Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week, mine has been relatively quiet for the most part. I wasn’t really sure what to write about for this first discussion post of August, but then this week with all of the talk around the new covers for Sabaa Tahir’s Ember in The Ashes series, I figured that it was the perfect opportunity to talk about one of my biggest pet peeves: mid series cover changes.
I’d like to preface this by saying that Ember’s cover changes were merely an inspiration for this post, I think it’s great that Sabaa Tahir insisted on changing the covers so that POC could see themselves on book covers and I’m excited to collect the series with the new covers, I’m talking about mid series cover changes in a general sense here, it was just inspired by today’s announcement.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced this before, you start reading a series, you fall in love, but not all the books are out yet. You wait and you wait and you wait for the title and cover for the next book in the series to be released only to discover….the cover has been changed! The horror! What ever shall you do? Do you buy the series over again with the new covers? Do you collect the series with mismatching covers? Do you stop reading altogether? (Okay that last one is seriously over-dramatic and I would never do that, but you get it, mid series cover changes, big deal for me).
I’m sure publishers have perfectly good reasons for changing series covers, there could be a theme that better suits the book, they want to attract new readers with brand new covers, they want to refresh the series…..I don’t know the reasons could be endless. But for me and I’m sure plenty of other readers like me, I need my covers to match. I need my series with the same covers in the same format. And I wouldn’t be surprised if publishers were exploiting that, knowing that readers like their covers to match, so they release new ones in order to gain even more sales, knowing that die hard fans will buy the books over again so that their covers will match with the new ones. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me being cynical, but it would explain why so many series get multiple different covers!
But here’s the thing: I’m a student, I don’t have endless money to be spending on multiple copies of books when they suddenly redesign the covers mid series. The same goes for the teens who are the primary audience of these books, they’re not necessarily going to be able to afford multiple copies of the same book just because the cover has changed. Waiting until the series is over to publish copies with new covers? Cool, more choice for everyone! Changing the cover mid series, forcing those who really cannot manage having mismatched covers, who may not actually have the money to do so? Not so cool.
Also I tend to find that I don’t like the new covers as much as the original ones? Now of course there are exceptions to this (there are some really great Harry Potter covers out there, the Throne of Glass covers are way better than the original one) but for the most part, cover redesigns don’t usually improve on the original cover. We then end up with an ugly book, alongside our pretty ones, which not only doesn’t match, but is also not as good as the originals? Hell no.
You also get the much feared movie tie in cover, when a series book becomes a movie and suddenly that book’s cover needs to be changed to the movie poster. These covers are usually really ugly and when the movie tie in cover comes out, the original cover suddenly becomes scarce and you can’t get hold of it, meaning you either have to wait until all the movie tie in covers are released in order to have a matching set (which will likely not be as pretty as the original cover), or you have one book with the movie tie in cover and the rest without. Not ideal.
But Jo, you say, not all cover redesigns are bad. And I agree, not all cover redesigns are bad, I’m not saying that the principle itself is a bad thing. Redesigning the cover is basically like a book undergoing a regeneration for future readers and if it helps introduce new readers to the story, that isn’t a bad thing. Harry Potter for instance has undergone multiple cover changes. As have Cassandra Clare’s books, as have The Hunger Games. The difference here is that the series was complete when the redesigns occurred, so no possibility of mismatching covers.
It wouldn’t be a discussion about covers, without some examples, so for the rest of this post, I’m going to pick out some book series that underwent mid series cover change and talk about whether I liked them better before or after the redesign:
First off, the mid series cover changes I didn’t like:
- The Bone Season
Before cover change
I just started reading The Bone Season series this year (have now read the first two released books and have only the third to read) and I got the first two covers pre cover change as I really liked them. Of course I then realised that those covers weren’t available for book three (I think she did some limited ones with the same covers as books 1 & 2) so I now have a hardback with a different cover (#bookwormnightmare). I actually liked the original cover so much better for this one, you have the Seven Dials, the poppy anemone and the anchor of Scion all represented, plus the blue background is so much more captivating. The new cover with the white background and the red flower is perfectly fine, and it’s not a bad cover redesign per se, but I do think the first one just pops a bit more.
