Hardcover to Paperback Switches: 6 to Consider

Let’s have another conversation about cover changes. I love these posts, and I love thinking about the way that covers really do impact the audience to which a book is sold. Some of these changes are for the better, but some of them make me scratch my head a tiny bit. As usual, the hardcover is on the left and the paperback is on the right.

This isn’t the first time Jessica Brody’s contemporary novels have received a face lift when they’ve gone from hardcover to paperback. It sort of seems like the look she gets in hardcover is sharper than the one she gets in paperback, which tend to look more lighthearted and in the style of “chick lit” (if you’ll excuse my use of the term). With 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, I think the change to paperback is a huge improvement. I really dislike the hardcover. I don’t like the model and I think the use of the lights is super distracting (I keep thinking they’re diamonds, rather than lights). I think it’s sort of gaudy. There’s too much going on in it. 
The paperback, though, is a huge improvement. It gives the book a lighter feel to it, and the image is more cohesive and, I think, more relevant to the plot. Worth noting, though, is that beneath the author’s name, the note is that she’s the author of Unremembered. Unremembered came out on March 5, just recently, but the paperback edition of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father came out in paperback on February 5. I guess readers were just supposed to know her via her noteworthy book prior to it coming out? Or maybe this is a sign of how much is being hoped for for Unremembered? Whatever the reasoning behind that weird choice, I think the paperback edition of 52 Reasons is much better than the hardcover. 

Jennifer Miller’s The Year of the Gadfly isn’t a young adult book, but it was one of the titles on this year’s vetted nomination lists for the Alex Awards. It might be described as a cross between The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks and The Mockingbirds. The hardcover on the left is, how to say, not appealing. It looks like an unmemorable literary tome. It says nothing as to what the content may be. I would say that there’s no hint this could be a book with great teen appeal either.

But oh that paperback. That paperback is one of my favorite covers in a very long time. This is a book that looks like it has appeal to teen readers. I love the use of the plaid for the entire girl. I love the way the yellow contrasts with the blue, but there is then the coordinating yellow stripe to tie it together. I love that she’s off centered. I love that the girl looks like she’s ready to take charge, too. She’s not crossing her arms and she’s not hiding. She’s standing proud and with confidence. Not to mention the font choice for the title and for the author’s name is so much better. There’s also the addition of a blurb for the paperback, which calls the book part Dead Poet’s Society and part Heathers, which again, hits some mega appeal factors for teen readers.

This is the kind of cover I can’t stop staring at. The Year of the Gadfly will be out in paperback on May 28, and I hope someone is kind enough to gift me a copy of this fine looking book. I’ve got a hardcover, but I want the paperback so bad.

Like Jessica Brody, Susane Colasanti is a regular to the change in cover looks when she goes from hardcover to paperback. In the case for Keep Holding On, I think it’s a hugely positive change. The reason is pretty simple though — it’s way less about the styling (which I like the handholding and the spots of red and pink giving just enough of a romantic feel) and more about the fact it’s much more timeless than the hardcover. The hardcover plays into the fashion trends of today. There are the skinny jeans. There are the Chucks. It feels very contemporary teen, whereas the paperback edition feels much more like the kind of book that won’t date.

Worth noting is the new tag line on the paperback: “Sometimes love is worth the risk.” Although this book certainly has some romance in it, the real meat behind the story is the plot about bullying (and this bullying comes through issues relating to social class). When the book first came out, that was the biggest selling point. So it’s interesting with the new tag line that the selling point’s changed to being more about the romance. I suspect had I read it with the new cover, I may have liked it more, since I found the bullying storyline weak.

Keep Holding On will be out in paperback on April 23. Interesting to note this might be the only paperback change for Colsanti’s books that actually doesn’t include a couple on it (just their hands).

I wish I could make the spacing on this pair less weird, but I can’t. On the left is the hardcover edition of Michelle Gagnon’s thriller Don’t Turn Around. Kind of creepy, with the hand coming out of the book, but the effect is also neat. I am a fan of orange covers because I think they’re pretty different (there are so few). But I really dislike ombre styling, which this cover is a major victim of in both the general cover and in the font coloring, too. The tag line for the hardcover is “Just keep running.” That doesn’t tell us a whole lot, but in conjunction with the title, I do think it says quite a bit. Also, I don’t want that hand after me.

The paperback version of Don’t Turn Around is nice and blue. I love the way the title has been played with quite a bit — I like the change in sizes there. This cover is, for the most part, very plain, but I think that plainness might be a huge advantage for the book. The cover reads as a thriller to me. Interestingly, the tag line also changed a little bit: “Off the grid. On the run.” Both of these covers are fine with me. I don’t necessarily think one is better or stronger than the other, nor do I think one will appeal to a different readership.

Don’t Turn Around will be available in paperback July 9.

