Hardcover to Paperback: Six YA Redesigns to Consider

Cover redesigns are maybe my favorite thing to think about. Obviously, I like to blog about them since I think I do one of these about once a month. Let’s call today’s installment cover redesigns with a bit of a twist. The twist is two out of the five not only got a cover makeover, but they also got title makeovers in the process as well. Some of these are great makeovers and some are maybe not as great as the original.

Melissa Marr’s Carnival of Souls got a new look in paperback in September, along with a new title. Rather than being Carnival of Souls, it’s now Untamed City: Carnival of Secrets. You may or may not remember, but this is a book that had a lawsuit brought upon it by someone who claimed to have trademarked the title Carnival of Souls. So it’s not really a surprise that the paperback got a new title all together to avoid the mess (if you haven’t read the story linked above, I suggest you do because it’s a doozy).

In terms of the cover change itself, I didn’t have an issue with the original, though it’s not necessarily original or memorable. The paperback on the right, I think, is an improvement, though it certainly changes the entire feel of the book itself. In many ways, the redesign reminds me of the cover for Amy Garvey’s Cold Kiss. I like how the cover does feel a little bit cold, which fits with the book’s title and “secrets,” if you will. In many ways, the paperback redesign also feels a little bit older to me, and it might have appeal to more adult readers than the hardcover design.

Abigail Haas, who you may know better as Abby McDonald, will see her psychological thriller Dangerous Girls get a new look in paperback this summer. I’m reading this book right now (which I’ll talk about in a post later this week) and part of what attracted me to the book in the first place was the really standout hardcover image. It’s so different. I love the use of sand, as it not only gives a sense of the story’s setting — it’s on a tropical island — but there’s also something mysterious, intriguing, and maybe more than anything, there’s something unsettling about the impermanence of the sand letters and handcuff. This is a story which looks as trust and mistrust, and I feel like the hardcover does a good job portraying that.

The paperback, which will be available May 6, gives a very different image on the cover and yet still somehow captures the feel of the story well. In many ways, it’s more telling of what happens in the story (there is a dead girl) though I’m not sure it’s different enough to stand out on shelves in the same way that the hardcover is. Is that a bad thing? Maybe or maybe not. Readers who like thrillers will easily see that in this cover, and maybe even more noteworthy, readers who like female-driven thrillers in adult fiction, like Megan Abbott or Gillian Flynn, may be tempted to pick this up because it’s reminiscent of their covers. I love the font for the title a lot: it’s fun in a way that is almost uncomfortable in context of the story and words themselves.

Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler was one of my favorite reads last year, and I’m really excited to talk about it a little more now that the Outstanding Books list is out and this book is on it (that’s a spoiler for a future post). The cover on the left is the hardcover. It’s not a bad cover, but I don’t think it’s the kind of cover that has people clamoring to pick it up by looks alone. It’s pretty basic, and it doesn’t give a whole lot of insight into what the story is about. You know the title — which, while a great title, also doesn’t tell you much — and the tagline, “My one-way ticket to salvation” suggests this is a book about a person coming to terms with their faith.

That paperback though.

That paperback.

This redesign might be one of my all-time favorite redesigns because it nails the book perfectly, and not only does it nail the book, but it has massive reader appeal to it. Readers see this and they want to know the story. The boy on the cover just did something bad by cutting his tie. And his tie has a cross on it, so you know this is something serious. The tag line for the paperback changed quite a bit, too, and for the better. Rather than claiming this is a story about the author’s salvation, it’s instead “A true story about growing up gay in an evangelical family.” That absolutely nails the story, and not only does it nail the story, it does so in a way that’s really appealing and allows readers to know exactly what they’re getting into. Perhaps they relate! Perhaps they’re just curious! It’s much more enticing and engaging than the prior one.

Also added on the paperback is a blurb from Maria Semple. What’s interesting is her book, Where’d You Go Bernadette? is adult fiction, but it earned an Alex Award. So there’s a less-than-subtle attraction to this YA memoir for adult readers, too. The image and tag line are completely teen friendly but that blurb invites older readers into the story too.

