It seems like cover changes are roaring back. For a while, it could take a few months to pull together a list of YA books seeing redesigned covers in their paperback edition. But now, I’ve had no problem pulling together a huge list of titles seeing new looks.
As always, some of these covers are strong redesigns while others aren’t quite as strong as their original packaging. What seems to be most interesting in many of the redesigns collected here, though, is how much they’ve all sort of take on similar design elements with what seems to be an eye toward reaching adult readers more than teen readers.
Let’s take a peek. Love one of these? Dislike one of these? Seen other redesigns lately that are worth looking at? I’d love to hear about those things in the comments.
Original hardcover designs are on the left, and new paperback editions are on the right.
After The Fall by Kate Hart’s original cover reminded me of many other YA covers, including Stephanie Kuehn’s latest, When I Am Through With You. What made it stand out to me was the color choice: it’s really pleasing to the eye, but more than that, it really captures the mood of the story. It’s clear that this book has to do with something related to being outdoors (it does) and the reddened sky suggests something ominous happens (it does). The tag line for the original hardcover reads “The truth isn’t always what you expect.” I can’t say that adds a whole lot to either the title or the cover. It’s a true statement, but that offers little insight into the book itself. The font for the title is eye-catching and the way it’s spread over the entire cover is pretty appealing.
“Sometimes there’s no one to catch you” is the new tag line for the paperback edition and it’s much stronger and more insightful into what the book is actually about than the original. The paperback also suggests even more of an outdoors feel to the book, and it, too, still gives that subtle hint of something ominous lurking in the background with the color palette. It’s interesting that the font for the title goes in the complete opposite direction for this one: it’s really narrow and centered on the cover. I might be alone in this, but I think flipping “Fall” to be upside down is a bit cheesy, given the sort of feel the rest of the cover has — almost like the cover can’t be too series, even though the book itself is serious. This one screams “set in Arkansas” for me more than the original. This cover feels a little more angled toward adult readers than the original, if for no reason than it has a much more polished feel to it (save for that cheesy flipped word factor).
Both covers do the job, though I think the paperback is a little more unique and catered to the book itself. The tag line is definitely stronger. After the Fall hits shelves in paperback on January 23.
Marie Marquardt’s Dream Things True in hardcover is really bright and refreshing. Like many other YA books in the last few years, this one is driven by the title font, and in this case, it works well. The letters are bold and bright, and the font itself is unique and yet easy to read — sometimes fonts this big and bold can be tough on the eyes. The decision to make the “E” and the “A” in Dream different colors does draw attention to them, but it’s a little odd since there’s no understandable reason for the choice. The rest of the letters don’t have an ombre effect to them to the same depth, so those seem to stand out unnecessarily.
The couple in the bottom left-hand corner of this cover is interesting: he’s a little cold toward her reception. She looks like she’s quite engaged with him. As individuals, they’re a little challenging to see on screen, but in person, it’s very obvious he’s white and but her skin color is a little less obvious. She is either very tan or light brown.
I point the couple out specifically because in the paperback redesign, the couple is very easy to read on screen. She’s definitely brown and he’s definitely white. And more, they’re both walking away from one another, with nothing but their hands lingering together, as if they know the decision they’ve made as a couple is the right one for them. Although I’m generally not a fan of illustrated covers (more on that down below), in this particular case, with the right color combination, it works. The font choice for this edition is much less bold in terms of style, but the red on yellow makes it really pop. The script style of the font is easy enough to read, too, even with the sunbeams radiating through it. The use of a strip of blue stars on the left-hand side of the cover is clever, particularly when you consider how the couple is staged between the day and the night of the cover. This cover is much more mature than the hardcover and likely will appeal to more adult readers than the original.
But more than that, the fact you know immediately that this is a book about an interracial couple is what makes the paperback really stand out. Dream Things True is out in paperback on February 20.
An example of a book cover which really tells you nothing is The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles in hardcover. It is literally a script-like font, with white text on a white background, and it’s quite hard to read: there’s a line under the “ed” of edge which tries to mirror the dash needed in the breaking up of the word everything and that ends up being really confusing to the eye. If we’re thinking about how covers look on screen — which is likely a huge factor in why we’re seeing more covers which focus on font-driven cover design — this one doesn’t really work. It tries to do too much.
The flames around the title are equally confusing. They look really fake, making me question whether they really are flames or not. More, I cannot figure out what is going on about the “h” in thing — is that a person? Why are they trying to look over the “e” in every? Is it to see the person who is hanging out over the “h” in the? And what about the little person below the “h” in thing? The longer I look at this, the more confused I get. If the focus is the edge of everything, shouldn’t the little people be standing on one of those letters looking down off the edge?
Bonus points for a James Dashner quote.
Although the paperback edition of the book doesn’t really tell you much about what it’s about, it’s definitely stronger and more pleasing to the eye. The title font is easy to read, and it chooses to be clever by being in all lowercase letters; that’s a decision that works for the eye. There’s a little bit of a magical quality to the color choices and billowy smoke behind the title, which fits with the fantasy genre of the book. That isn’t a bad thing and rather, encourages some intrigue into what the book might be about. The Dashner quote is gone, replaced by two book reviews which tell you nothing about the book (three words with tons of ellipses and a tiny little phrase don’t really offer insight except that some critics read the book) and there’s now a tag line: “For the perfect love, what would you be willing to lost?” It’s not perfect but it gives some context to the cover design in a way that the little people around the big font on the hardcover simply don’t.
