It’s a new year, and with that comes another round of cover makeovers, many of which are books that came out in hardcover last year. I’ve pulled together just a few of the changes I’ve seen popping up and I’ve saved a pile more for future posts.
Some of these redesigns in paperback are winners and some of them don’t seem to change much about the hardcover. In some instances, maybe the hardcover is all together better. One of the more interesting trends I’ve noticed is where the hardcover was unique — either a design or completely font-driven — and the paperback makeover turns into a stock photo of a girl. It makes the paperbacks blend together, as it’s hard to sometimes differentiate one girl from another on those covers, whereas a cover that has the title written across it largely or features some other memorable image just stands out more on the shelf and stands out more in my head.
Let’s dig in. As usual, the original hardcovers are on the left and their paperback incarnations are on the right.
Tease by Amanda Maciel came out in hardcover last spring, and the design of this one was really noteworthy. It looks like a gray cover with the title in cursive across it, but in person, it’s extremely shiny. Both the silver-y background and the pink-red title text pop in the treatment of the hardcover design.
The paperback, out April 28, goes in a completely different direction. The title is still the focal point of the cover, though rather than pop like it does on the hardcover, it’s more subdued in white. It’s also in a completely different — and I think less effective — font. Where the hardcover didn’t include the blurb on the front cover (they were on the back), the paperback makes use of the Hopkins blurb at the top left corner. I’m not really inspired by the stock image used here at all. It looks like a million other side-profile girl faces on YA covers. It’s hard for me to tell whether the new look is meant to draw a different audience or not. I can’t figure out whether it’s appealing to teen readers more or less, as the girl herself looks older than a teenager.
The hardcover of Tease is the better cover here, hands down. Neither cover necessarily hints at what’s going on inside the book, though.
Elizabeth Scott’s Heartbeat cover went through a few design tweaks before the final hardcover version appeared. Though it’s a cover of a couple kissing, the way the title is treated makes this one pretty memorable. The design is eye-catching and in thinking about how this book looks face-out on a shelf, it’s really appealing. The hardcover plays into the idea there’s a romance in the book — and there is — even though the romance isn’t the driving force of the novel.
And perhaps that’s the reason for the paperback redesign, due out March 1. The makeover on this one goes to a stock image, and rather than play up the romance, this one plays up the grief aspect of the story. The girl is off-center, and she’s looking off in the distance. Her body language is one that’s sad or longing, and that fits with the story itself. Unlike the hardcover, which did everything in all capital letters, the paperback redesign went with putting everything in all lowercase letters. There’s a certain understatement to that and aesthetically, it’s really appealing. It’s quieter. That said, the paperback is almost forgettable — it’s a girl on the cover with nothing super distinguishing or remarkable about her. It doesn’t feel fresh or new.
This one is tough to call a better cover on in terms of what it tries to tell the reader about the story, but in terms of straight eye-catchiness and memorability the hardcover does it better.
Scholastic has been rolling out redesigned covers for Siobhan Vivian’s backlist, and her first YA novel, A Little Friendly Advice, will be seeing the paperback makeover treatment on shelves March 31.
The hardcover for this one is straightforward and simple. This is a book about friendship and a group of girl friends, and Ruby, the main character, receives a polaroid camera for her 16th birthday. That gift translates onto the hardcover, as each of the girls are depicted in a polaroid image. There’s a nice sense of each personality in the four photos, even though they’re all stock photos. More, all of the girls look like they’re teenagers.
The paperback maintains the feel of the hardcover, but it makes it even fresher. There are still four girls, and they all look quite similar to the original girls. But what really stands out — and what Scholastic’s done with the other redesigns of Vivian’s covers — is that these girls look like they’re 16. Where the girls on the hardcover do look like teens, there’s zero question about the ages of the girls on the paperback. They aren’t wearing styles that are dated, either, meaning that this cover has a long shelf life ahead of it, despite being a cover with people on it. I love, too, that the main character is looking right at the reader.
While I think both covers for A Little Friendly Advice are good, the paperback is a really nice, fresh update of the original. For readers who didn’t pick this one up the first time around, this will be especially appealing and exciting.