2. Throne of Glass
So the Throne of Glass series has actually been pretty consistent so far, I think there was a cover change at the start of the series but all the UK covers have been the same thus far. Until now. So for some reason the publishers have decided to go with a different theme for the upcoming Chaol book. Now how hard would it be to have a guy in a wheelchair in a similar pose to the one Celaena does normally? No instead, the cover is a symbol on a blue background. Me thinks I smell a rat here……
Original TOG series cover
Tower of Dawn cover:
Not only does the Tower of Dawn cover not really have a cohesive connection with the other books (YOU WOULDN’T NEED THE WORDS A THRONE OF GLASS NOVEL, if it was in the same style as the rest of the TOG books) but the fact that the only book in the series not to have a person on the cover is the book that features a wheelchair-bound protagonist………yeah that’s not cool at all.
3. Young Sherlock Holmes
Okay this one really bugged me because by the time they did the cover change, there were already 6 books in the series out! So I have books 1-6 in the first cover style and books 7 & 8 in the second cover style and of course 7 & 8 haven’t been released in the original style, so yup, you guessed it, my covers don’t match! I wouldn’t say the original covers were my favourite series covers anyway, but I really hate the new covers. The stock model cover photo trend is just not something I like? I would say that both covers need to relate more to the book, as I wouldn’t say you can really tell much about the story from either cover, but I still think the first one is more engaging.
So the first four books in the Unwind series have this theme:
It’s cool, it’s creepy, the black, white and red work so well together and they look so cool together on the shelf.
Okay so the unravelling string does kind of go with the theme of unwinding, but it doesn’t match the rest of my books, and I know it’s a short story collection in the universe rather than a continuation of the series, but I feel like it should still match? And the first cover was so much cooler and creepier!
Now, the ones I did:
- Throne Of Glass
Yup okay, so I have it on both sides of the list, I know, it’s weird, but TOG actually had a cover change early in the series as well. Luckily it never made it across this side of the pond, but it could have done if it hadn’t been changed!
So I think we can agree the after is way better right? This is probably just me again not really liking the whole cover model trend, but I feel like the girl on the right is much fiercer than the girl on the left?
2. Shatter Me
Now I haven’t read this series, so I can’t speak to which one represents the book better, but I much prefer the floating eye to the girl in the dress, I feel like it’s more striking? I don’t know, honestly neither is my favourite cover in the world, but I think the one on the right definitely has the edge.
3. Tales of The Peculiar
Okay so this is a bit of a weird one as like Unbound, Tales of The Peculiar isn’t really part of the Miss Peregrine’s Series, it’s a collection of short stories set in the same universe as the Miss Peregrine’s series (also one I haven’t read). But unlike with Unbound, I actually prefer the cover of Tales of The Peculiar to the original Miss Peregrine’s series, though I can’t speak to how either reflect the book as I am yet to read them!
So this is the original Miss Peregrines cover:
I mean it’s not a bad cover and I know that old photographs are a feature of the book, so it makes sense that this would be the cover, but little girls kind of freak me out so the idea of having this on my shelf……..not great.
And this is Tales of The Peculiar:
This cover however, is gorgeous and doesn’t freak me out at all!
4. Red Queen
This is a slightly different case to the others as there is now a collectors edition of Red Queen as well as the original cover, so you don’t actually have to buy mismatched covers, (can I get a hallelujah?) but I actually like the collectors’ cover more than the original!
I love the minimalism of this cover and from it, you can see the main theme of the series, the red blood dripping from the silver crown, symbolising the Reds Vs the Silvers.
The collector’s edition follows the same theme as the original cover, with the crown and the blood, but I think the red background just pops a bit more. Of course, I can’t be sure they’ll do collector’s editions of the entire series, so I won’t buy them, but if they were to do the other covers in this design too, I would be welcoming of the change!
So there we go, some hit and some miss mid series cover changes. It was much easier to come up with the ones I didn’t like than the ones I did! I don’t really consider myself to be obsessive about many things, but I definitely like my book covers to be matching, and books in the same format. It just makes for a more pleasing bookshelf! Having said that, I would never boycott an author’s work just because I didn’t like the cover. After all the contents are the most important thing are they not?
What do you think? Are matching covers important to you or do you not care? Can you think of series that have undergone mid series changes for the better? Or for the worst? Do you like the new Ember covers (if you’ve seen them)? Let me know in the comments!
I will have another August discussion post up, probably quite soon as I know what I’m going to be writing about, I’m going to be talking about fans expectations of authors and whether we’ve come to have a sense of entitlement about getting to interact with our favourite authors. In the meantime, I’m hoping to have a new review up by the end of the week, although I can’t promise anything, it’s dependent on me finishing my current read!