Paperback all the way for this one. You can pick up The Edge of Everything in paperback June 5.
Each of Emery Lord’s YA books have been seeing new looks in paperback, and Open Road Summer is no different. The hardcover for this one isn’t especially noteworthy except for the fact it looks like every other romantic YA book which came out around the same time: a glowy, dreamy sun flare around a couple. This one is set in an open field, perhaps to really hammer home the summer setting. The font for the title takes up a little more than half the real estate and relies on some strange sizing to make work: Open and Road are uneven, with the “O” of open not being left-aligned like the “R” in road. Perhaps an issue of kearning and tracking? Summer isn’t the same size and it definitely looks like it was squished to fit. The longer I look at how the letters don’t line up on the left edge of the cover, the more my eyes are bothered.
The hardcover also has a small blurb from Elizabeth Eulberg in the top left-hand corner, which fills some of the empty space from the field behind.
There is a lot to like about the paperback redesign, even though it, too, is another illustrated cover. The title, set in the middle of the cover, is really eye-catching, and the decision to use two fonts is not just clever, but it allows for all three words to take up the same amount of space, rather than forcing a fit that doesn’t quite work. The color scheme here mirrors some of what goes on in the hardcover edition, though it’s brighter and less stuck in a particular time, place, and era (which is the problem with models on covers — they can be dated quickly by style). Unlike many other covers that have taken the illustrated route, this particular cover seems to track younger, rather than toward an adult readership.
Buried way down at the bottom of the redesign, there’s a tag line: “Your heart will lead you home…” Yes, those scare ellipses are included.
Although there’s nothing bad about the hardcover, the paperback for this one feels a little stronger, a little fresher, and a little more timeless. It also “matches” the other redesigns of Lord’s books. Open Road Summer will have its new paperback design available on March 6.
The Truth of Right Now by Kara Lee Corthron was one of the most underrated YA reads of 2017. In a year where books like The Hate U Give exploded on the scene, this one should have, too, but it didn’t. And try as I encouraged people to read it, so few did; those who did read it ended up being really glad they did.
Which, when I look at the original hardcover, I wonder if it didn’t click for readers on the shelf as something they’d want to pick up.
The hardcover features two people — a girl and a guy — on a subway. It’s entirely sketch, with very little color. That sketchiness is, I think, the power of that particular cover. The font for the title and the author’s name (which does a weird thing in being uneven in size) look like they’ve been designed in crayon, which only makes the sketchy nature of the cover stronger. This hardcover really pops for me because it’s so different, and it really reflects the story itself. But, I can also see where the feeling of being unfinished and raw is exactly what turned readers off from picking this up.
But the paperback!
This is a gorgeous image of New York City, which is where the novel is set. The image is so eye-appealing, and it manages to tell a whole lot of story with very little. The centering of the image across a walkway and stacking of the font above it creates all kinds of pretty lines without trying too hard to do just that. It feels like a spring day, but what really makes it work is the fact that it’s not necessarily sunny: there’s a bit of a foggy sheen to the sky, making everything pop against that. I don’t actually think that this cover tells you much about the book, especially not when it’s compared to the hardcover, but it’s so damn pretty that it’ll make readers at least look at the jacket copy.
No blurbs or tag lines on either cover. In a lot of ways, that in itself is unique.
The Truth of Right Now hit shelves in paperback on January 2, so you can pick it up now.
When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore was a National Book Award finalist and the original hardcover design of this is utterly dreamy. The font for the title uses a nice combination of script-like letters with more standard fonts, giving it something special without sacrificing the readability. The gold against the black is easy to read, and the slight incorporation of flowers with the two main characters is clever and evokes a fantastical feel. More, what really makes this cover unique is that it feels like it’s a stage. We’re seeing the whole set along with the performers — there are the moons handing, the stage is the water tower, and the lights have been dimmed to make their stories shine. Written in tiny letters below the word Ours is a blurb from Laura Ruby.
This cover appeals to so many readers and more, tells those readers exactly the sort of feel to expect from it. It’s magical and dreamy.
Enter the paperback.
I mentioned earlier that I mostly dislike illustrated covers, and this is a perfect example of why. The magic is gone. This cover is super generic, with a color palette that does nothing especially interesting except blend it into the other generic illustrated covers. The giant moon in the middle of the cover looks more like a sun drowning in an ocean, and more, the fact that the moon is taking over the bottom of the letters in the is really harsh on the eyes. The choice to not capitalize the “t” in the is also jarring — the font for the title is already so insubstantial that the word follows the moon-sun in drowning in a sea of blue. The script for the Booklist review is nearly impossible to read on screen. The choice blurb there tells you nothing, either: “Lovely, necessary, and true” doesn’t give any insight into the book, which is a real shame with a cover that also offers nothing.
Everything that made the hardcover a special cover is gone with this one. There’s no magic. No hint of what the book’s about. No invitation to the reader to pick it up and enjoy. It’s generic. It’s boring. And it offers no hint of who the audience it’ll reach.
When The Moon Was Ours hits shelves in paperback February 13. But maybe skip it and seek out the hardcover instead.