Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Why the Paperback Edition Can Have a Very Different Cover

WSJ's Jeffery Trachtenberg looks at the new cover for the paperback edition of Brando Skyhorse's The Madonna's of Echo Park and the changes from the original hardcover edition. The reasoning for the change, in this case, is very sound. I've often wondered how in the world they have gone with covers so dramatically different than the original. Here, though, the publishers still get it wrong. The original had it's issues, but they've made the paperback even more offputting. Maybe they're hoping to capture the book club set, but they've made me less likely to pick it up.

Here are some other cases where they seemed to get it wrong.

Can you tell which one's were the original hardcover dust jackets and which covers graced the paperback?

The original black and white cover of Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone was mysterious, trying to convey the bitter cold of the novel. Yet when the book went to paperback, the aesthetic was lighter, emphasizing the young female lead, complete with hanging laundry in the snow to convey they rugged domesticity. It isn't horrible, but a little light for how heavy the book is.

Alice Munro's dust jacket for the hardcover of A View From Castle Rock uses an aged portrait to convey exactly what the book is: a telling of a family history. And I don't know what exactly the publishers were thinking with the paperback cover. Nothing about the text really identifies it as as a ladies' beach read. I understand that we'll use any technique to catch the chick lit audience, but I don't know that we should go so far as to mislead readers.

I am always prepared for the cover change from hardback to paperback, and I'll always be grateful when the cover remains the same.

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