over heels in love with the original cover (though I love the book), but it's a million times better than the new one.

  3. says

    Uck. That is an awful cover change. I really hated the cover change for "Audrey, Wait!" — the paperback is so less effective when booktalking to teens.

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