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Covering all the Bases

May 31, 2010

“Never judge a book by its cover” the old adage says,  but people do, so book jackets are designed to appeal.  The point of a book cover is to grab a potential reader’s attention,  to get them to think “hey, this looks like something I might like to read.”.  It’s therefor interesting when the same book, the same product, is spun in a different way to appeal to a different audience, simply by a change of cover.  Perhaps the most famous instance in recent history are the various Adult, English, and American Harry Potter covers.   I ran into another interesting example at work today while putting together a poster to promote the 2010 Arthur Ellis award winners.  Alan Bradly’s splendid The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie naturally won the best first novel award, and in searching for images for our poster,  I discovered that it’s been published with several different covers in other locations, all of which are up on the book’s website.  I found this multitude of covers surprising because the Canadian cover – the vibrant  apple-y green one – was what tempted me to pick up the book (i.e. pinch it from mum’s “to be read” pile), and still grabs my attention when browsing.  The sheer number of international licensees is staggering,  as is the diversity of the covers.  Falvia’s a doppelgänger for Wednesday Addams on the German, a cutsy-sweet girl detective in Portugal, and a nascient blond bombshell in Asia. The Brits have two covers, a dead crow on the hardcover and a rambling country house on the paperback.   The Hebrew cover is the creepiest – a dead body lying in the cucumber patch.   I leave it up to you to decide what each of these covers say about their target market.

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