Friday 13 July 2012

The Great Book Cover Debacle

I am perplexed as to why the decision is made to redesign the book covers of a series part way through said series and this is something that continues to piss me off, quite frankly.  I HATE when my books don't match but I'll be damned if I'm going to pay AGAIN for a book I already have.  I already spend too much money on books as it is!  From what I can see, despite constant negative feedback from fans/readers, this situation keeps happening.  I understand the need to increase marketing and sales, I really do but sometimes I feel like the person making the decisions just doesn't care or isn't that bothered about what the fans have to say and this makes me sad.  And WE are the people buying the books.

Let's get something straight.  It is NOT the author's fault and I know that.  Often they have little to no say in what the cover will look like and we've all heard the saying "Don't just a book by it's cover" and "It's what's underneath that counts".  YES.  That's entirely true.  Did I refuse to buy the US hardback of Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer when they changed the cover?  No, I didn't because I wanted to continue with the story but I was pissed off about the cover change, especially as the US Arc was BEAUTIFUL. Have a look for yourself...
This is the original US hardback cover for Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.  When I saw it for the first time, I thought it was incredibly beautiful and yes, it drew me into wanting to read the book. 

This is the original US Arc cover for Wolfsbane and everyone thought this was going to be the final US hardback cover BUT someone decided to overhaul the covers and instead we ended up with....

The thing is, I have nothing against these covers but I much preferred the originals and now my books don't match :( 

Let's look at some other examples.  This is the original cover for the US hardback of Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready.  I thought it was striking when I first saw it.

And Shift, the sequel - equally as nice.


THEN, they decided to change the covers completely and this is the final book in the series, Shine.  WHY? WHY? WHY?  The original cover style was lovely, just as it was.     

And another example...

This is the UK original hardback copy of Delirium by Lauren Oliver, which is not unlike the US version and is pretty :) 

Now have a look at the UK original hardback copy of the sequel, Pandemonium.  It does not even remotely look like the same series.  Had I not known, I would have thought this was a standalone by the same author.

This is the original US hardback version of Delirium, which looks different from the ARC but I like it. 

Look at the original US hardback of Pandemonium on the right.  COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.  On the left you will see a "special edition" of Delirium should you wish to purchase it AGAIN so your books match *makes a face*.   I suppose we should be grateful for the option but I'm still frustrated about it. 

 This is the US original hardback of The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.  

This is the sequel to The Mockingbirds and WOW, has it had a cover overhaul which means that now my hardbacks don't match. 

The original UK release of Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel had a beautiful cover treatment AND it was a hardback (BONUS!) so of course I had no reason to think that the sequel would be any different.  WRONG. 

Stolen Night (p.s. why is it not Stolen Nights like the US title?) is completely different and is a paperback ergo the series doesn't match. 

These are the original US paperback covers for Infinite Days which the one on the right not even being released yet BUT someone, somewhere has decided to overhaul the covers and so here are the new ones:

Now, to be fair I actually quite like this cover redesign despite the fact that besides the UK hardback of the first book, I'd also bought the US paperback and now they won't match.  

Another example of a cover overhaul is the UK release of Divergent by Veronica Roth.  

The top left cover of Divergent is the original UK paperback release which pretty much matched the US hardback copy.  The second picture (top right) is the US hardback of Insurgent, the sequel.  Now check out the bottom two pictures after the UK cover makeover for the series.  Personally, I prefer the originals but maybe that's just me, although I do think they're pretty. 

Now we come to the latest cover overhaul and really, the one that inspired this blog post. 

Across the Universe by Beth Revis WAS and STILL IS one of the prettiest book covers I've ever seen.  Period.  I'm of course referring to the original US hardback release as the UK copy was slightly different.  As you can see, A Million Suns (the sequel) was of the same design and still pretty.   What was incredibly awesome about Across the Universe however, was that the book cover was REVERSIBLE (see below) and this is the first time I'd ever seen such a cool concept!


It was recently announced that the books had received a cover overhaul and now they are going to look like this...

I hasten to add that the final book in the series, Shades of Earth (and I'm speaking about the US hardback release) will look like the above.  WTF?  I wouldn't mind if this was the paperback release only but to do this to the hardback?  NO.  JUST NO.  I am BITTERLY DISAPPOINTED about this and am hoping that either they reconsider or they bring out a special book sleeve for it that matches the rest of the series otherwise I'm going to be pissed off for a long time to come.