I’m a little late to the party on this change, as the paperback edition of Jenny Downham’s You Against Me came out last September. But I think there’s something worth talking about here! 
The hardcover edition of the book is desperate, isn’t it? The girl and the boy are holding on to each other tightly. They fit the title and to some extent, it fits the content of the story, too. I kind of dig how gray the cover is. The only spot of color comes when the author’s name is highlighted. 
Now let’s talk about the paperback. There’s an entirely different feeling, as there is no longer an embrace between the boy and girl. The girl is walking away from the boy who is himself not even looking at the girl. He’s also got his hands in his pockets. There’s no stopping her nor is there even a sense of sadness about her leaving him. As is the case with the girl on a cover of a book, her hair is partially obscuring her face. The image conveys some sadness on her part, and it conveys complete indifference on his part. That’s quite different than the hardcover where there’s definite desperation between the girl and the boy. I don’t like the way the gray is on this cover, either. In combination with the picture, it’s just very sad. And while the book itself can’t be described as an uplifting read, there’s little to compel me toward picking up this copy. Even the slight color for the title is depressing: kind of pinkish red and brown. 
For me, this is a hardcover winner. 

While we’re on the boy-girl relationship displayed on the cover trope, how about the change for Katie Kacvinsky’s First Comes Love? The close up kiss kind of looks like every other book featuring a couple near kissing. The title fades into the background in favor of the faces, and the font choice is very thin to the point of being easy to miss. It is also the only spot of color on the cover. 
The paperback edition of First Comes Love brings something entirely new to the game, though. Here’s a very minimalist cover, and it’s one that features a nice neon-inspired green. That color not only makes the cover pop, but the use of another type of green on the heart-shaped cactus as the only image makes that image pop, too. What I don’t like about the change is the change in font for the title. Sure, it’s better than the thin font on the hardcover, but it looks very juvenile (the “first comes” part does). The “love” is only a little bit better. I don’t know if this cover conveys much about the book’s content, though. Maybe that love is thorny? I haven’t read it, so I can’t add much more. If it’s going for the love is thorny aspect, then this is a huge contrast from the hardcover’s almost-kiss. 
Even though I have some quibbles with the paperback, I think it’s a better cover overall. First Comes Love will be out in paperback May 7. 
What do you think? Which did it better in this batch of covers, the paperbacks or the hardcovers? 

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  1. says

    This is so cool to see them side by side. I was most interested in The Year of the Gadfly. You're so right that the hardcover looks literary and not at ALL YA. It looks like the trend of JK Rowlings Casual Vacancy, or Jeffery Eugenidies' The Marriage Plot, with the kind of throw-back large title. Like you, I LOVE the paperback. It looks more YA, and yet I could still see that as an adult market type book, and very much a "book club" type pick.

    I'd actually be interested to know who designed that because they did so well!

  2. says

    So disappointed in the You Against Me redesign. I always loved the way the two of them are clutching one another in the hardcover. I also think it places with the double meaning of the title, as well. You Against Me is a phrase that can mean two bodies pressed together or two people at odds, and the hardcover highlights the desperation of both those means. You're totally right, the paperback is just depressing. I also think the paperback has more potential to become outdated looking.

  3. says

    Having read First Comes Love, I adore the new cover. The story is set in Arizona and the setting is a huge part of the story. The two main characters go on a lot of hikes, go exploring, and take in the whole of the southwest together. Including a cactus is totally spot-on.

  4. says

    I love posts like this! I think it is a definite improvement on the Jessica Brody cover…it kind of gives the book a whole different feel that might create wider readership.

    Not really sure I like the Michelle Gagnon cover as much. Like you said, I don't dislike it, but I just did this book with my Guys Read book club, and I think the long hair on the paperback copy would be made it seem a little too much like a thriller for girls. They are great about reading books with girl characters (as long as the book is good, they don't care), but I have a lot of middle school guys that if I book even might have a girl character, they don't really want to read it. Regardless, I love the new tagline tons more than the hard cover one!

  5. says

    I think the paperback for First Comes Love is so much better-I really hate the hardcover and I'm not sure why though. It just looks ugh to me. I love the new covers for 52 Things and You Against Me, especially the You Against Me cover-it's so striking.

  6. says

    While I like the new cover for First Comes Love, I don't think it fits the book. It feels light and rom-com-ish, but the book is really not. I quite liked the book, but it's heavier, older YA, dare I say even NA.

    I hate the old cover, too, though.

  7. says

    52 Reasons to Hate My Father: Definitely HB! The PB cover makes it come across more as Chick Lit than YA.

    The Year of the Gadfly: Not really impressed with either cover. I probably would not want to read this book. But, of the 2, the PB cover is the lesser of 2 evils.

    Keep Holding On: I love the HB cover of this. So pretty and romantic. I do not like the PB cover at all.

    Don't Turn Around: Definitely the HB cover! Love the effects on this one….the creepy hand.

    You Against Me: The HB cover is one of the that seem to grace *EVERY* NA book lately. News flash: I hate that happening. I definitely prefer the PB cover. The title says "You Against Me", and that makes me feel that they are arguing, not making out. The PB says that better.

    First Comes Love by Kate Kacvinsky: I like the original cover best. But, since I saw they matched the 2nd book to the 1st one’s new cover, I think those 2 look better together.

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