more on covers from different countries

A few people commented on the links to the Anne Bishop entries on Amazon Deutschland and said they didn’t like the covers. Of course, part of the reason for those links was to illustrate how different the markets are. Anne’s German publisher is well-established and those editions are doing quite well. No fear, there.

Covers are one of the things it seems that authors agonize over considerably and most of them have little control, if any, on how they are designed. It’s only natural. After all, in many cases, particularly if they are not a return reader, the cover is the first impression made on the potential buyer. Which makes the comments comparing the old covers and new covers for Anne’s books quite relevant. It’s curious to see how much the market in the U.S. has changed since the first edition of Daughter of the Blood in 1998. That, and the popularity of these books, has brought up the new covers to speak to the current market.

Here’s another example of how different publishers in different countries try to appeal to their readers.

U.S. publication (2000)
U.K. publication (2005)
German publication (2006)
Chinese publication (2006)
Russian publication (2003)

15 responses to “more on covers from different countries

  1. Someone in Russia is fond of Necroscope.

  2. Note to self: If I’m going to buy books in Germany, bring a plain paper cover for bus and subway reading.

  3. I really love the UK cover, but I have to admit that the US ones are still my favorite. I don’t have much love for the new ones that actually show Harry on them, perhaps because he doesn’t suit the Harry that lives in my brain, which distracts me. I think that’s why I prefer most of my covers with less “face” (unless it’s highly stylized, like the Geisha cover.)
    Thanks for sharing! It’s really interesting to see what different publishers believe their readers will be attracted to. I think, even without the wording, I could have connected at least the German, Russian and British ones with their countries of origin.

  4. Covers are important. I’ve been reading Steven Erikson’s Malazan series lately, and will only buy the Bantam editions because I don’t like the Tor covers. If I had seen the Tor ones first, I probably never would have picked up the first book, because it doesn’t look like something that would interest me in the least. Although I know a cover doesn’t necessarily reflect the contents of the book it’s hard not to be influenced by the artwork sometimes.

    • Though you could probably admit the Tor cover for House of Chains looks pretty good. I know I like it, as a piece of art, while admitting it’s hard to place it in the novel’s context. The UK cover does a much better job, though for a seemingly less important plot thread.

      • OK, I couldn’t remember what the House of Chains cover looked like so I just went to and compared them. Yes, you are right. The Tor cover does look good. I definitely like it better than the covers for Gardens of the Moon or Memories of Ice, which were both complete turn-offs for me. Looking at the two covers for House of Chains, I’m not sure which one I prefer, now. I haven’t read that book yet, so I don’t know how well the Tor artwork fits with the events of the book, but the feel of it is right for this series, I think.
        It’s interesting that they used the same cover as the Bantam Press edition for Deadhouse Gates when they changed the others, though. I wonder what it is about that one cover that they thought would appeal to Americans when none of the others would.

        • I prefer the Bantam covers myself, with the possible exception of Gardens of the Moon.
          As for HoC … I’ll give the nod to Bantam there as well, though, as I said, it’s a nice piece of art. Bantam wins again its Midnight Tides but Tor’s offering another good cover. Same artist as HoC if I recall correctly. Could be wrong. It’s always hard to find out who the Tor artists are from Amazon, though Irene Gallo over at the syndicated LJ feed the_art_dept does a good job of getting that information out. That’s where I found the MT cover.
          It’s going to be interesting to see what Tor does with The Bonehunters when they catch up. I think they’re bound to issue their editions after the UK ones. If they’re close enough the two publishers might collaborate on covers. Whether that’s good or bad is a whole other topic. As you can see from the examples in ‘s post, diversity is good. 🙂

          • Gardens of the Moon is my least favourite of the Tor covers. I was going to go into a big rant, but I will refrain. Mostly. That woman standing in the foreground? WTF is she wearing? Is she a soldier or a fetishist? Her armour is completely unrealistic, and almost totally useless. Unless her opponents all aim at her melon-like boobs. Those are well-protected, at least.
            I like that the Bantam cover for GotM is unusual, and a bit surreal. Although it’s hard to match it to a single, definite event in the story, it captures the mood of it, I think. It’s a very interesting cover.
            Although some might think it a drawback that there are no buxom women in skimpy armour. 😛
            I do like seeing how various publishers choose to handle the artwork. It’s fascinating to see the differences between them.