There are countless examples of cover changes - UK cover changes include Blood Red Road by Moira Young (and don't even get me started on why the sequel title has to be different  here than in the US), Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts, and the Vampire Academy trilogy when they brought out the red cover for the final book in the series so it didn't match.

I don't think there is any answer to this to be honest.  The decision makers know that we're not going to stop buying the book so what do they care if we're annoyed at the cover change? We're still going to buy it.  The thing is, often the cover change is completely unnecessary and is often not better than the original in my opinion (although there are of course exceptions to the rule). 

What do you guys think?  Does anyone care about this besides me?


  1. i want to hug this post, stitch it on a pillow and then mount it on my wall for being so awesome

  2. Rebel Heart has a different US title?! And I second Laura's comment!

  3. Definitely care about this. I have so many series now that don't match and my bookshelves are not as pretty as they could be. With some of the above, the original version seemed so much prettier as well and something I'd be so much more likely to pick up. This is something I shall be bearing in mind as a publisher!

  4. I'm a bit OCD when it comes to book covers. All of the book covers in a series must match on my bookshelf. I understand if they're trying to appeal to a different target market (e.g. Across The Universe series) but they should continue with the original design until the series is done. THEN have a new design from scratch.

  5. Totally agree with this post.. When I saw the new covers for Across The Universe I had a moment where I just sat in disbelief staring at my screen thinking "why do you do this to me??? WHY!!!!!".... lol!

  6. When Holly Black's covers were redesigned before the release of Black Heart, she said that the decision was under taken to entice NEW readers to the series. She said that The original covers have obviously attracted a certain percentage of the target market, and the new covers will hopefully increase that percentage. All well and good.

    But I agree with you, because it seems to me that in the above case, and in many other cases, the readers a series already HAS are taken for granted -- of course they will buy the new book in the mismatching cover because they're already hooked. I feel this is wrong, because I, like many of my friends and family, LOVE having matching books on my shelves.

    It seems that people coming LATE to a series benefit in this regard, rather than fans who discovered and spread the word about a not-so-famous series and got the author to the stage where people are buying the third / fourth / whatever book in a series. I don't mind them changing covers, but they should still make available matching covers for fans who already have a set. In the correct format too (hardback / paperback).

  7. I love this post so much, cover redesigns mid series get me so angry! You would think that publishing people would understand how booklovers feel about these things but sadly they seem not to. I also loathe it when mid series they change format, for example I have all 18 of the Torchwood tie-in novels - the first 15 were all published in hardback and the newest three are in a completely different looking paperback. The tie-in fiction area of my bookcases now looks really odd :(

  8. I love this post & I feel absolutely the same! I HATE it when my books don't match on my shelves. I'm sick to death of feeling like I'm being taken advantage of by publishers who know that book addicts like us will end up re-purchasing the books we've already bought once so that they match.

    Well you know what - I'm getting to the point where I'm not going to play that game any more. When they change the covers I'm not re-buying books I've already paid for. In fact in most cases I've just started giving away my earlier books to a charity shop and reading the rest of the series from the library so they're actually losing themselves sales.

    The other thing is that I'm reluctant to buy books in a new series because I know that the chances are the covers will change by the end. Guess what - I just read them from the library (God I love my library!). If I adore the books then I may well buy the whole series when it has been released but since I very rarely re-read books any more then the chances are by that point I won't be bothered.

    So there you have it, constantly changing the covers isn't doing them any favours. I'm going to let my money do the talking and refuse to play the game any more!

  9. OK I didn't realise quite how long that rant was until after I'd posted it! In case you hadn't guessed already this is something that really p*sses me off though!! LOL

  10. Ditto with Laura!

    I'm not a cover snob. When I look at books, I always read the back first. As books on a shelf, you usually see the spine first, and if I haven't heard of it already, that's what I first see. If I like the title, I grab it. I read the back first, then I have a look at the cover.

    This is where I become a cover snob. I'm OCD about it - my covers have to match. More on that later.

    In all honestly, I see why marketing departments change the cover on books. It's a great idea for new people to be interested in a series. A picture tells a thousand words, and a book cover speaks volumes. Having an appealing cover will generally boost a book's sales. Plus, with more readers comes reprinting of books, which means you get different editions. Which leads the publisher to question, should we change the book cover?

