Cover Repackaging & Reaching New Readers

I love looking at what publishers choose to do with recovering “classic” YA titles. They take a book that’s done well and still in print and give it a new look, hoping to not only keep it relevant to today’s aesthetics but also in hopes of reaching new readers. Here are a few repackaged titles and for the most part, I really like them (even if some fall into the trappings that bother me).

The top two are the first two books in Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Peaches series and were originally published in 2006 (did you know those were Alloy properties? I just learned that). The bottom are the recovered releases. While both the redesigned covers are half girls, I think they are pretty good. They’re very contemporary and I can see teen girls looking for contemporary fiction picking these up without any question as to what kind of story they’ll get. I don’t mind the original covers, actually, but I think they might look a little young and more middle grade than they do YA. I prefer the title and author treatment on the redesign to the original because I think they stand out a little more/look a little more modern. The redesigned covers actually remind me a lot of the repackaged cover for Laurie Halse Anderson’s Catalyst.

I don’t mind the original cover, especially because I think the fact it’s illustrated is unique. That said, I really like the redesigned cover and think it will again stand out to teens. I love how the math element is woven into the image and the girl looks sad without necessarily looking weak (she’s not in the story). I appreciate how the new cover still has the orange hue to it, like the original one. As far as the title and author font, the new one works and I think it’s interesting (and good!) that they’re doing the author name placement in the same way they’re doing it for all of Sarah Dessen’s books. 

I dig these redesigns for Caroline B Cooney’s Janie series a LOT. I remember reading all of these books repeatedly when I was younger, and I think this new look will get new readers to pick them up. I’ve done a cover retrospective on Cooney before (and apologies — some of the images need to be resaved/uploaded). The image on the left is one of the original covers while the one on the right is the new design.

I love how it’s gotten a new creepy vibe. This feels so much more contemporary than the prior cover. It’s simple and easy on the eyes and I think that’s what makes it so appealing.

The mouth popping out of the radio? That could give me a nightmare or two. I guess the one thing that I don’t think works great on the redesigns of these books is the font and size of the title. Seems like it could be bolder or easier to read if it were larger. But the use of a single image in the center of an otherwise black cover just works for me. It has impact.

There are the other two in the series. I appreciate how all of the recovered books still have something reminiscent of the originals to them, too. All of the Cooney recovers are what the current ebook covers are, and they’ll be available in paperback next month.

Do you prefer the older covers? The newer ones? Can you think of any other books that have been out for a couple or more years that have been recovered? 

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  1. says

    I really like the new covers and know my students will too. The book that most needs an updated cover is Karen Hesse's "Out of the Dust". It literally took me twenty years to read it because it's such a dud. Since it is such a classroom staple, I wish they would do a cover redesign contest like they did with "Lord of the Flies":

    • says

      They have total teen appeal, all of the redesigns. I really love those redesigns of "Lord of the Flies," too. I think it would be neat if they did that sort of thing for a number of the "classic" titles, especially in YA.

  2. says

    I think all of these new covers are really good. You are spot on about Jodi Lynn Anderson's books originally looking more middle grade than YA. And I really like the new covers for the Janie series. It may be one of my favorite styles for the series yet.

  3. says

    I love the new covers for the Janie series! I really enjoyed those books when I was younger. I have them in my classroom, but no one picks them up which I'm guessing is because of the covers. I'll have to buy these new editions.

    • says

      They are but the story itself is a little creepy — maybe not as much in today's world, but at least when I read them, I remember being a little creeped out!

  4. says

    I like the new covers that publishers put on older titles. They are generally much catchier, in terms of attracting contemporary readers. It is amazing how the perception of what is an attractive cover has changed and I wonder what will catch our eyes in another few years. Surely girls in prom dresses will go out of fashion?

    The best cover upgrades, for me, are the ones done for the first two Thief books by Megan Whalen Turner. Nobody would give them any attention with the old covers.

