New catalog season on Edelweiss always makes me excited. It’s not just about the new books; it’s also about those books that end up getting makeovers from their hardback looks into something fresh in paperback.
I’ve rounded up six recovered YA titles hitting shelves in the next few months that have caught my eye. Some of these are winners and some…well, they should have stuck with the original idea. Perhaps most interesting is something I’ll note at the end of the post. There’s definitely a new trend emerging in YA cover design, and while I think I get the point of it, I’m not sure it’s entirely successful at what it’s attempting to do.
I’d love to hear what you think about these make overs, too. Which ones are great and which ones leave you feeling a little cold? Sound off in the comments and feel free to share any recent cover changes you’ve spotted that have stood out to you. As always, the hardcover image is on the left, with the paperback iteration on the right.
I picked up Jennifer Longo’s Six Feet Over It last year and talked about it a little bit in a post last fall about the microtrend of the death business in YA fiction. This book runs on the lower end of YA in terms of its voice and appeal, as the main character is a young high schooler, as opposed to the older ones that have become more abundant.
When I first saw the hardcover of this book a couple of years ago, it seemed to me like the model looked photoshopped. I spent a long time looking at it, and then I asked multiple people to explain to me what seemed “off” about this image. Everyone said the same thing: her neck looks really, really long. While people who are tall can have very long necks, the way she’s posed in the picture doesn’t show her height, so she looks strange if she’s not been digitally edited. The placement of the book’s title on the headstone is really creative, but the overall feel of the cover itself is dark and not particularly appealing. I like the use of the blurb on this one, as it’s from Jennifer Holm, suggesting that this is a suitable read for the younger teen set.
The paperback makeover for this one doesn’t really do much for me on a personal level, as I’m becoming really over the illustrated cover trend. However, I think this cover fits the book a million times better. It’s not as dark or foreboding, and it has a tiny bit of tongue-in-cheek humor to it, with the way that the girl is on a headstone that has a cartoon-y skull on it. It’s really appealing and inviting in the way that the original look simply isn’t, and more, it speaks to the bit of dark humor in the book itself. The tag line here actually works better than the blurb does on the hard cover, as it says essentially the same thing to readers, just in different words and a different approach. I do find it interesting that Longo is introduced as the author of Up To This Pointe beneath her name, since that book will publish after Six Feet Over It came out.
For me, the paperback is a winner here, even though it’s not my personal taste. It will hit shelves January 12.
Ellen Hopkins was always a go-to for me for readers seeking a good, fast-paced, edgy, dark, realistic YA book at the library. And for a long time, her packaging was brilliant — the books were shorter and fatter than most, and they were easily recognizable on the shelf.
But something happened and all of her work got a redesign to it, making the trim more in line with standard YA trade paperbacks, rather than they had been. The redesign meant a new marketing look, but somewhere in there, it just got really lost.
I’m not sure how I feel about the hardcover for Rumble, as it tries to blend the original Hopkins cover looks with the new one, and I’m not sure it entirely succeeds. But compared to the paperback, which has absolutely zero connection to Hopkins branding….it’s worlds better. The paperback looks really cheap and uninspired, and since it stands apart from all of her other books, I’m not sure it’s going to draw in long-time fans nor engage potential new readers. In many ways, the paperback looks more middle grade than it does upper YA, which is actually a bit of a problem, since her books aren’t aimed at that audience in any capacity.
Who is that stick figure? Why is the font for the title so thin? How come we don’t have the signature look of Hopkins name on the redesign? This looks so flimsy and forgettable in a way that Hopkins and her work simply are not. I have a hard time imagining a teen — or any reader, really! — looking at this cover and thinking it’ll be an intense, dark, gritty read. It looks sad.
Part of me hopes this isn’t a real paperback redesign and it’s instead a mistake that got out. It’d be a real shame to see these books get this sort of treatment because it weakens the work and absolutely weakens the appeal of the way these books look. Cover art and design is really important, especially when it comes to reader’s advisory and connecting the right book to the right reader. This cover is doing this book zero favors.
The hardcover is the winner here by leaps and bounds, even though it’s not spectacular itself. The paperback hits shelves February 2 and I really hope they reconsider this look.
Rachel DeWoskin’s Blind cover is doing something that differs in the redesign than all of the rest of the covers in this batch of makeovers: it adds a model to it. The original hardcover is pretty stark — it’s black, with a title that drives the cover, even though the title itself isn’t full. It’s an unfilled set of letters. Above it are the braille designations and the simple tag line “What do you see when your world goes dark?” You know immediately what the book is about, and the tag line further amplifies that this is a story about a blind character.