    In my opinion, changing the cover is a bad idea. Different covers for hardbacks and paperbacks I get. But changing paperback covers just irritates me.

    I'm based in Australia, but lived in the UK for three years. While I don't want to sound liked I'm bigheaded or anything, I've probably been hit hardest by cover changes - in Australia, you get both US AND UK covers of books. When I first read Vampire Academy, it was about 2008 (or 2007, I can't remember). When I moved to the UK, the next VA book was released. It was at this time, that the UK decided to bring out its new style of covers. So I chose instead to read my friend's copies, who was willing to buy the books with the red covers. Why buy a series that don't match? I was happy to wait until I get back to Aus. Fastrack 3 years, and I get back, and even the Aus covers have changed - none match my 1st edition any more. Which means that I have covers that don't match AND are the wrong size. Irritation much?

    The next one that gets me - and probably the most - is Delirium. I absolutely love the US redesign of the blue cover with the girl's face, as you've posted above. This is my copy, which I got over Christmas in Australia. When I get back to the UK, the cover for Pandemonioum is released - and it doesn't even match ANY of the gazillion covers that have been released for Delirium. Where did I end up finding a cover that matched mine? Austria. Not that I went there just for that...but it is annoying.

    All in all, after my rant is over, cover changes can be good. What publishers should realise, however, is that it is not good when you change a cover in a series either one or two books in. It's irritating and pricey for those who will actually go and spend money to make their covers match (I WILL admit to that.) Cover changes should happen after a series is finished. That way, fans can have the covers they want, and publishers can still try and entice new readers in as well with different designs.

  11. As an author who changed her own covers, I can understand why, you know, people change their covers, but man it's irritating. I think Beth Revis has changed her covers three times now and I keep thinking how much I really liked the original.

    Good posts, it's nice to see how bloggers really feel about things.

  12. God I hate it when they do this to! I want my series' to match! I am so disappointed by the covers for Shades of Earth. I also feel that by changing the covers to appeal to another type of reader they are actually ignoring their target audience, I mean what teenager would pick up those new books they don't look YA at all! Another example of this is Jackson Pearce's fairy tale re-tellings series, I loved the originals covers and now I won't be able to get Fathomless in a cover that matches. I understand why publishers change covers, and I know that authors have no say, but I don't know why they do it in the middle of a series. They should either wait till the whole series is released and so a whole re-brand, or they should do two types of covers so that the fans have a choice. Especially if the new covers are to attract adult audiences, I know there are plenty of books out there that have been relesed in both a 'teen' cover and an 'adult' cover, why can't they do that?! Enough with changing covers in the middle of the series.
    Such a great post, and definitely something that needs to be said!

  13. Some redesigns or US versions, like Delirium and Pandemonium, I like. But why switch styles half way through a series!! And the Nightshade cover was perfect, and the redesign made the sequel look so boring. Same with Insurgent! I wish they would just stick with one style, so you don't end up with oddly matched books.

  14. This is one of my biggest pet peeves with books. I love collecting series and I love when the covers match. Many series I like to buy and read as they come out and it's almost as the publishers are punishing readers for being on top of book releases. It makes me want to wait until series are out in full to buy them just so they all match.

    That said I really appreciated when Penguin did a special offer to get the new Nightshade dust jacket when they changed the covers. I was originally really upset when they changed the book covers because I thought the original was gorgeous but after reading the series I see why they changed it and think the new covers fit a bit better.

    Now the latest to do this is the Across the Universe and I already have the first two. So like you said I hope they do some sort of dust jacket offer for the last book.

    The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series in the UK is now on its third set of covers. They redid them not once but twice! And the second time they went almost back to the original designs.

    So I don't understand why they keep changing things up. If they think its going to help sales then they should just do the paperback designs or release a new cover set when the full series is out. Stop punishing your loyal readers with a hodgepodge of covers!

    1. And shame on me for forgetting to say... this is a great post and I'm glad you addressed the issue because I know it drives a lot of people crazy!