Rapture Practice will be available in paperback on June 10, and I think even though I bought a copy of the hardcover for my library’s collection already, I’ll also be picking up a paperback because it’ll bring the story to even more readers.

Here’s the second of the six books in this roundup of cover makeovers that not only got a new look in paperback, but it also got a new title. Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff came out last summer, and the cover is on the left. Again, not a bad cover at all. The tagline doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the story, but the image on the cover itself does a good job explaining what the story is about. It’s action adventure and this has definite appeal to male readers (though I don’t think in any way it is a cover that would turn off female readers).

The paperback, which will be available May 13, has a new title: I Am The Weapon. I think I like the new title, as it does a much better job telling readers what the story is, and as can be seen on the cover, there’s no longer a tagline. Perhaps this is because the title is explanatory enough without further elaboration. The image on the cover changed, but it’s not so drastic a change that the feel of the cover or story is different. Rather than being black, it’s got a blue hue to it, and the character who is running is much more in the forefront than on the hardcover. There is a blurb from the Publisher’s Weekly review on the paperback, and while I don’t tend to love blurbs on covers, I feel like it works really well here. That it highlights the story is hard-edged and entertaining should sell the story to the exact right readership. This paperback also tells readers this is the first in a series, “The Unknown Assassin,” which itself is printed on the cover.

The sequel to the book also got a bit of a title change, too, and it’ll fit with the new one for this book: I Am The Mission.

Would you ever guess by the title, tag line, or image that the hardcover on the left was not a dystopia but instead a psychological thriller about a cult? Because I wouldn’t, and that’s why when I was given a copy of Amy Christine Parker’s Gated, it fell and fell and fell to the bottom of my pile of reading. I love cult stories, but I am not huge on dystopia. And the cover didn’t compel me in the least either. Simply stated: it blends in. It’s boring. I think the tagline doesn’t do it any favors either: “She thought the evil lived outside the walls. She was wrong.” It’s generic.

But the paperback. I love the paperback. It has an entirely fresh feel to it and it feels like a psychological thriller, rather than blending into the sea of dystopians. I love that it’s a font-driven design, and yet, I also love the girl who is on the cover. She’s in a dress, but it’s not a fancy one. It looks pretty generic, like the kind of thing a girl in a cult might be forced to wear. I love how the blue font plays against the orange-hued wheat field the girl is standing in, and I also think that the blurb use on the cover is a huge enhancement. You know immediately it’s a psychological thriller.

We’ve seen a million covers with girls who have hair blowing in their faces, but it works here so well. You know there’s something more going on here. That it’s purposeful. This cover also seems to have a lot of crossover appeal to it, and again, like the Haas cover, I think that it is being done in a smart way. I’m much more tempted to pick this book up now than I was with the original cover. And since I don’t think I bought this one for my collection when it was out in hardcover, I’m eager to get this series going at the library with the new look.

Gated will be available in paperback on May 27.

I don’t even know what to say about this cover redesign, so I’ll keep it pretty simple: why? Why did they insist on putting a girl doing duck face into the background of the paperback edition of Mindy Raf’s Symptoms of My Insanity? It is not only scary but it also almost undermines the title, as well as what the book itself seems to want to be tackling. I’m positive there’s some humor in this story, and perhaps that was the thinking behind it, but no. No. This was a real huge step back and makes little sense. I like the addition of the tag line, the removal of the oddly-darker-than-the-rest smiley face, but that girl. It kills the paperback cover for me.

I really wish the US edition of this book had gone with this look because I feel like it captures the feel of the story so much better without being a little … horrifying.

What do you think? Which cover and title redesigns nailed it and which ones fall flat?

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  1. says

    Kelly! Thanks so much for your enthusiasm for the RAPTURE PRACTICE redesign. Editor Kate Sullivan led the charge and designer Maggie Edkins NAILED IT. Couldn't be more pleased with my team at Little, Brown.

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