November 30th, 2009

black arthur

The Covers, They Are A-Changin'

'Sarah!' I hear you cry. 'Where are the publishing posts of yore, so informative and yet so hilarious?' 'No,' you actually cry. 'We really didn't miss them. You don't actually know that m-'

I am GLAD YOU ASKED.

I have been told by Some People (and by that I mean Justine 'Don't Spoil Me! Why Are You Spoiling Me? QUIT SPOILING ME OR I WILL USE MY AUSTRALIAN KUNG FU' Larbalestier) that sometimes when I talk about books and movies and television shows, I tend to spoil them for people by means of gently saying 'I was so sad when so and so died' and 'I hope that Character A and Character B make out/turn into zombies/take over the world again.'

That's okay. For not only am I going to be mostly talking about covers, I promise that my brief summary of each of the books (all of which I recommend) will be MOSTLY LIES. There will be a bit of truth, here and there. But you'll never know where, unless you read them all. Rest assured you will be spoiled for nothing but the stories that play out in my head.

But this is mostly a Cover Post, and it is about an aspect of covers I have not yet previously discussed! It is about what happens when a book changes cover in the transition from hardback to paperback. (I am concentrating on US editions alone, as they have many more hardbacks than UK editions.)

So why does this happen to some books and not others? Weeell, for many reasons. Obviously, a cover's main job is to sell the book, so stuff like hitting the bestseller lists means your covers tend not to change.

Naturally most books, they hit not the bestseller list. So all covers are changed to increase sales: sometimes sales are good, and the cover changes anyway. Why is this?

Because the publisher is like 'These sales, they are very nice, but we would like to sell MORE.'

Publishers, they never say 'Ehhhh... I think we've sold enough books.' No indeed - the 28 millionth copy of Twilight out the door is just as sweet as the first!

So sometimes, they think 'This book is selling despite the cover. We hear lots of complaints that the cover does not appeal/does not match the story. We will change it... and sell MORE!'

Sometimes, they think 'This book is selling to a certain audience. The audience this cover appeals to. But we think another audience would like this book. So let us CHANGE IT UP! (and sell more!)'

So let us go with the assumption that there are Two Kinds of Covers. Object covers, in which you are like 'Huh, that is some stuff.' And people covers, in which we are like 'Huh, those are some humans.' In the people covers, there are two subsets (watch me do the fancy maths) - covers concentrating on faces and covers concentrating on figures.

How and why do covers change? Let us go BEHIND THE CUT, and see. With guaranteed no spoilers, just lies!

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So covers, when they change, they usually change types, or change into a different subset. They go from action-y to atmosphere-y or vice versa. They reflect very different aspects of the book. It is always a big change.

And The Demon's Lexicon cover is changing from hardcover to paperback. I am most interested to hear your thoughts on what it may be like!