In this installment of YA books getting new looks in paperback, I’ve included not only standalone titles getting new looks, but I’ve included a series getting a new look, too. As usual, some of these redesigns are great and some of them I am not entirely sure I understand nor think have improved upon original ideas. Likewise, some of the cover redesigns have been clearly inspired by new trends, and whether that’s a positive or a negative for that particular book is up for debate.
All original covers are on the left, with their new looks on the right.
Beta by Rachel Cohn came out back in October 2012 and honestly, I kind of forgot about this book and the fact it’s the first in a series. I think some of it has to do with the fact the hardcover isn’t memorable. In fact, I think this cover looks like many other covers that came out at the same time — it’s a single girl’s face and that face isn’t necessarily memorable. Sure, she’s got a floral design on her skin, but that’s not enough to make this cover stand out from the crowd. When a book has a cover like this one, while it might be on trend, it’s also remarkably boring and forgettable. What is this book about vs what other books featuring a big face are about? I’m not sure. I have no idea what genre this book is, and even the blurb on the cover from Melissa de la Cruz doesn’t offer a whole lot. It’s a riveting novel about what? What the cover does have going for it is the title and font, which suggest this is perhaps science fiction of some flavor.
The paperback redesign of Beta came out last summer; like I said, this is a book I kind of forgot about because while it may have made a splash initially, it didn’t get on my radar nor have I read a lot about it. The redesign is much better than the hardcover, though I don’t know if I love it, either. Rather than make use of de la Cruz’s blurb, the redesign uses a tag line that . . . also doesn’t tell you a whole lot about the book, other than there will be romance (which can be the hook for a lot of readers, regardless of genre). I do like the color scheme going on, and I like the feel of the cover, since it’s clearly set in a warm, tropical, and likely exotic place. I like that the original font from the title carried over, as I do think between that and the image itself, there’s a little bit better genre placement. It’s still not perfectly clear, but it’s better.
But can someone explain to me what’s going on with that model’s foot? Why does it look bent in the wrong direction? She looks exceptionally uncomfortable like that.
For me, the paperback edition of Beta wins for better cover, and I think it’s fitting with the second book in the series, Emergent. When you look at that cover, the cover for Beta makes a little more sense, as the people look more robotic than they do human.
Speaking of Rachel Cohn, three books she co-authored with David Levithan are getting recovered for the fall.
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
Naomi & Ely’s No-Kiss List
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
There’s nothing particularly remarkable about any of these cover makeovers. They’re all pretty nice, though I’m not sure how much up to date they are compared to the original looks. One of the reasons it was noted that these books were getting redesigned was to play off the popularity of contemporary YA in the vein of John Green and Rainbow Rowell (of course). I don’t know so much that I see the influence of either of those authors’ books on these covers, especially since the original covers were themselves pretty iconic — maybe if I see it at all, I see a little of Will Grayson in the Nick and Norah cover. What I do like on all of the redesigns, though, is that the font is the driving force for the cover, and I think that good fonts are at play here. I also do like that both authors — who are each known for being pretty prolific — have had the size of the font for their names made bigger.
Interesting tag line of sorts, though, on Nick & Norah that I’m not sure I entirely understand: “The He-said/She-told New York Times Bestseller.” What’s the difference between he-said and she-told? I have read the book and saw the movie but I’m not sure I get that.
All of these Rachel Cohn and David Levithan paperback redesigns will be available September 23, 2014.
The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar is getting a redesign that I don’t think is better nor worse than the original. I think that they’re maybe missing the right audience for this book all together, as the hardcover reads really young and the paperback reads much more adult. Neither sort of hit that middle ground of young adult. I kind of like both covers, but I like them in context of one for younger readers and one for adult readers.
The original hardcover on the left has a tag line to it that, when you read it and look at the cover, doesn’t add or mean much: “He can grant all her wishes. But only she can save his life.” It looks to me like those are two girls laying on that bed, but I suppose it could be a guy on the lefthand side there laying beside a girl. If that’s the case, maybe the tagline makes a little more sense. I do love the font and placement for the title quite a bit.
On the paperback, the tag line is gone, but now there is a prominent blurb beneath the title. What stands out is how big and loud Tamora Pierce’s name is on the cover — it’s more obvious to me than the author’s name, which sort of fades into the background because the font is so thin and it’s hidden on the bottom (at least with the hardcover, her name is dark and easily pops out). The font choice for the title here confuses me a bit because there’s almost too much going on. For four words, there are three different fonts, including one that uses a mixture of capital and lowercase letters. As for the image, it’s clearer now that it’s a male and a female on the cover than it may be on the hardcover (I still think it’s two girls) but their stance is much more defensive than it is inviting to readers. Are they angry? I can’t say I am a huge fan of the red dots along the right-hand side, nor am I particularly keen on the faded effect. Is that snow on the ground or just how the image looks? I’m not entirely sure.
I don’t think either cover is great, and I don’t think either is terrible. Both are sort of middle ground. The paperback for The Art of Wishing will be available June 12, 2014, and the second book in the series, The Fourth Wish, will retain the style of the redesign (and, I think, looks much better than the paperback redesign).
