We all know a cover can make or break a book. Sometimes, a cover will make the story read younger or older than intended and sometimes, it’ll be spot on. A recent trend, though, has been changing the hard cover cover when a book goes to paperback. If you’re a regular reader over at Alea’s blog, she does a regular hardcover vs paperback feature, and it’s something that always interests me. Sometimes the changes are obvious and make sense and other times, I don’t get it at all.
Here’s a few I’ve noticed recently in the YA world that are both exciting me and confusing me greatly.
Sarah Dessen’s Along for the Ride in hard cover. I like this cover — it’s simple, yet it does pretty much capture the story right there. But, you know, it had to be redesigned for paper back release. This will be a shocking change.
Auden is now wearing a red dress. I don’t get it. I will admit that I think Auden is more of a red dress kinda girl than a pink dress kinda girl, but why the change for the paperback? Composition wise, I actually think pink was a better choice, as it didn’t overwhelm the cover in red.
Next up, a cover change I quite like and one I think will resonate with readers a little more.
Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler has the title trend I kind of hate, which is the trilogy of “things” in a row. Cover wise, this one doesn’t really grab me at all. The wolf looks like a nice dog, actually.
But this paperback? This is fantastic. I love the fact nature is the huge force in the cover, and I think that the girl being barefoot in the water really captures a sense of fear. The title font works, as do the different colors. There is an entirely different feel to this book, and it actually compels me to pick it up more than the other one (which looks a little too much like every other paranormal book, as the girl suffers windswept hair syndrome).
Here’s a cover I’ve talked about before. I like this cover, but it’s nothing too special. I’m not sure quite how much it conveys the story nor the tone of the story (which is pretty light-hearted). This one’s had a bit of a makeover, too.
It’s not bad, but it falls into yet another cover trend which is the orange cover. I love the color, but I think the impact has worn out a bit. The coffee mug with the heart in cream has been done a few times, as well. But what I do like here are the arms and the blue shirt sleeves against the orange. And the font works really well, too. This cover feels more light-hearted than the hard cover.
I love the cover of Julie Halpern’s Into the Wild Nerd Yonder and liked the story quite a bit (minus the fact the main character totally back tracks on her belief in not judging/changing people in the end). The image here works well, as it captures both the Ren fair idea and the role that Dungeons and Dragons plays in the story. The pink also really captures the mood and makes the story feel contemporary. Note the tag line: My life on the dork side.
But then they went and did this to the paperback:
I hate, hate, hate the change, both as a reader and as a librarian. First, it’s a horrific combination of colors that does nothing but go back to the idea that books are dated and old and not cool. It’s a weird yellow shade and the font and color selection for the title screams 1970s. Don’t get me started on the dorky clothing, either. The people in this story are not DORKS in that sense. They’re geeks — they like to play role playing games and go to Ren Fairs, which does not mean they dress like people who haven’t seen a mirror. This plays into some pretty ridiculous stereotypes I don’t like at all. And please note: the tag line now reads “High school on the dork side.” There’s just such a lower level of appeal to this cover, and it’s really unfortunate how much a disservice it does to potential readers. It tries way too hard.
While we’re on cover changes that don’t work for me, here’s another one.
I love the cover for Dirty Little Secrets by CJ Omololu. I think Lucy’s captured pretty well, and you just feel like you’re stepping into a story about hoarding and about broken promises and dreams. A book about a dirty secret. The cover has an immediacy and contemporary feel. It works for me as a reader.
But the paperback seems to suffer from the dating issue. This book reminds me of books from the 1980s. And actually, for some reason it reminds me of the original Babysitter’s Club book covers. I hate the font on the title, since it definitely dates it, and I just don’t find myself connecting with the girl on the cover. It makes the story feel like the story is about her secret, when really, it’s not a book about her secret. And the background within the key hole looks way too clean. Frankly, I don’t think she’s got much of a secret here, no less a dirty one. The paper back doesn’t work for me at all.
You know why I love the cover for Matthew Quick’s Sorta Like A Rock Star? It’s quiet. It’s not really a stand out kinda cover. And this is important — this isn’t the kinda story that needs a loud cover to grab a reader’s attention. The story does it all on its own. There’s enough mystery in just the title and the shadowy girl in the background to invite readers into the story.
I’m of mixed opinion about the paper back. First, I dig the reddish pink cover. I dig the font and title placement. Know what I hate? Hair-in-her-face girl. This isn’t a story about a rock star. That is a bit misleading. Also, she’s far too pretty. She’s dressed far too well to be the person in the story, too. I think this cover is a little too flashy for the story and might be the ultimate disappointment for readers expecting a much louder, more rock star-esque story.
One more! This one I share because I love how the cover change to this particular book lets it work for two entirely different audiences (in a good way).
Tanita Davis’s Mare’s War has such a great middle grade cover. I love that it features the fact the girls and the grandmother in the story who are African American are depicted as such on the cover. But here’s the thing: this cover doesn’t work for older readers. This book works easily for an 11-18 year old audience, but the cover appeal is geared younger. But oh, what an awesome thing they did for the paperback:
Is this not gorgeous? It gets to the badassness that the story portrays in the grandmother, while it also has incredible appeal and respect for what she was doing in the story. This is also not a black girl on a cover who has been Photoshopped to look white (which happens far more than anyone would admit). This book cover has appeal for older readers in particular. I love that the transformation in this one doesn’t change the story but instead opens it to a wider audience.
Thoughts? This is obviously just a small sample of some of the cover changes that have happened recently, but they’re all ones that really struck me as meaningful in one way or another.