Top Ten Tuesday: cover by cover

Text only: top ten TUESDAY

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s all about books, lists and sharing the love we have of both with our bookish friends. This week’s prompt is cover art redesigns – now here’s controversy!

Cover art. We promise not to judge a book by it (AHAHAHAHA). We throw events to celebrate a good reveal. And we get so, so, so, so angry when publishers change it mid-series. After all, there’s nothing worse than having a mismatched series, am I right?

Well, you’d think. And don’t get me wrong – my completist heart rages when I’m caught out by it. But sometimes – just sometimes (like when I haven’t actually bought any of the series yet, or only have it as an ebook) – I have to admit it’s been a good choice. And other times, I have to admit that some other region got way better cover art than we did here in the UK.

Judgey McJudgeface

Don’t judge a book by its cover? Ha. I picked up A Game of Thrones at the city library in the mid-90s and put it straight back down again purely on the basis of its busy, garish, old-school cover art. I loved fantasy, but I didn’t want to read this one. It took the elegant early noughties re-design to convince me (so let’s hear it for good pull-quotes too: “characters as venomous as the Borgias” was the deciding factor).

No I Don’t Want The Film Edition

You’re halfway through a series, and the film / TV shows comes out. BOOM. These days, you can usually still get your hands on a non-promotional copy. I’ve spent my whole life trying to complete my set of the (mostly) brooding Armada Lions editions of The Chronicles of Prydain. Even though the cover for Taran Wanderer was objectively terrible.

Size Matters

Here’s a thing: yes, a perfectly matching set is a wonderful thing – but I’m pretty forgiving if the editions are vaguely harmonious and the same size. My Culture novels span two styles of cover art, but at least they all line up (and the Orbit logo is even in the same place) – and the latest art is more a reimagining of the second edition than a completely new thing. If I’d been collecting those early ship-based editions on the other hand…

What Were They Thinking?

Okay, so Alanna was probably my first all-out bookish crush, so I have an unreasonable attachment to Book 1. I’m not saying the art was brilliant, but… look at what came next. Still, Book 2 looks fabulous next to Books 3 and 4… This eye-catching nose dive spans three different publishers – but dear gods and little fishes, my eyes. Be reassured: there is good Alanna cover art. Just not on my shelf…

Don’t Change That Font

There’s been lots of gorgeous Locke Lamora cover art, but I will be GUTTED if the series takes so long to finish that they change the design along the way. And yes, it has taken putting this post together and looking at the covers side by side to realise they already changed the art design on the trade editions and in my mind it apparently doesn’t count because they used the same font so the spines match. Give the team at Gollancz a cookie for being considerate!


See these gorgeous matching collections that… don’t match, because the Serrailler designer changed the font complete, and the Deverry designer got cute with text layout. Hey, no big deal, it’s just the spines that don’t match. YOU KNOW, THE BIT YOU SEE ON THE SHELF. But at least they used the same font… (weirdly, these bother me and the Culture doesn’t. That’s a different font too. Who said I had to be consistent? I blame the serifs).

All change

Ah, the classic: let’s redesign the cover art every couple of books in a long-running series with a legion of fans. That won’t annoy anyone, will it? Surely not. To be fair, it didn’t annoy me half as much as the second half of the series. The cover art was the least of my gripes from Tongues of Serpents onwards.

It’s just the vibe of the thing

I love a picture of the sky with a silhouette (Becky Chambers cover artists win all the prizes), but… not when it’s a graphic, as it turns out. Besides, the dusky US colour photography makes you look up at the sky and realise how big it is; the UK cover is so bright and so cramped – it looks like the artist thought it was for a beach read, not a galaxy-spanning flupocalypse!

Regional bias

I admit it: I have regional bias when it comes to cover art. As a rule, I prefer UK artwork to US. Although in the case of my chosen example, maybe I just have a specific bias towards Geoff Taylor’s work (I love Geoff Taylor’s work).

Any good rule has exceptions, though. I still don’t understand why the UK edition of Seth Dickinson’s jaw-dropping debut was not only redesigned but renamed. The UK edition ended up being so generic it hurts. The designer heard ’empire’ and channelled ‘Roman’; whereas the US design is… haunting.

Enjoyed this little meander through the highs and lows of salty opinions about cover redesigns? Check out the Friday Face-off – created by Books by Proxy, now hosted by the lovely Lynn – for weekly side by sides of cover art!

What are you favourite / least favourite cover redesigns?