Like with The Art of Wishing, I have a lot of neutral mixed feelings about both the hardcover and the paperback redesign of Alex London’s Proxy. On one hand, the hardcover is pretty distinctive, even if it’s not the most visually appealing. It’s distinctive because it’s jarring and because it forces you to pause and try to make sense of it. It makes use of a mirrored effect, but it’s not a perfect mirror image. The font is, but if you look at the two faces on the cover, they’re much different — and that is, in many ways, really eerie to see. I’m not a huge fan of the bars running on either side of the split, but again, I think that’s what makes this cover pretty distinctive and memorable. I can see a teen asking for this book by asking for the book with elements of this cover (i.e., it’s red and white, kind of like it’s a reflected image and there are a lot of black lines). I dig how the tag line, “Some debts cannot be repaid,” is right in the middle of the cover, splitting it in two. I also think it’s just a nice tag line, even if it’s not particularly memorable nor telling of the story inside. It’s catchy.
The paperback, on the other hand, looks like a dystopian novel and that is one of the big things that works both in its favor and against it. This book looks like a lot of other books out there, and for teens who love that genre, this will be what they’re looking for. The redesign also features a blurb quite prominently, and that blurb from Marie Lu is pretty smart — readers who like Lu’s books will likely want to try London’s series. I think it was smart to carry over the same color palette to the new design, though the use of a cityscape for the driving image here isn’t particularly memorable (a teen comes to the reference desk asking for the book with a city on the cover is going to yield too many results). I find the placement of the tag line and how it’s in two different sized fonts to be a little unsettling and I think it overwhelms the cover. For some reason, the period there bothers me a lot. It’s not there in the hardcover, and it looks out of place. Why is “some debts” so much bigger than “cannot be repaid?” I’ll also say that the font for the title isn’t my favorite. The lack of a center for the P, the R, and O makes it feel uneven.
Again, neither cover is terrible but neither knocks it out of the park. Proxy will be available in paperback on May 1, 2014. The second book in London’s series, Guardian, will follow in line with the design in the paperback makeover.
Here is a series for younger teen readers that’s getting an entire facelift:
If ever a series needed a redesign — one that would bring unity and cohesion to the series itself — it’s John Feinstein’s sports mystery series. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not even sure I’ve collected the original cover images on the left. I know I have in some cases, but I feel like I’ve seen other covers for these books, too. For readers who might not be familiar with this series, it’s a really good choice for those who like sports books or mysteries, and it’s a good choice for readers (or parents) who are concerned about content. It’s not written down and because it’s a series, it’s a way to get readers who might be a little more reluctant to get hooked and keep reading. The catalog calls this a series for readers 10 and older, but in every library I’ve worked in, it’s been shelved in YA. It’s fine for younger readers, but I think the prime audience is that 12-16 or so range.
I’m a huge fan of the redesign, as I think it nicely unifies all of the books in the series while also making it clear they’re about different sports. While we get that from the other designs, what we don’t know from the other covers is that these books all go together and that they’re a series. There’s not anything unifying them in their looks. The new covers are very clean and crisp, with just a minimal amount of coloring. What’s interesting, too, and what I think is maybe smart is that because the players on the new covers aren’t easily identifiable, they look ageless, if not older than teens themselves. That can be a big factor of appeal for a lot of readers, who may feel like they’re reading much older books.
This series redesign/rebranding is a big win in my book. John Feinstein’s books will be available in their new looks on August 5, 2014. If you’ve had this series languishing on your shelves, I would consider springing for the series again with their new look. I bet it’ll spark new interest — plus, it just looks really good.
Let’s round out this post on a cover redesign I’m not entirely sold on because I’m not sure it nails it in the way that the hardcover does. David Iserson’s Firecracker came out last year, and it’s one of those books I keep meaning to read but haven’t picked up yet. It’s supposed to be a funny story about a girl who is told by her parents she’s being moved from her boarding school to public school. The reviews I’ve read have suggested it’s quirky without being “quirky,” and it’s a fun read. The hardcover nails that feel. I love the fact we don’t see a whole girl, but I do love the fact we see a girl on the cover, and she’s
wearing a bright, fun, and yet really wild collection of clothes. The rocket in her hand is representative of a big element in the story, which is that the main character lives in a rocket ship in her parents backyard. The way the title is angled across the lower half of the cover, along with the somewhat billboard-esque font choice is fun and eye-catching, and Iserson’s name also stands out because it’s angled and done in a contrasting font. Everything This is a bright, fun cover that is super eye catching because it’s so different and yet, it’s really not that different at all. The slighter things — her clothes, the rocket ship, the font and layout — are what make it stand out.
The paperback for Firecracker is boring. It lacks the life and verve that the hardcover has, and I think it’s because it’s sort of a lifeless pink, with a lifeless — and faceless — girl in the middle. It feels like they were going for a design that mirrored the hot and trendy illustration wave, but in doing so, they removed the fun from the cover. Even the title placement and the font used is dull. If anything, this book will have a much better appeal to adult readers than to teens, which might be the point since, like with the paperback, it’s noted that Iserson’s a writer for New Girl and SNL (both are shows I think that appeal to the 20-something audience more than the teen audience). This cover makes me miss the spunky girl on the original quite a bit, since this girl…she’s got a loose tie and no face and thus, no expression whatsoever.
Hardcover wins this round without question, and in fact, every time I see that hardcover I’m reminded how much I want to pick up and read this book. Firecracker will be available in paperback June 12, 2014.
What do you think? Which cover redesigns here are winners and which ones aren’t going to be making the most memorable list?