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Books as ObjectsJudging Books by Their Covers: U.S. Vs. U.K.By C. Max Magee posted at 7:02 am on March 3, 2010 32

Last year we had fun comparing the U.S. and U.K. book cover designs of a sample of the Rooster contenders, so I decided to do it again with this year’s batch. There are all sorts of marketing considerations behind these designs, and it’s interesting to see how designing for these two similar markets can result in very different looks. The American covers are on the left, and clicking through takes you to a larger image. Your equally inexpert analysis is welcomed in the comments.

covercoverI love the U.S. version here. The line drawing is exquisite and it draws the reader up to the tightrope walker and into the book. In fact, the design is a wonderful visual representation of McCann’s book, which revolves around the story of Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk but is not really about it. I don’t understand the U.K. design at all. McCann’s book is soulful and serious; the U.K. cover says “silly and strange.” covercoverThe American cover wins again here. The cartoonish, half cut-off head draws you in, while the U.K. version feels more like a movie poster. Although, the illusion of movement in the U.K. design is nice and something you don’t often see on the cover of a work of literary fiction. covercoverThis time I prefer the U.K. cover. There’s something weirdly sleepy about the U.S. cover. I love the red title script on the U.K. cover. covercoverThese are both very nice for totally different reasons. The American design is bold, intriguing and eye-catching. The U.K. cover is intricate and I like how the “K” in Kingsolver bleeds off the left edge. covercoverThis is really a case study in the “exotic,” no? I’m not sure I like either of these much at all. covercoverThe American version doesn’t do much for me – a little too coy. I love the U.K. version here. I like the idea that you might paint your book cover on the side of a barn. covercoverThese are both nice and bold, but for different reasons. The U.K. cover gets the nod, though, for the string, for the wavy, watery stencil, and for those horses; for all of it, really. covercoverIf you’ve read this book, you’ll know that the American cover is ridiculous. The U.K. cover, meanwhile, is close to perfect. covercoverI don’t love either of these, but the U.S. cover is better. The U.K. cover looks like a made-for-TV movie, and this book has very little in common with a made-for-TV movie covercoverThe U.S. cover is muddled and confusing. I love the U.K. cover. There’s something intoxicating about all those things hanging off the vines. http://www.themillions.com/2010/03/judging-books-by-their-covers-u-s-vs-u-k.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+themillionsblog%2Ffedw+%28The+Millions%29

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Wow, Dale!

I just checked our analytics, and did you know you got about 2,500 readers of this blog post on August 17th? I really like the book cover comparisons, too, so I can see why it was so popular. Since no one commented, I wanted to make sure you knew it was read and enjoyed.

Ivory Madison
CEO and Editor in Chief, Red Room