One of the aspects of cover art I find most fascinating is how one book can have multiple covers, depending on where the book is being sold. For example, here are four different covers for GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. From left to right, you have covers from the US, UK, Germany, and Italy:
Same book. Same author. Four different covers. Here is another example, with the same countries, for Sophie Kinsella’s I’VE GOT YOUR NUMBER:
So what makes one cover work in one market, and not in another? Why would a book like Curtis Sittenfeld’s AMERICAN WIFE work better in the States with a bride on the cover, whereas in the UK the cover works better with a girl on a bicycle on a windswept plain? Obviously different cultures identify with different images and media, but beyond that, I don’t have a good answer. Particularly when it comes to the US and UK — two countries that, on the surface at least, seem so similar — I am consistently intrigued by how differently they approach cover art.
This is especially true with so-called chick lit, an umbrella under which my book seems to fall. In the States, most chick lit covers involve photographic renderings (a faceless girl, a cupcake, a group of beach chairs), whereas in the UK, illustrations (often cartoon-like and involving swirly lettering) predominate. I don’t universally prefer one over the other. Sometimes I think the US style works better; other times, I much prefer the UK illustration.
For comparison, here are four of my book covers, from the same countries listed above: US, UK, Germany, Italy. Which one do YOU prefer? Don’t be shy. I have my favorites, too!
(Also, I’d be curious to know your thoughts on different covers in different markets!)
15 Replies to “Deb Dana’s Book of Many Covers”
I love looking at foreign book covers! For Dana’s book, my favorite cover is the US one. I do love the Italian cover but it doesn’t fit my perception of the story.
Kathy, I totally agree with you — fun cover but not necessarily in line with the story! The title is even more out of line. It translates to “dinner at his parents’,” which, if you’ve read the book, you’ll applies to the first scene in the book and absolutely nothing else!
Fascinating. I love the German cover for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. As for yours, Dana, I actually like the US one best. Also – look at you, all published in four different countries! How cool is that?
Very cool :). I’m definitely thrilled!
You have four covers?? WOW!!!
I like to think that there’s ample research that goes into cover choices, because different cultures just “go for” different things. I think it shows in the examples above. Another thing that fascinates me is how books published in hard cover will have a completely new cover for the paperback release. I think I read an article that it’s usually a lighter, brighter cover if it changes. Perhaps making more “accessible” at its new price point!
I think covers don’t get their full due from e-books though, although I always look and appreciate covers no matter how I’m reading.
I’m fascinated by hardcover/paperback differences as well! Like, if it’s the same book, why the different cover? The different price point/increased accessibility is probably the main reason, but it’s very intriguing. And I agree that covers don’t get their full due in e-book form. I always used to glance at the covers of books people were reading on the Metro to get ideas. It was free advertising! Though I guess it also helps authors of romance and other genres people may not want to admit they’re reading on public transportation…
WOW. I am totally impressed! I love all of your covers – but I have to say, I like the cupcake best. Italy is a close second, though, because it reminds me of classic films, which I love, and I’m sure the cover designer was trying to echo those iconic images. Still…with me it’s always cupcakes for the win!
I’m guessing my US publisher was counting on cupcake crazy readers like you (and so many others)!
I love the German cover! I guess that Nebraska farmer blood is running true today.
Me too!! In many ways, I think this cover most accurately depicts the spirit of the story (girl who likes to cook but is doing so in secret, etc). In fact, this concept is what I originally presented to my US editors. I asked for GIRLS IN WHITE DRESSES meets Janelle Brown (google her covers to see what I mean). I realize this undercuts the point in your post today, but I thought that would make a strong cover. Obviously the German publishers thought so, too, even though they didn’t solicit my opinion at all! Go figure.
It’s so fascinating to me to see the cultural differences portrayed in book covers. I study them and try to figure out why they’re portraying them that way. (I’m a pop culture nerd.) Anyway, I love the U.S. cover! It’s not just a cupcake, it looks like art. Lovely. But I like the German and Italian covers a lot, too. In any case, this book is on my TBR pile. 🙂
I’m a pop culture nerd, too :). Glad the book is on your TBR pile! Hope you enjoy it!
I agree – this is totally fascinating. I’ve given up trying to understand and now just revel in every different one – my current favorite is my book’s Indonesian cover.
I love the Italian one. I think we should all go to Italy together and see how it looks in the wild…
YES! I am 100% behind this plan. Just say the word, and I’m on the next plane to Florence!
Thanks for the post. I’ve often wondered, in particular, about the differences in British and American covers. We are VERY different culturally (don’t let the similar language fool you!) but the differences I know about don’t seem to be reflected in book cover choices as far as I can tell. I’d love to know the rationale!
Do you know if any of the language was adapted for the British edition? Little things, I mean – like the word “eh”, which in the UK we pronounce “ay” and doesn’t (yet, as far as I know) have the same connotation as it does here in the US. We use it to signal confusion, the way Americans use “huh”? And instead of “heh”, we would write “ha”. Anyway, that’s a tiny thing but as a multicultural linguistic geek these are the things that keep me up at night! Since they changed the title (and I can’t for the life of me understand why) I just wondered whether they’d made other changes too.
Any plans for a translation into French? I think they would love it – and be pleasantly surprised that some Americans know about food!
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