            • Word of mouth (first) and then the difference in the GotM covers from Tor to Bantam originally drew my attention to the series. Bantam … surreal is a good word. Not being able to match it to a definite scene is bothersome, but less so than with the Tor cover.
              I think what says below hits the mark. The covers from Tor take an “all things to everyone” approach. At least with 1 and 3. With MoI edging more toward realism.
              Putting this into perspective with the Bishop and Butcher covers as examples, if the cover sells the book to its market, more power to it.

              • The covers from Tor take an “all things to everyone” approach.
                Maybe that’s one of the things that bugs me. The covers of one and three do look more generic to me. They don’t really say much about the books. I know that Erikson’s books have been described as “military fiction” but there’s a lot more to them than that, and you don’t get any hint of it from those covers.

  5. Belated comments on the Bishop covers — it’s interesting that they chose to rework them in a way that makes them look more like romance novels. To be honest, I don’t buy romance (and am not all that fond of paranormal romance either, although I know it’s hot right now), so if I’d bought them these days I wouldn’t pick those up. The new covers do look better, but the old cover clearly proclaimed the novels to be fantasy with a dollop of romance, rather than the other way around.

    • I second this opinion.
      I wondered if maybe it was my kneejerk reaction to not wanting to buy anything with a seductive waif on the cover, but on second thought, it’s the way the covers are trying to rope in the paranormal romance market. I don’t like strong market segmentation, but neither do I like an “all things to everyone” approach, either.

      • I wouldn’t pick up the Bishop books. They’d never get a chance. I trust publishers to cue me about a book via the cover. Mostly because I don’t have time to browse every single author in the store. (I get distracted easily in public places, even bookstores, and it takes a lot of focus for me to scan the back of a book and read the first chapter or two.) I don’t have time to read every book that looks interesting anyway. Those books have a light fantasy romance look to them, so I’d probably skip them. I find cover art in that particular realistic style to be quite cheesy as well.
        Obviously, the publisher knows what they’re doing. I’m not the market segment they’re looking for, and the segment they want probably adores those covers. And that’s cool. It’s all part of the game. I depend on word of mouth quite a bit now.
        You will note, however, that the number of women authors I read these days is steadily falling, because of covers like that which are sometimes placed on books that don’t match content-wise. That’s all part of being a man in a marketplace that’s moving away from men at the moment. I can’t blame them. Women read more. And the romance stuff? Well, romance crossover presents a lot more opportunities for sales.
        There are even male authors whose covers turn me off because they have art like that. My wife bought a James Hetley novel last weekend. She’d heard good things about him, but every time she saw his books on the shelf, she cringed. I convinced her to ignore the covers and read a few chapters. She loved it and bought it, though she was embarassed to do so. The store didn’t have the next book, so she checked it out of the library. The cover was more cheesecake. Again she was embarassed, and she wondered why she was reading it. Had to remind herself that it was because the writing was good and nothing like what the covers portrayed.
        Again, we don’t have anything against people who write books like that, or who read them. (There’s actually one paranormal romance that I want to read.) It’s just not our bag and we get a little pissed when marketing forces us away from good books we’d otherwise give a chance. The paranormal romance push has really changed things over the last five years. In good ways and bad ways. Probably more good than bad, just not for me. Well, and several guys I know who’ve pretty much stopped reading fantasy these days. But they’re just fusspots.

  6. even though to me, the US cover makes more sense per the title, I really like and feel drawn to the UK cover. Odd isn’t it?

  7. I typically prefer British covers for fantasy.

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