The Book Cover Wars: UK vs. USA – Part 2

So, last week, inspired by The Millions, I compared the UK and US covers of some of the books I’ve reviewed on this blog. This week, I’ll be comparing the rest of the book covers from this blog. Fun times. As before, UK on the left, US on the right.

First up is this gem of a book by Emmanuel Carrere. What’s interesting about this book is that the UK and US publishers have each chosen to publish this book under different names: ‘Other Lives But Mine’ – UK, and ‘Lives Other Than My Own’ – US. I’m genuinely not sure which title or cover I prefer (which sorta defeats the purpose of this post). From what I understand, the US cover does have this tattered notebook printed on it, it’s not the notebook that’s the actual book. I find that a bit odd and I’m not sure what it’s supposed to say about the book either. And I (surprisingly) get the oversimplification of the main themes of this book by putting two hands holding onto each other on the cover, but think the UK cover, which depicts the devastating tsunami that is central to the story, ultimately does it better. Even if a bit flat.

A total no-brainer. I am completely shocked that the UK book cover was ever allowed to see the light of day. Honestly one of the worst covers I’ve EVER seen. Which is a shame because the book deserves to be read. But you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a poorly constructed textbook for young children. The hatred I feel for this cover cannot be fully expressed through words. It honestly offends me. Which is why the US wins. But neither of them have nothing on these amazing covers I found on this website.

Because this is one of my favourite reads of last year, I find it difficult to say anything negative about it. Difficult but not impossible :). UK has opted for boy running in field whilst US have gone for blurry image of father and son playing in the ocean. I quite like the colour tone of the photograph on the UK cover (though it has very little to do with the story), so my first instinct would be to pick that edition up. But when I look very carefully at the American version, I notice things like the ‘good’ in the title to be written roughly in pencil, giving varying connotations to the word. So, at a push, the subtlety of the US cover wins over the shelf appeal of the UK.

So this is a slight anomaly because it hasn’t been published in America. So the cover on the right is the German edition (I think). As the UK cover seduced me a very long time ago, I think it’s obvious which one I’m going for. I find the cover so strikingly beautiful. And so stark and spare – exactly like Judith Hermann’s prose style. The protruding nipple on the German cover gives a Lolita-esque impression that is neither titillating nor accurate.

Although it’s a bit unfair because the UK copied the US hardback cover to produce this paperback one on the left, and the somewhat less appealing US example I’ve used here is their paperback version; I’m gonna say UK wins. The silhouette of the little girl on the country road work very well as it’s an image that haunts the characters in the book. The US one is a bit meh.

If my memory serves me right, the American version was published by Amazon Publishing (don’t even get me started) who clearly had no idea how to capture the humour of the novel so thought they’d date it and make it look like a manual. Although a bit literal, the UK cover has a nice texture to it and uses a much more interesting font.


Both sides of the pond opted for the same cover. It’s certainly eye-catching and I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t influence my decision to buy the book. But after reading these stories, I’m not sure that it necessarily has anything to do with anything. Does this matter?

A fascinating book with good, very different covers on both sides! I know that lobster has helped to sell many books here in England and I can see why – It’s very intriguing. The US cover hints at a dinner that is not as simple as the title implies. The burnt tablecloth revealing the title details underneath mimics the reading process where we discover the true nature of the narrator as the dinner progresses. The curiously curly/scratchy font also works really well. Well done to America.

thisiswhereileaveuAgain, both sides have the same cover. I don’t hate it, I don’t love it. People who read Jonathan Tropper read him because they’ve heard that he is one of the funniest authors out there, not because his book covers are amazing. I know this is being made into a film (CANNOT WAIT!! EEEK), and I dread the day when the book is reprinted with the movie cover. Those covers are NEVER appealing.

As it was the UK cover that prompted me to read this anticlimactic book, it makes sense for me to pick it over the US one. If you haven’t read the book yet then the US cover is just a girl standing in front of a house. Having said that, the woman’s legs (presumably swimming) in the water, though somewhat creepy, has absolutely nothing to do with this book. But it’s certainly more striking, and as it’s a publisher’s job to sell books, I understand why they went for it.

I’ll be reviewing this quite funny book next week (I promise). Both publishers went with the same idea but executed it in a slightly different way, and I prefer the UK version. The US one is certainly more angular, which I found strangely appealing, but the differing fonts used for title and author’s name is very irritating (also the placement of the author’s name?!?!). And unless you’ve already read the book, you wouldn’t make the reference that those blue triangles behind Bernadette’s head are actually icebergs. The UK wins by only a tiny amount because something about the cover screams chick-lit, which this book definitely isn’t.

