Bookish Ramblings – Book Covers, Art or Marketing Opportunity?

So as you all know I’ve recently taken up bookstagramming which combined with my move away from ebooks has meant a new lease of life for my bookshelf.  It has made me look at and appreciate beautiful book covers at a new level, to seek out the unusual and colourful offerings.  A few weeks ago I saw that the “His Dark Materials” trilogy had released new covers and after coveting them since, I picked up Northern Lights and The Amber spyglass today (sadly no Subtle Knife).  All good and lovely, however, when picking up the Amber Spyglass I was frustrated to find that there was a sticker advertising the fact that the first chapter of “The Book of Dust” was included (I hate the residue the stickers leave) but then I realised that it wasn’t a sticker at all but it was actually printed into the gorgeous cover!  I was so upset that the cover had been marred in this way, thankfully as I went back through the shelf there were 2 older versions which didn’t have that addition so I managed to leave happy.  However it really got me thinking as to why the publisher chose to do that?

It’s long been a bugbear of mine that when a book gets made into a TV show or a film that the publisher chooses to update the cover to match, American Gods and the Handmaids Tale are the most recent examples, with it’s stars emblazoned across the front rather than the original cover design.  I’m sure that there is a plausible marketing formula for it, but is it really necessary?  In fact when researching this post I looked up American Gods on Amazon and the new cover is labelled as “mass market paperback” #sigh.  If anything I am less likely to buy a book with a “tie in” cover, because usually they just aren’t very good. Similarly, with The Amber Spyglass, it’s clearly being marketed as an exciting extra but then surely a sticker can easily achieve this?

At a time where paperbacks are experiencing a resurgence, bookcases are becoming displays, and the huge bookstagram community are championing beautiful covers, it’s baffling as to why publishers want to change the covers to something that’s simply less.  It’s of course only a good thing that the serialisation of these books bring people round to wanting to read them, but then is it insulting to readers that they have to be drawn to it by a book cover that matches the DVD?  Like readers are unable to figure out who wrote something and then follow a simple alphabetical system in the book shop?

Maybe it’s just me, but then it’s clear that whilst looking up some other titles that there is a move back to traditional covers after the initial excitement.  I remember how awful the Game of Thrones tie in cover was, just Sean Bean sat on the Iron Throne, but now they are back to wonderful decorative covers.  It’s obviously all down to timing.  Had “The Book Of Dust” not been due for release in a couple of days I may have missed this compromised cover entirely and then what would I have rambled about?

How about you, do you mind tie in covers?  Do you agree that they aren’t necessary? Maybe you can change my mind with a tie in cover which surpasses the original!

2 thoughts on “Bookish Ramblings – Book Covers, Art or Marketing Opportunity?

  1. I love covers…I just got a paperback of Tales of The City by Armistead Maupin and it's a gorgeous pencil sketch of San Francisco. In the right bottom corner there is a promo printed about how the book includes "New Insights, Interviews, and More" It's tiny so it's not a big upset, but I hate when it's done and takes up a large space. I absolutely won't buy books with the "movie" poster used as the cover. I hate it. Husband on the other hand likes clean and simple! To my horror, he takes the jackets off of hardbacks and likes them plain (insert horror emoji) We definitely don't share books or book space.


  2. That sounds like it was sympathetically matched in with the cover so that's good at least! I have to say i'm on the fence with dust jackets, I think without them the shelf really has an old school library feel but I do miss the vibrancy of the covers and mine do stay on. There have been some fab bookstagram posts i've seen of books without jackets but then that's just a staged photo – i expect the covers went straight back on! Thanks for the comment, i'm glad im not alone with the movie tie ins!


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