The redesigned cover brings a model into the picture. Notice on all of the other cover redesigns in this post, that the human models have been removed. The redesigns are moving more towards using an image-driven, people-less look or they’re using illustrations to render an individual. Not so in this case: but it also really works here, as this particular redesign tells us even more about the story than the original hardcover. We know it’s a girl who is blind, and we know that it might have something to do with fireworks, based on the font used for the title (and spoiler, it’s a firework that causes her to lose her sight). The tag line remains the same, but I think here it’s even more effective.
While both of these are solid covers that fit the story, I suspect that the paperback might have a tiny bit more appeal. Or, at least, gives readers even more insight into what the book’s about. The paperback edition of Blind will hit shelves April 5.
Maybe it’s because I read a little bit in an echo chamber, but wasn’t Skink No Surrender supposed to be a really huge book a couple of years ago? I can’t remember seeing a whole lot about it, other than it’s a title by Hiassen and he’s popular without additional significant hype.
This redesign is really fascinating to me because it definitely feels like the intended audience for this book is being shifted. The hardcover features handcuffs — so you know there’s a crime story here — and you get a tag line that reads “A missing girl, a hungry gator, only one way out…” The title font is what drives the image, and the white-on-red makes it really pop. This cover isn’t spectacular, but it stands out quite a bit from other YA titles since it’s so simple.
The paperback edition of Skink is so different and feels like it’s trying to reach an adult, rather than YA, readership. Or perhaps this cover is really aimed at those adults who read YA and are familiar with Hiassen. Look at the pull quote — rather than make use of the tag line, this one pulls out a review from Time, which calls Hiassen a master of Florida crime fiction. Is that something teenagers care about at all? Adults, on the other hand, will know what that means.
But the thing that’s most interesting to me in the redesign is how the title looks. Where the hardcover tells you the title is Skink No Surrender, the paperback redesign looks as though the title is Skink with the “No Surrender” being almost a tag line within the life raft. This particular redesign looks in line with his adult novels, while the original hardcover looks in line with his middle grade novels.
There’s not one that does it better here. Both elicit about the same reaction from me, but I think that’s because they seem to be serving different readerships. You can snag the paperback December 1.
The redesign of Kate Hattemer’s The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy might be my favorite of the bunch, which is saying quite a bit since I don’t dislike the original look, either. I think that the hardcover is pretty appealing, especially as it has two teen boys featured on the cover in a way that makes them look like your average (art school) boys. The font drives the cover and I think the choices used in mixing the fonts really works. Likewise, the green on yellow color scheme is memorable to me, since I can’t say I see it frequently in YA. Maybe by some eyes it might look a little dated, but I don’t see it.
The paperback, though, I love. I love everything that it says — this is a book about art kids. But it’s a book about art kids that’s not necessarily traditional and that might be quite funny. I get that from the scissors cutting the string there, along with the mustache drawn on the figure’s face. I will say I’m not super keen on the title font treatment, as that thin wispy look just feels weak. And interestingly, there’s been an added tag line to the redesign, which reads “can four best friends, a manikin, and a heroic gerbil save Selwyn?” I find that particular tag line intriguing because what does a heroic gerbil have to do with this?
You can grab the paperback edition, which I think edges out the look of the hardcover, on March 8.
Finally, I don’t want to talk too much about the redesign of Charlie Price’s Dead Girl Moon aside from noting that this is another interesting example of new covers moving away from having anything resembling a real human model on the cover. Both covers convey the mystery here without much problem, though their color schemes and their execution of design differ.
Also interesting to me is that there’s been a pretty sizable chunk of time between the hardcover’s initial release — October 30, 2012 — and when the paperback will hit shelves — October 20, 2015. Generally, though not always, paperbacks tend to hit shelves about a year after their hardcovers come out. This can change depending upon a number of things, including a book’s popularity. That’s why books like Fangirl and The Fault in Our Stars had a good chunk of time between their hardcover edition and paperback. While I had a copy of Dead Girl Moon when it originally came out, I’m curious about the story here. Did it sell really well? Or, as I suspect the case may be, is the market right now a little bit stronger for these types of stories, so the holdup was to make sure it’d hit at the right time? That’s a question that may never be answered.
Both covers are fine, but again, the removal of actual people and models in this batch of redesigns really strikes me as noteworthy.