I always thought the hardcover of Jon Skovron’s Man Made Boy was pretty great. I love the big Frankenstein hand, and more, I love that it’s holding the title of the book itself. The font for the title is made up of circuitry, and I think the heart in place of an “O” was a clever touch. There’s no need to talk boy book or girl book, but this book cover definitely has a masculine feel to it, and I think with that feel, there’s appeal to guy readers especially. This cover, faced out, should go. Even with a heart on it. The heart is malfunctioning anyway.
But the paperback for Man Made Boy, due out July 7, takes what the hardcover does well and amps it up even more. In a lot of ways, this cover feels powerful because it’s so understated. Where the hardcover is a bit loud, but packed with fun detail, the paperback is one cohesive image. More, though, I love how this cover undermines gender. We get that in the hardcover with the heart, but in the paperback, we get it because the image replicates doll pieces (do those push-out dolls still exist today?). Interestingly, the paperback ditches the big John Corey Whaley blurb in honor of a tag line, and it’s much more effective and useful to me as a reader — “A boy among monsters, a monster among people — a hero above all.” I know what this story is going to be about more with that than I do praise for the story.
Also interesting: the author is introduced to readers as the author of This Broken Wondrous World, which is the sequel to Man Made Boy and also features a similar cover treatment . . . but publishes nearly a month after the paperback is released. Maybe that’s a placeholder, but if it isn’t, that seems weird to be advertising an author by a book not yet published.
Both of these covers are pretty good, but because the sequel is going with a similar look to the paperback, maybe the paperback is a winner for cohesiveness.
Here’s a much-needed, very well-done, and memorable cover change for 21 Proms, an older anthology of short stories by 21 authors. The original cover on the left isn’t bad at all. It gets right to the point of the book: these are stories about prom. The authors on the cover include all contributors, rather than just the biggest, most well-known names (at the time — this book published in 2007). It’s a stock image, and the tag line fits for the collection.
The redesign, which came out December 31, does in a bit of a different direction but without sacrificing the feel of the original or getting away from the purpose of the anthology. The cover, which is an illustration, highlights the stories within the anthology. You don’t just see heterosexual couples represented here — there are multiple gay couples, as well as a lesbian couple, as well as individuals who are without a partner, as well as groups. There’s a nice range of representation on the cover, which is fitting with the content itself. One interesting and noteworthy change, though, is that because of how the illustration takes up so much of the cover, the author listing has been pared down greatly to just the biggest, most recognizable names in YA. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s an interesting change nonetheless.
The paperback for 21 Proms is a winner here. It’s fresh, it’s contemporary, and it’ll give life to this anthology for another generation of teen readers and prom story enthusiasts.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the cover for Lucy Christopher’s The Killing Woods when it came out last year. It’s not a bad cover by any means, but it’s kind of forgettable amid a ton of YA book covers featuring a shadowy person running through the woods. The tag line was kind of interesting, especially because it got to what was really going on in the story itself. This wasn’t so much a book about woods which were deadly, but rather, about the deadly games played in the woods.
The paperback redesign, which came out December 31, changes the cover quite a bit, while still maintaining a sense of foreboding to it. We’ve got the woods in the background, but rather than being blue, they’ve been made into a deep red color. And rather than feature a haunting moon, there’s a bird on a branch — keeping with the fact birds are a hot cover feature, this isn’t too surprising, even though it doesn’t play a role in the story. What the redesign does that I love, though, is the title font. If anything, the new font is what gives this cover the sense of fear to it. I’m an even bigger fan of the typerwriter font for Christopher’s name.
While neither cover knocks it out of the park, I think the paperback is a little more my taste. In terms of audience appeal, this is a tough one. The hardcover mimics a lot of adult thrillers in how it looks, which could be a draw for teen and adult readers. The paperback is quieter and more “literary,” which almost makes it feel like it’s reaching for more adult readers, rather than teen readers.
I’m less interested in talking about the paperback redesign for Miranda Kenneally’s Breathe, Annie, Breathe than I am about the fact this is the fourth incarnation of this book’s cover. The hardcover, on the left, came about after two previous designs were nixed after being revealed. Here’s what the two original-but-ditched hardcover designs:
After seeing so many designs of this one, my mind is muddled with which is the real one and which isn’t the real one. I wonder if that’s part of what drove the decision to choose yet another design for the paperback? If anything, though, the final paperback look fits with the look that the rest of the very loose “Hundred Oaks” series has going for it, with romance being what the driving image force is. If it hadn’t been redesigned, it would have been the only book that was just a girl on the cover.