Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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US vs UK book covers

Interesting post at the Literary Hub site, comparing covers. Wow, some of them are so different.

I should add, none of these are SFF covers. But they’re interesting!

My responses:

a) I would never in a zillion years have printed the words backward on a cover. Not only would I not have thought of that, I hate it. I literally couldn’t figure out the title Notes from the Fog without looking at the US cover. Plus I don’t like the cover image either. So for me, the UK cover is a big failure. I wouldn’t say I like the US cover either, though. Tiny, tiny print on an image of unidentifiable equipment doesn’t do it for me. If you click through and know what that equipment is, well, what?

b) For There There, the UK is the one I prefer, and I like it okay, though in a somewhat “well, whatever” kind of way.

c) Evenings in Paradise. Both are okay. I like the bright splash of yellow.

d) Killing Commendator. Hmm. Tough. Fine, okay, the one with the owl.

e) Asymmetry. The US cover. For a change, I agree with all the comments over at the post.

Okay …. glancing over the whole lineup, I see I prefer the US cover fairly strongly or very strongly to the UK cover on five out of sixteen covers. I prefer the UK cover fairly or very strongly for just one. In general, US audiences are expected to prefer US covers and vice versa, so that rule does hold here.

Out of all 32 covers, I find eight covers actually repellent, thus demonstrating, I guess, that I am not the target audience for literary book covers. For me, the worst, most repulsive cover is … no, hey, I don’t want to bias you. If you’ve got time, click through, scan through the covers, pick the ones you like most and least, and we’ll see if we all agree.

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7 Comments US vs UK book covers

  1. Elaine T

    I saw some of these at TPV and don’t care much for any of them.
    Of those PG extracted Ordinary People was repellent.
    Of the rest also Mars Room, Immortalist and Witch Elm.
    The one with the fly is in a class all by itself, and not a good one.

  2. Craig N.

    Not to get a trend going, but I agree with Elaine that the US cover of Crudo is the worst.
    I am not exactly repulsed, but deeply underwhelmed by the UK cover of Notes from the Fog (same reason as you), the US cover of The Mars Room (which looks like “The Mans Room”), and the UK cover of Freshwater (which looks like the back cover).

    Clearly I’m not the target audience for any of these. I do think the US cover image of Convenience Store Woman is oddly charming, even if the title undercuts it. And the text on the cover of The Immortalists (UK) would actually catch my eye in a good way.

  3. Robert

    I prefer the US covers except for Evening in Paradise, Killing Commendatore, Crudo, and Ordinary People. But “prefer” is almost too strong. Some of them are just less awful than the other.

    None of them are interesting enough that I’d be tempted to read them.

    For most repellent, it’s a toss-up between UK Notes from the Fog and US Crudo.

  4. Sarah Zatko

    Both Crudo covers are gross, and I found the US Ordinary People to be pretty disturbing, too. Definitely not books marketed to me. It’d be interesting to do this for books I actually have some interest in.

  5. Rachel

    The US Crudo cover may be more tolerable to me because biology-related stuff often doesn’t gross me out that much. This dismembered fly doesn’t bother me, though certainly it doesn’t make me want to pick up the book. (Hardly.) My choice for most repellent is actually the UK cover for Normal People. That’s the one with the skeletal person in the anchovy tin. Ugh on every level.

    The angry expression of the woman on the US cover of The Mars Room is also extremely unappealing, but the scratched-out face of the woman on the UK version of Mothers is even worse and gets second place in most repellent cover for me.

  6. Elaine T

    Looks again at the OP. Huh.. I had to look hard to see what was actually on that Normal People cover. And I completely glazed over Mothers.

    I’m notoriously bad at visual detail, but that seems extreme even for me.

    Clearly the marketing thought behind those covers was not aimed at me.

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