So that’s the end of these cover comparisons. The UK won this time around – 6 to 3, so maybe these publishers know what appeals to us more than we do. But then, the US won in my last cover comparison, so perhaps there is no science behind the art.


The Book Cover Wars: UK vs. USA

We all judge books by their cover. Fact. Something that I’ve always been aware of is how books over here (England) are produced very differently from those in the US (down to the actual texture of the books) –  the idea being that those of us here in the UK respond to cover images differently to those in the US. After seeing this done on The Millions, I was interested to see how the UK and US covers for the books I’ve been reviewing on this blog, differ from one another and which I prefer. I’ve picked the best cover from each side of the pond, whether it be the paperback or the hardback cover. Your expert opinions and comments are most welcome. UK covers on the left, US on the right.

My first ever review was ‘A Visit From the Goon Squad’. I love the bold simplicity of the US cover and that bright aqua colour, and I also love the raining musical notes on the UK one. I’m not sure which one I prefer to be honest, but at a push, the UK cover better captures the random, unclassifiable quirkiness of the book.

HowToBeBlack_3D_w_LowResThis is a great book  that has been published in exactly the same way everywhere. The simplicity of the textbook-like cover works well in reiterating the tongue in cheek How-To manual feel. I prefer the white on black.

I don’t think either of these hit the mark, but the American version even less so. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with these covers if they’re looked at independently of the actual story of this book. But in the context of Germany during World War II, the UK cover gives a better sense of place and captures the mystery of the story. UK wins.

This is not even a question; US wins, hands down. I hate the UK cover. You can almost imagine the brief for the photo shoot: get a little girl, have her hold some lemons and make her look kinda thoughtful and sad. It’s so literal and so uninspired. And don’t even get me started on that curly ‘book club’ font. The chocolate (and presumably lemon) cake on the US cover looks great. Yes, I have a weakness for cake, but if you look at the shadow of the cake it’s of a person – a little more intriguing than ‘girl holding lemons’. My review of the book is here.

I have no idea what the UK publishers were thinking with this. It’s so incredibly flat; I have no idea what’s going on. Although I like the tagline of the UK cover, the US one wins for the sheer fact that it doesn’t look like it was put together in 1981 and bothers to make reference to the dictionary aspect of the novel.

Back when I read this book last summer, I harped on about the cover (the UK one), and I’ll do so again. I absolutely LOVE it. It’s a book that I bought full price from the bookstore (something I rarely do) because I just had to have it on my bookshelf. It is simply beautiful. The washed out wateriness of the text and the way the black bleeds into the page edges is simply breathtaking in the flesh (I often find myself stroking it for no apparent reason).

Both the UK and the US went for the same approach. I think black/white/grey is more striking than the red/pink/white combo on the American jacket, and I also think the not necessarily positive quotes on the UK cover make you want to pick it up. But way better than either of these is the jacket on the right. I THINK it’s an American cover, but not sure what edition. The naked female body lighter is very clean and modern and has the air of that postmodern sh*t you get in art galleries where you put a box in a room and call it ‘art’; but it works! It captures the explicit sex of the book quite well.

I like how these covers approach the notion of spring from completely different sides – the sunshine and the inevitable rain. There’s definitely an air of romance in the dusky sunshine of the UK cover, and I love the hazy, translucent lettering of the title. And I also like the eye-catching red umbrella on the US cover, the words ‘spring’ on it almost tongue-in-cheek. For this latter reason, I think the US have really understood the essence of David Szalay’s painfully true account of romance in a modern city.

No contest. US wins. The symmetry of the chairs appeals to me quite a bit and also has an element of musical chairs to it – marries well with the idea of a waltz. Book review here.

Wow, I’m surprisingly very much on the side of the Americans with these covers! I didn’t expect this! The randomness of the dirty Converse on a book titled ‘What the Dog Saw‘ really works for me. The literalness of the dog on the UK cover, not so much.

US cover – house with happy family in it – YAWN. I’m not even quite sure what that picture is trying to say. But the UK one – genius. LOVE. IT. The house inside the jar very effectively relates the idea of a family trapped inside their own personal grief.

So I think the Americans win this time around – 6 to 5. Tune in next week (let’s hope I get my sh*t together) for part 2 of the BCWs (book cover wars) where I’ll compare some more covers of the books I’ve reviewed on this blog. Until then, Happy Easter folks!!