    • says

      I had to go look up the old covers for the Turner series and I absolutely agree. The new ones are way more eye catching and a little more genre-oriented than the original (which I think is a good thing, not a bad thing, since it absolutely helps readership).

      I sure hope in 10 years, girls in prom dresses aren't still the style of choice. It'll be interesting to see which of today's GiPDs are still in print/what kind of update cover-wise they'd get.

  5. says

    Don't like the Cooney new covers at all. The old ones aren't great either but the new ones give me the feeling of horror or scary books and that is not at all what that series is about. I wouldn't have picked the books up with the new covers I know that.

    • says

      I think the series is a little scary, though — not horror levels and not as scary as a lot of the books marketed/written today. I do think they could turn off readers who aren't into that kind of book, but that they'd turn on new readers with the new covers I think is a good thing (because the old covers are definitely dated).

      I'm curious: what would your imagined covers look like for this series?

    • says

      I'm honestly not sure. I don't consider myself a design expert by any means I just know that these new covers don't really convey the meaning of the book, for me anyway. But I do agree that they will open doors for new readers which is always a good thing and definitely is a reason this series is still popular, years after publication.

      I think the new covers remind me of the creepy Todd Strasser covers (something like Wish You Were Dead) and I think that's why I have such a bad reaction to these covers, since I wasn't fond of the Strasser ones either.

  6. says

    I definitely agree with Sarah. I think these books will find new readers with the updated covers, but I know I would be disappointed if I picked up the new cover version of the Face on the Milk Carton because I'd be expecting a horror story and it's not.

    • says

      I can see that. It will be interesting to see what sort of reactions they do get from today's teens, whether they think the covers are a good fit or aren't necessarily reflective of content (though 99% of the girls in pretty dresses have nothing to do with the content either).

  7. says

    re: Peaches – I don't LOVE either of the covers, but I like both old and new a lot. The newer ones may have a leg up just because they are a bit more fresh-looking, but the fact that the last Peaches book doesn't seem to have been repackaged makes me a little sad — if I were going to buy the series now, I'd want my books to match so I do hope they repackage the last one as well.

    And the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books have also been repackaged – I LOVE the new covers – never cared that much for the old covers.

    Also, I do like the creepy-horror vibe of the new Cooney covers because when I read the books as a kid I was so not expecting them to be as creepy as they were based on the covers.

    • says

      My guess is they will repackage the third one if these do well. I don't know for sure but that sorta seems to be the trend (that's what they did with some Lois Duncan repackaging).

      I DO like the new covers for the Sisterhood books, too. Much better.

      And yess. I thought the Cooney books had a little creep factor when I read them — not horror, not super scary, but that realistic kinda scary. The new covers kinda get that.

  8. says

    I really hate that teen books always have models now! I actually prefer the original covers of the two PEACHES books despite the fact that *now* they look more MG. I think it's the way the peaches look different from one book to the next that I like so much.

    I agree with you on preferring the new cover for CATALYST to the old one. It really stands out. Those colors! That etching in the background!

    Oh gosh, I remember the Janie books! The new covers look so much creepier!!! I don't remember the series being that creepy, though.

    THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS was recently redesigned. That immediately comes to mind. I actually like the new covers a lot and think they go well with the new book that came out last year (A hardcover still sitting prettily on my shelf waiting for me to read it…^^;;) So did the Cold Awakening trilogy by Robin Wasserman, which was also given new titles. The old covers made me want to read the series because they reminded me of Scott Westerfeld's UGLIES back when. But now…omg, they're GORGEOUS and I need to have these covers in my life!

    I know this isn't quite what you mean, but I really dislike when covers on a series change before you can collect them all. THE RIVALS by Daisy Whitney and PANDEMONIUM by Lauren Oliver come to mind.

  9. says

    I love the redesigns for the Cooney covers. They freak me out in a very good way, definitely. Re: Catalyst's redesign, I really dig all the equations in the air. It screams movie poster — again, in a very good way.

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