Wednesday 28 October 2009

Having a grumpy moment

As a teacher of Graphic Design I really appreciate attractive book packaging and so I become a little disappointed when I feel that the covers of UK editions are not as attractive as their US counterparts.

Fortunately this doesn't happen too often but two books that have recently landed on my doormat have caused me to frown more than a little. The first of these was Scott Westerfeld's "Leviathan". Don't get me wrong - the cover of the UK edition is a stunning illustration by Keith Thompson, who also produced the beautiful black and white illustrations throughout the book. But I really did fall in love with the cover of the US edition when I first saw it. There is something about the Steampunk aesthetic that really appeals to me, and I feel that the US cover (on the left) is a stunning example of this.

The other book cover that has me slightly disappointed is Rick Yancey's "The Monstrumologist". Not only are the covers widely different in design, but these differences seem to add a little confusion as to who the target audience actually is. Now I've made my thoughts on age-banding very clear in a previous post so this possible confusion isn't my issue here - I just think the cover of US edition (left) is far more in keeping with the Gothic, dark tone of the story (or as much of it as I have read so far), evoking images of mad Victorian scientists and illicit experiements. The UK cover is fairly generic of many recent UK horror book covers (Darren Shan's Demonata series?); it is "cartoon-ish" in nature and may attract younger readers who could find some of the content a little too dark.

I guess there will be a lot of people out there who will disagree with me; after all, it is really just a matter of personal taste, but it would be interesting to hear the publisher's reasoning for making changes such as these. And why the need to add the subtitle "The Terror Beneath" to "The Monstrumologist"?

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