It’s time for another round of YA cover makeovers. As usual, some of these are great redesigns, some are not so great, and some make you wonder why they were being changed at all. I’d love to know what you think of the covers, either the original or the redesign, in the comments, and if you have seen other recent changes worth noting, lay ’em in the comments, too. Original designs are on the left, and the paperback redesign is on the right.
Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth has undergone a pretty dramatic transformation. The original cover was entirely illustrative, and it was quite clear that the book had something to do with Hamlet. There’s Yorick there, as well as an image of the crown above the word “Hamlet,” and the spotlight gives a good indication it has something to do with theater. It’s a cute cover, though perhaps reads a little bit young. Yet, I can imagine the teens who see this being excited by it because they know exactly what it is they’re getting into.
The paperback redesign of this cover, though, didn’t strike me as YA when I first saw it. It reminded me of a romance novel, and that’s precisely why I stopped and looked at it more closely. This cover is very clever, incorporating parts of the original cover design into the new look. We have Yorick still, as well as the crown. We also have a font which, if not exactly the same, is really close to being the same. But the changes: we have a boy and a girl who are back to back. From afar, it looks like there are handcuffs, but upon a closer look, it’s clear each is holding their own hands and they’re hovering near the sword. This is a weird image, for sure, and while it’ll certainly appeal to readers seeking a romance, I’m not sure it hits the same demographic as the original cover. The new design also incorporates a tag line that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense without context: “Shakespeare gets real.” Was Shakespeare not real before? I can’t say I get it not having read the book.
Neither cover is better or worse. They cater to wildly different readerships. Saving Hamlet will hit shelves in paperback on November 7.
I kind of hated the original cover for Anna Banks’s Nemesis and I can say that I hate the paperback a little bit less. The original features a stone-faced girl and a color scheme that could only be described as bland. The only feature that stands out is her blonde hair, which tells me absolutely nothing about the book except that there’s a white girl at the center of the story. The tag line at the top, “She didn’t expect to fall in love — with her nemesis” only adds more to the nothing factor of the cover. It sounds like every other fantasy or dystopian novel tag line. It’s frustrating to not get a ready on genre at all, as I can’t tell who this book would be great for.
The paperback, which will be released October 3, isn’t hugely better in terms of giving a genre read, but from a design perspective, it’s worlds better. It looks, I think, a little more science fiction than fantasy, but that may be from the font alone — I can’t place it, but I’ve definitely seen that look for an author’s name. What this cover improves, though, is on color: we have at least a little bit. There’s also a nice sheen to the image in the center, and the girl on it is less easy to identify. The dropping of the tag line is also an improvement.
I don’t love either cover, but the paperback is much better, if for no reason other than it looks like it could be shelved alongside a bunch of other similar books for readers to pick up and know whether or not it is for them.
The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely came out last fall and it didn’t seem to land as loudly as it should have, given that Kiely had gained a significant amount of acclaim in his work with Jason Reynolds in American Boys. The cover for The Last True Love Story, however, is pretty quiet. It’s clear it’s a giant sky with movement, and the font itself sort of mirrors the look. It reads contemporary love story to me, though beyond the title, little exactly says that. . . and little indication of what is really inside the book. This is an example of a font-driven title that does the job of explaining the story but that doesn’t add much to the design itself.
The paperback, which just hit shelves, tells a little bit more. What’s interesting is how much it looks like a movie still: we see a girl who looks lost, we see the dreamy lights behind her, and then that’s mirrored by the dreamy motion and lights of the ferris wheel below. Brendan’s name has been moved from below the title to above, likely being the bigger selling feature than the title, and interestingly, the blurb from Julie Murphy takes up far more real estate on paperback than it did on the hard cover. Toning down the font for the title does the cover service, too. It’s not perfect, but this one screams mature, dreamy YA love story in a way the original doesn’t. The original nails YA love story but less of the “mature” and “dreamy” aspects. I’m really digging the buttery-yellow color for the author name, too — there’s a shade of yellow I’ve not seen much on YA books and adds to that dreamy feel.
My own reader tastes would pick up the paperback before the hard cover edition, but I can see the appeal for both. I think they hit the same readership, though they tell different stories.
Dust of 100 Dogs by AS King came out many years ago from Flux as a paperback original. This was King’s first book and one that doesn’t seem to get the same kind of talk or attention as her subsequent titles. It’s a pretty cool cover, focusing on three colors, a unique font design, and using the negative space really well.
King’s first book is being reissued on October 3 through Speak, an imprint of Penguin, which is where she’s now being published. The choice in reissuing is a smart one, given that she’s grown her audience since this book, and the designers were clever in making the new edition look really similar to the previous ones. The font is very close to being the same, though her name has been made white and more standard looking. There is now a list of acclaims beside her name, and a blurb from the New York Times. If you’re curious why they didn’t just keep the original design, my guess would be that it was copyrighted by the designer and/or house, so getting rights for that would be challenging. But the way they managed to keep it so similar, just using different pieces, is pretty impressive.
While I prefer the original cover, I’ve got no qualms with the reissue. I think the similarity is clever. I only wish that our girl was wearing something on her body in the new edition. Her boots blend in a little too much. (Also, look at how she went from knee-high heeled boots to less-high combat-style boots).
Here is the cover design baffling me the most out of the ones here. Krystal Sutherland’s Our Chemical Hearts hit shelves last fall with a cover that was super fresh and unique. I love the blue-hued fish and the way the font plays with the fish shapes. There’s a cool three dimensional effect, and it’s just so different. Does it say anything about the story? Absolutely not. This is a book about first love, but from that cover, you’d never know. And yet, the cover is cool and fresh enough to encourage readers to pick it up to find out what it could possibly be about. Fish? Maybe romance…but fish?
The paperback edition of the book, which hit shelves earlier this month, continues to tell us nothing about the story. It’s pretty, sure sure, but the choice in all lowercase letters for the title and author name is odd. This is a very bright and fun cover that achieves an effect of being just that. The blurbs for this book call it “John Green meets Rainbow Rowell” — we’re still not past that lazy and useless description — but the book doesn’t look like it would belong in the hands of fans of either of those authors. Working in favor of this cover over the original, though, is the blurb on top, as we know it’s a story about first love.
It also reminds me a lot of Natalie C. Parker’s forthcoming anthology Three Sides of a Heart.
Verdict? I really like the design and feel of both covers, yet neither one seems to fit the book. Either would stand out on a display but how would you know who to hand it to?
What do you think? Do you prefer any of these covers? Lay your opinions and thoughts in the comments.