On Cover Changes
We all know the old saying; don’t judge a book by it’s cover. In spite of this, it’s something we all find ourselves doing, especially when the unthinkable happens and our favourite series undergo cover changes mid-way through the series.
Earlier this week it was announced that the third book in Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season series was going to feature a new look, and that the first two books in the series would be redesigned to fit the new look. Somewhat expectedly, this news was met with scepticism — after all, the original covers for the series are highly regarded, and book lovers have been disappointed in the past with some terrible re-designs. As Samantha Shannon states in a blog post discussing the new covers, “Mid-series cover changes can be nerve-racking for authors, as they’re beyond our control, and I know they can be just as nerve-racking for existing readers of a series.”
Now that the re-designed covers of The Bone Season, The Mime Order, and The Song Rising have been revealed, readers worldwide have been able to breath a sigh of relief, with reaction to the new covers being fairly positive. The covers have only slightly been altered, going for a fresher and cleaner design in a similar style as the originals rather than an entirely new design. While some fans are disappointed that they’ll have to buy new copies of the first two books in order for their copy of the series to match, an effort has been made to have the spine of The Song Rising similar to that of the first two books in order to have them match when on a reader’s shelf.
While there hasn’t been any official word on why Bloomsbury has chosen to redesign these covers mid-way through the series, there are numerous reasons why publishers have decided to redesign covers in the past. Some are changed to increase sales, with the hope that fresh new covers will rejuvenate interest in a series. Others are in the hopes to entice new readers from different demographics. One of the most dreaded things for a reader to consider is when movie adaptations of a popular book is to be released, prompting the publisher to release what many readers say with a scoff: movie tie-in covers featuring movie posters on the cover, limiting the readers imagination to picture the characters and understand the tone of the novel for themselves. Overall, when books are rebranded with new covers, it’s really just a marketing tool. It’s a way for the publisher to make more money, which is what makes it problematic for many people — not everyone can afford to buy multiple copies of the same book just to have it match the new designs, and often feel let down when the publishers might expect them to.
It is generally known now that we are likely to see cover changes for popular series after they are completed. For example, in 2014, new editions of the Percy Jackson series were released, as were Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices books in 2015. In the nine years since the final Harry Potter book was released, there have been many re-designs released to appeal to just about every available demographic. However, what fans don’t mind about cover changes like this are the fact that they come after the series has been completed, and they don’t feel pressured into buying them as they already have a matching set.
Whenever redesigned covers are announced, some might often think back to one of the most jarring cover changes that we’ve seen; the Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis, which has been through multiple redesigns between the first and last books being released. The first two books were released with silhouettes of the main characters against a backdrop of the universe, however the third book was redesigned to be typography based with the titles in front of sheets of metal. While the new covers may better fit the story, the drastic change left many fans of the series incredibly disappointed.
In contrast to this, we could look at the redesigned covers for Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss series, where the cover change for the final book in the series was met with overwhelming positivity when the covers went from having models as the focus point to being more typography based.
When considering cover changes like these, it’s clear to see why readers were sceptical when it came to The Bone Season‘s cover changes, but now that they’ve been revealed, it’s clear to see that the changes haven’t been too drastic. Whereas reaction to Across the Universe‘s cover change was infuriating, and Anna and the French Kiss’s was hugely positive, The Bone Season’s is somewhere in the middle. It’s a relief to many that they have a similar style, and irritating to others that they have a similar style — prompting questions as to why the change was needed. In the end, surely the text within the covers is the most important thing? Because, as we all know, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.