  15. This post is great and I couldn't agree more with everything that's been said above. I love my books matching and go to great length to get it done - sometimes it's completely futile... :(

    Lately I have started to wait out a whole series until everything gets released with the same covers. I'm sorry for the authors whose initial sales will drop (which has negative effects on bestseller lists), but I'm not buying the same book 3 times just to get a matching set in the end >.<

  16. Finally someone who is as irritated as me as cover over hauls.
    Another series they are doing is House of Night, the next book out is completely different to the previous 9 or 10. I also have the old cover for Blood Red Road which has now changed and will match the second book in the series. The same for Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts, the UK cover has be overhauled to match Rage Within. They did this for Vampire Academy too, I got to the very last book and when it was released it was red, and not black like the previous ones >_<
    Kelley Armstrong Women of the Other World did this too, they changed the style on book 10!!!

    I feel your pain in books not matching, all mine have to match and I will go and buy the new covers if it is a book I will re-read. MY old ones get given to friends or sent to my local library. I am still replacing a few books in series that I read. It would be nice for publisher to finish a series before changing the covers, or at least printing books with old and new covers so we get to make the choice ourselves and not have it made for us.

  17. I'm so glad you ranted about this debacle. I'm incredibly frustrated when they change covers. Sometimes change is good, but not all the time. My books don't match and when you look at it on the shelf it's out of order. I'm anal like that but it seems most people are. I just don't understand why they change the books so often. They should wait once the paperback version comes out.

  18. *Claps*

    I completely agree! I bought the Vampire Academy series and the first 5 books are Black with a girl on it and then the last one is red. RED! I would have to re buy the first 5 books which would cost me £34.95!

    We discussed Divergent at a reading group I go to and the leader brought up the book covers. She works at Waterstones and said that the new copies actually put off male readers whereas the old design encouraged male readers!

    Great post!

  19. Totally agree! It's always good to know that I'm not the only crazy who will get mad when my books don't match part way through the series. I also hate when they change the size of the books part way through the series... Case in point Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate which the first two are normal paperback size and the final three are big paperback size!! Grrr.

    I try not to get too peeved, but I totally support this post, I want to hug it! I just don't understand the need for it. (Very with you on the Stolen Night one, I couldn't believe it when it arrived!
    One of my friends point blank refused to buy any more of The Mortal Instruments series after the first two books came out with a uk cover, and then from that point on it was switched the to the us covers. ( I did eventually coax her into reading them though...)

    Anyway, mini rant over, I am completely with you on this and would love for someone to actually take notice of how irritating this is for buyers!
    Great post, and thanks :)

  20. Love this post so much. It's so freaking true. Annoys the hell out of me. Wish publishers would just wait until the whole series is out. Another thing that annoys me is formats!!?! I have a few series, where they start in paperback and then release hardback first. ANNOYING! I'd prefer all paperback.

    Alex Rider series, went paperback for 6 books, hardback for 2 and paperback for the final one. So annoying! Publishers need to be consistent with this sort of thing.

  21. I feel you. This totally upsets me, even though I really am not all that bothered when my books don't match. Cheap as I am, I had to give up on consistency ages ago.

    if they would go from a crappy design to a better design then cool, whatever, fine. However, they so often go from a really cool design to something boring and awful. Why? They put so much money, I'm sure, into those new Across the Universe covers FOR THAT? Oy.

    The ones that upset me the most are the redesigns for Jackson Pearces fairy tale series. Originally, she had the coolest covers pretty much ever. And now they're just lame. WHY????

  22. OK, all your comments are AWESOME and I haven't really found anyone who disagrees yet. I'm just hoping that publishers sit up and take some notice!

  23. I totally agree, I hate my series covers not matching. Why change them? There's no need for it. And to do it mid-way through a series? They did it to Harry Potter, but at least you can get the entire series in any of about 4 cover styles. What I'm most annoyed about is the change to the Septimus Heap books, and the originals looked so much better than the new ones. For the first change they altered the spine so now it is gold leaved, I could put up with that, but the latest move has a completely new design, for the last 2 books in the series (bk 6 & 7)! I refuse to buy them if they don't match my 1-5. Not only are the designs different, but the book is a completely different size and shape?! Another one they've changed is book 4 of the Inheritance Cycle. Completely unnecessary. They could at least do readers the courtesy to continue the series in the original cover designs for the original fans. The printed word is going out of fashion, and moves like this are just going to diminsh their customer base further. Those who are buying books nowadays are those who collect them, like the look and feel of the books in their hands and on their bookshelves, having a mis-matched series on the shelf is not going to promote more book-buying.