Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cover Talk: When Cover Changes Go Bad

Earlier this week I posted about cover changes from hardcover to paperback. I included books I thought had gone under a good cover makeover. Then over the past few days, as I was thinking about covers, I came across some that had undergone a makeover that I thought went from good to bad. This isn't an uncommon occurrence. And what one person says is bad, another person may love. It's all about marketing and trying to reach a certain audience.

First up is Between Shades of Gray. This book was on the Morris Award Shortlist and the honor is well deserved. It's a beautifully gripping story that is heartbreaking and haunting. I think the original hardcover has the right feel of loneliness, isolation, and arctic cold:

It's a simple cover and it says a lot. Then we get to the paperback edition:

I actually think this is a lovely cover-just not for this book. To me this looks very paranormal and seems to match a lot of the covers that are in the YA market right now. I don't get a historical fiction feel from this cover-instead it looks more like a sad paranormal breakup story.

Next up is not only a recover but a rebranding and rerelease under a new name. Dani Noir was released as a middle grade title in 2009 and I adored the cover:

It's so mysterious and noir perfect, right? It's also very unique and I felt it really stood out among other middle grade fare. Here's the original book description:

If this were a movie, you'd open to the first page of this book and be transported to a whole other world. Everything would be in black and white, except maybe for the girl in pink polka-dot tights, and this really great music would start to swell in the background. All of a sudden, you wouldn't be able to help it — you'd be a part of the story, you'd be totally sucked in. You'd be in this place, filled with big lies, mysterious secrets, and a tween girl turned sleuth....
Zoom in on thirteen-year-old Dani Callanzano. It's the summer before eighth grade, and Dani is stuck in her nothing-ever-happens town with only her favorite noir mysteries at the Little Art movie theater to keep her company.
But one day, a real-life mystery begins to unravel — at the Little Art! And it all has something to do with a girl in polka-dot tights.... Armed with a vivid imagination, a flair for the dramatic, and her knowledge of all things Rita Hayworth, Dani sets out to solve the mystery, and she learns more about herself than she ever though she could.

Now the book is being rereleased as Fade Out-and being rebranded to reach an older audience:

My main issue with this is that I don't think this cover captures the book as well as the original cover. I also think this also looks too much like all the other covers on the shelf right now. It's trying to market to a paranormal audience even though it's not a paranormal book. Remember that original description of the book? Check out this new, updated copy that's again, trying to reach for an older market:

Life echoes art in this sassy, heartwrenching coming-of-age story from the author of Imaginary Girls.
It’s summer and Dani Callanzano has been abandoned by everyone she knows. Her dad moved out, her mom is all preoccupied being broken-hearted, and her closest friend just moved away. Basically it’s the end of the world.
At least she has the Little Art, her favorite local arthouse movie theater. Dani loves all the old black-and-white noir thrillers with their damsels in distress and their low camera angles. It also doesn’t hurt that Jackson, the guy who works the projection reel, is super cute and nice and funny. And completely off-limits, of course—he’s Dani’s friend’s boyfriend, and they are totally, utterly perfect together.
But one day, Dani stumbles across a shocking secret about Jackson—a secret too terrible for her to keep. She finds herself caught in the middle of a love triangle with enough drama to rival the noir-est film noir she’s ever seen.

And I saved the worst cover change for last. Are you ready??

The hardcover of My Beating Teenage Heart is nice and simple and I like it.

Not bad, right?

Wait til you see the paperback cover:

Anyone else getting a flashback to the 80s? The books that I do have on my library shelf that have 80s and early 90s covers do not get checked out. I also think the colors are just odd and the glowing yellow on her neck makes the girl like she has a starry rash. I also think this really has little to do with the book, where the first cover at least, to me, shows that this book will be sentimental and heartbreaking. The paperback cover just looks trippy.

Thoughts? Are these cover changes good or bad? Any other cover changes you've come across that have totally missed the mark?


  1. The cover change that is seriously ticking me off is for Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. The first cover had a huge moon on it. I thought it was attention-grabbing and really went with the story. The second cover is AWFUL. It shows a pink dresser (obviously a girl's) with a window above looking out at the moon. NO BOY will ever pick up this book now, and it's NOT just a girl's book. It's an anyone book. I'm so frustrated with it. :(

  2. The BTOS cover is awful. It looks like a romance, which the book is definitely not. I think it will give readers the wrong impression and make them like the book less.

  3. One thing I love about the original cover for Between Shades of Gray is that I think adults would pick it up and I think that's a book with a lot of adult crossover appeal. The new cover? It looks like a romance. Would appeal to maybe a certain adult audience, but not the wide audience for that book!

  4. I these are all terrible! They don't represent the book's essence and as a result don't stand out in a crowd of YA books. The BTOS is the worst. It makes you think she's laying under a disco ball! LOL

  5. I loathe the reissues of the classics like Sense and Sensibility and Wuthering Heights with the new "Twilight" esque covers. *cover* Also, have you seen these modern covers for Shakespeare and other classics like Poe and Jane Eyre?

  6. I agree- all changes for the worst! Keep up the cover changes- so interesting!

  7. I'm so depressed now. The new cover for Between Shades of Gray (aka How Did This Not Win the Printz???) totally throws off the whole feel of the book. I'm utterly confused by Dani Noir vs Fade Out. Why didn't she just write a whole new book?? I wonder if any of the actual story changed... ? And I think the last 2 covers are both awful. Ugh.

  8. Good call on these choices, they are bad! I really don't like when they totally change the look and feel of a book (unless the original cover didn't work). Dani Noir appears to be a completely new book - but it isn't. That's so frustrating when you don't realize that until you've read half the book!

  9. I'm trying my best to put myself in the mindset of an art director who believes that the change is for the better... BUT I CAN'T. Why would you possibly want to change a good cover into one that looks just like every other one on the shelf? Isn't that just feeding into the world of imitation that has gone on for far too long in YA publishing already? First Twilight knockoffs, now people who cite The Hunger Games as their inspiration...

  10. I'm intrigued by the last cover change. It looks like a black girl on the cover which is unusual. I think the worst change is Shades of Gray. Completely changes the tone of the book

  11. I had no idea that Between Shades of Gray was about a girl who falls in love with a ghost even though she's a ghostbuster! Or she's a necromancer and there's zombie love? Or something?

    At least Beating Teenage Heart has a person of color on it, even if the cover isn't great.

  12. Oh my goodness those cover changes are TRAVESTIES! Especially Between Shades Of Gray. What were they thinking? I get how the snow kind of relates to the book when they are sent to the labor camp in Siberia, but like you said it just looks like a paranormal book.

    And Dani Noir? They took what was a gorgeous eye-catching cover and made it look like every other book on the shelf.

    So disappointed.


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