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Happy July: Free Books! Cover Competition!

So six of my friends and I were discussing US and UK covers one day, and we compared and constrasted and generally came to very few conclusions about the difference between US and UK covers. We were focusing on young adult covers, as we're all young adult authors, and I thought it might be interesting to share some of our waffling here. Possibly even enlightening!

Okay, it was all Saundra Mitchell's idea and anything enlightening was probably said by her, and definitely not by me.

But as a reward for listening to my babbling, we thought we could give away seven books at once.

In the US, I think young adult fiction is seen as slanted more towards adults, whereas in the UK young adult fiction is seen as slanted more towards kids: with the landslide success of Twilight everywhere this is changing as we speak, but for now I've noticed that in the US teen sections are kept quite separate from and sometimes far away from the children's section, and in the UK they tend to be together and quite often to blend.

So, there's the question of different audiences for the US and UK people.

There's also the question of different sensibilities: I know a couple of US covers that were changed because 'that's too sexy for the UK market.' This overlaps with the question of audience, but might also have something to do with notions of propriety this side of the pond. ;)

And there's the question of timing. Some of us have always loved young adult fiction - for instance, you can try prying my copy of Margaret Mahy's The Changeover out of my cold, dead hands - but it cannot be denied it's exploded in recent years, and especially since Twilight, though there were signs of its rising popularity well before that. And Twilight had a much slower start in the UK than the US - possibly due to their very different covers. So I think the UK is less certain of young adult fiction: it has lots of experiments in style.

One example of such experimentation is a book I know of that was sold as straight-up YA fantasy in the US, was sold as YA fantasy with a different UK cover, and at the same time as adult fantasy with yet another different UK cover and a different title. This was deeply confusing for me. I very nearly bought the same book twice.

UK Covers on the Left, US on the Right, and Jump!Collapse )

Now, having seen so many US versus UK covers, you probably have opinions. You probably have favourites.

I cannot hear them. (NO. SERIOUSLY. PLEASE DO NOT TELL ME. SERIOUSLY, PLEASE DO NOT.) Books are not significantly like our children, as selling one's children in the marketplace is frowned on by many. But book covers are like our children's faces in a way - they mean a lot to us, and we don't have control over them. They're also marketing tools, so people should feel free to express their opinions on them: but doing it to the author is liable to just make the author collapse in a tragic heap of smelling salts and brandy. (Medicinal, of course!)

I would like to hear anyone's thoughts on the trends in covers on both sides of the pond, possibly how US covers sometimes get new covers in paperback but never adopt the UK ones, and how the UK industry often changes to the US covers to see what will happen. I'd also like to hear guesses on what the UK covers of the other three of the seven debaters - Saundra Mitchell of Shadowed Summer, Sarah MacLean of The Season and Sarah Cross of Dull Boy - would look like.

But if you want to pick favourites, good news, that's how you win seven books at once!


Go here to vote for Team US or Team UK, and possibly win either the seven books in the UK package complete with UK covers, or the seven books in the US package complete with US covers.


( 183 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jul. 1st, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
This post was really interesting! Unfortunately, as well as making me contemplate covers (I kind of wish the US used more foil), it also made me want each and every single book. First thing I'm doing when I get back to the US in a month is hitting all my favorite bookstores...your journal alone has given me at least 30 books I want to buy. I thank you for that! :)
Jul. 2nd, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
Hmmm. Australia had the same covers as the US for Uglies and Cassandra Clare's novels. Can't vouch for the others, but I strongly suspect that generally whatever cover is published in the US is most commonly published here. ^_^
Jul. 2nd, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
Oh, WOW! I just grabbed my (US) copy of The Demon's Lexicon to stare at the cover some more, and, lo and behold, there are two dust jackets. Weird, and puzzling, since I did not notice this when I bought it! I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that the woman at the bookstore who got it for me had to search for it in the back room...

Anyone want an extra dust jacket? It is very pretty!
Jul. 2nd, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
I've also noticed this trend in covers (being fond of both UK and US books and having dual sets of the Harry Potter series.) I live in the U.S., but I hate that a lot of our YA books look like Gothic Romance novels. I far prefer the more illustrated feel of the UK covers (on the whole). When a cover looks like Romance rather than Adventure (although it may contain both -- which I love), some boys are put off from reading them. My own son, who is 12 and an avid reader (he just finished the entire Percy Jackson series in 5 days), sometimes has to have his arm twisted (metaphorically speaking) to read a book with a cover he doesn't like (even though he's heard good things about the contents). That being said, I'm still having problems getting him to read The Graveyard Book and Skellig, even though they both have marvelously mysterious/shadowy covers.
Jul. 2nd, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
Really interesting read.

(And then, of course, there are us Canadians, who get some odd combination of US and UK editions.)
Jul. 5th, 2009 08:22 am (UTC)
Very interesting to see all the covers gathered together here.

One thing, though. Tithe was published in the US in 2002.
Jul. 5th, 2009 10:32 am (UTC)
Oh amazon, you fibbed to me! Or, I am an idiot. *fixes*
Jul. 7th, 2009 11:35 am (UTC)
I must confess that my experiences wandering around American bookshops has had me believe that America's cover designers were all blind, but clearly in the YA arena this is not the case! But I have a strange compulsion, when it actually comes down to buying; the book I pick up in the shop is the book that sparkles. I bought and read Artemis Fowl purely because it was holographic. Ditto Stormbreaker. The most recent YA I read, Gone, has fluorescent yellow pages. The back intrigued me on each occasion, but it was the yellow and the sparkle that made me take it to the till. I also once bought a book because it had pretty butterflies, but I cannot remember what it was called. I think it's because when surrounded by a million books, most of which I am likely to enjoy, my brain shuts down in panic and I just go for whatever looks least like the others. And most like a picture book, apparently.
Jul. 12th, 2009 11:41 am (UTC)
This was an extremely interesting post. I have to say that I never even knew about the UK cover of Twilight! I bought the book without knowing a thing about it, solely because of the beautiful black and red cover.

I'm really disappointed that they switched The Mortal Instruments to the US covers, though. I can't buy the final book like that! It won't match with the first two! *pout* Is there anywhere I can get that nice green original cover? I'm nitpicky about my books matching, which is why I hate 'movie covers' that single out one book in a series...I searched everywhere to get an original cover of Northern Lights by Philip Pullman after the movie came out.

I heart your black and red cover <3
Sep. 8th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
*wishes she'd seen this earlier8
Oct. 29th, 2009 09:30 am (UTC)
Nice Book Collection
Sarah Rees Brennan, I read your blog post really very nice and good. Here you share nice book collection info here. Form your book collection i have read Uglies book which is written by Scott Westerfeld. Really very nice book. Here you also share other nice books info too. Thanks for your nice info.
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( 183 comments — Leave a comment )


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