Friday, May 25, 2012

Cover Talk: Paperback Swap

Visiting the topic of covers once again, I wanted to talk about hardcover-to-paperback changes. You know what I mean. When the hardcover of a book has a great, artistic, stunning cover and then the paperback comes out and... what? Generic photo of a pretty girl glancing off to the side wistfully as her hair blows around her face? Yeah. Fortunately that's not the only kind of hardcover-to-paperback cover swap that happens, but it is the kind that bothers me most. So today we're looking at dramatic cover changes of books that I love.

Book #1: If I Stay, by Gayle Forman
One of the worst offenders. And the truly sad thing is that, not only does hardcover of the sequel (Where She Went) match the paperback cover, but the paperback, generic as it looks, actually fits the story. Which sort of diminishes this very beautiful, moving story of love and family and difficult choices and makes it seem, instead, like the basis for a Lifetime Original Movie. The book is so much better than that. My choice: hardcover.

Book #2: Bunheads, by Sophie Flack
This one is a bit trickier. Confession: I didn't like the original cover the first time I saw it. I was looking at the book from a distance and couldn't quite tell that those are dancers (and not, like, weird flowers) on the cover. But, after I saw the cover up close I realized that it's actually pretty awesome. A sort of kaleidoscope effect. But now there's this new paperback cover that focuses on only one of the dancers and I just don't know what to think of it. Not because it's not pretty (it is; they both are), but mostly because of the color/font combination. The black works on the hardcover but I feel like there's too much of it on the paperback and honestly I'm not loving the font, especially so huge. But it's still a really close call for me and this is one cover change where I feel like the covers really complement each other and both fit equally well for the story. My choice: hardcover, but just barely.

Book #3: The Mockingbirds, by Daisy Whitney
This is another tricky one, but for a different reason. There are two ways to think of The Mockingbirds: you can think of it as a book, or you can think of it as the first book in a series. Granted, this series only has two books and (because I think it was originally intended to have more books) ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. But still. There's a sequel here (The Rivals) and for that I think the yearbook-esque cover works so much better. The cover is pretty great and matches the original (hardcover) cover to its sequel. On the other hand, if you're looking at The Mockingbirds as its one, one-shot book, you can't get any better than the To Kill A Mockingbird-inspired hardcover edition. It's artsy, mysterious, and just... perfect. My choice: hardcover, which gives you a clue as to how I view The Mockingbirds.

Book #4: Imaginary Girls, by Nova Ren Suma
Too easy. It's not that the paperback cover is bad, necessarily -- it totally has the whole eerie/mystery feeling to it that matches the story. But it's bleak. Dark. It looks like a book that's all mystery, and Imaginary Girls isn't. It's a story that, at its core, is about the love between two sisters, and the hardcover, in addition to being brilliant in every way (colors. font. layout. everything.) hints at more than just a dark and stormy night. My choice: hardcover.

Book #5: Suite Scarlett, by Maureen Johnson
Let's end this with an interesting cover set. Historically I feel like Maureen Johnson's covers sort of get the short end of the stick. She has all these headless girls everywhere, but surprisingly Suite Scarlett has a cover (two, actually!) that match the book really well. The girl on the hardcover looks just like how you'd expect Scarlett to look (except that the model is probably older than Scarlett) and is seated behind a hotel desk. And the paperback has the whole hotel-key/New York thing going on. I don't dislike either of these covers, but I do much prefer the paperback. It's more simple and, despite Scarlett being the protagonist of the book, there's a whole host of important characters. My choice: paperback, surprisingly.

Thanks to space and time and not wanting this post to be so incredibly long, I'm forcing myself to stop after five cover comparisons, but there are so many others out there that I wanted to include. Anyway, what do you think: does it bother you when the paperback of a book has a drastically different cover than the hardcover?


  1. It does bug me if the paperback is dramatically different if it falls into one of two instances. 1. If the paperback is WAY more awesome than the hardcover (which I have already bought) 2. If they change it halfway through a series to match the hardcovers of the newer books (Nightshade by Andrea Cremer). I like all my series to look like the same series that includes being in the same format. This was a fun post. I love the original Imaginary Girls way more than the pb. :)

    1. Oh, I agree. But it seems rare that the pb is a way better cover than the hc, at least in my experience. (Exception: Paper Towns). And I also like all of my series to match, which is why things like the Mockingbirds and If I Stay cover changes bug me so much.

      & yes, the hardcover Imaginary Girls is PHENOMENAL.

  2. Awesome post!

    To be honest, I love the Imaginary Girls hardcover but, with so many girls under water covers these days I'm kinda glad they did something different for the paperback. I had an ARC with the original cover but I bought the pb for a finished copy, mostly because it was more affordable, but I wouldn't have done it if I didn't love it too.

    I haven't read the Mockingbirds (yet!) but I prefer the paperback covers, I think they're really great and the hardcover didn't catch my eye at all. But I haven't read the book.

    Where I Stay... I just don't like either.

    Anyway great post, I might borrow the idea for inspiration down the road (I'll link back of course!) cause I have a few of these floating around in my head too. Some I'm really conflicted over, like Between Shades of Gray. Some I'm just annoyed about, like Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien, cause like Britt said, my hardcovers don't match for that series anymore. Annoying!

    1. I think Imaginary Girls was one of the first "girls under water" covers (or at least the first I saw) and that's probably part of the reason I love it so much and still think it's pretty artsy/original.

      Would love to see your post if you do one! I had such a long list of these types of changes that I'm consider a "part two" of this post. lol