Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Discussion - Book Covers

In my interview for BBAW I mentioned judging a book by its cover, but there is another cover-related topic that I have been thinking about lately. Matching. I love it when I have a series of books and they all match cover-wise. It drives me crazy when you have a long series that you are in the middle of and they change the covers suddenly. Then, they go back and change all the old book covers. This is great for people just discovering the series, but it means that if I want my matching set than I have to go rebuy the books. I am not quite that obsessed. Besides, it is one thing to do it when you have a really long series, but is it really necessary for a trilogy or smaller series?

Let's look at some examples, shall we?

Kelley Armstrong:

(Paperback) (Hardcover) (New Covers)

Shannon Hale:

(Old Covers) (New Covers)

Maria Snyder:

(Old Covers) (New Covers)

J.D. Robb:

(Old Covers) (New Covers)

Carrie Ryan:

(Old Cover) (New Cover)

So, obviously this whole thing doesn't stop me from buying books! It is just something that bothers me. Now, it is time for others to chime in. Does it bother you, even if you buy the books anyway? What are some examples of series it has happened during that has really bothered you?

(Note: I live in Canada. These are the covers that were or are readily available here. They may not represent book releases in other countries.)


  1. Oooo, a cover post!

    You know, I have the original, first release covers of the first two Kelly Armstrong books - so nothing matches in that series for me. It's frustrating, but I didn't stop buying the books because of that. (I actually stopped buying them because I stopped enjoying the series. So sad. :()

    The Shannon Hale series - the covers that were JUST released in the box set are completely different as well and have REAL people on them. And I dislike that immensely. I have been trying to find the old covers 2nd hand to get this series.

    Study series - I like the new covers. Of course those new covers are now old since there are some YA covers as well!

    I like my series to look alike. I am OCD about it, and I HATE when a publisher goes and changes the look of the books in the middle of the series. For many people you look for the covers you KNOW and it's easy to spot them.

    Shorter series bug me when it changes, but for longer-running ones like Robb, Armstrong and Laurell K Hamilton, I can see why a publisher might try to snazz it up after 10 years or so.

    But it still frustrates me! Not to mention when they go from releasing the first 4 books in a series only in mass market and then go "Oh! This is popular! We'll do HARD COVERS first now." ARGH!

  2. Anonymous2:55 PM

    I hate it to, it really bothers me with Kelley Armstrongs series because the spine is so different. It also really bugs me when a author flips from paperback to hardcover. Once again I really love Kelley Armstrong so don't get me wrong but when Bitten & Stolen came out they were both hardbacks. Then Dimestore - Broken came out in paperback so I bought Bitten & Stolen in paperback & donated my hardbacks to the library so I could have a simi matching set. Now all the books are being released in hardback & I have just given up, I have hb & pb's of the series now & just keep them separated on my shelf. I refuse to start from scratch again because they will just change it again.

  3. You're definitely on the money with this. It soooooooooo bugs me as well!! I can't afford to re-buy books so I tend to try and wait for a final set when the series is finished.

  4. I don't buy books, and am not often OCD about the covers, but I can see how it would effect people's buying habits. Like choosing to wait until the series is done before buying any of the books (which would have been hard in Shannon Hale's case...). Or waiting until everything comes out in paperback.

    It is interesting how some publishers are always tweaking with covers (Bloomsbury is really bad with that).

  5. It used to bug me but now that I trade most of my books off at paperbackswap it's not such a big deal. I keep very few books, so nothing has to match.

  6. That's something that really does bug me, and in a perfect world, all my covers would match.

    But reality is that money is tight and being in a country where getting books can be complicated means that I get what I can and put up with it.

    But I have done it a few times. I managed to convince a friend to buy my old Anne Bishop books so I could get myself a matching set with the nice, new covers.

    Mostly though, I just grumble and accept it.

  7. Kailana, first of all, I feel so guilty for not being here more often. I've missed you! So I come here and see this really good post on covers. At first I was dismissing any possible OCD I might have regarding covers....but if I'm honest, I really hate when I've started buying a series with one set of covers, and suddenly it changes halfway through. I do like them to look similar or part of a set, that's the point of buying a series - well, the story is the real point, but the covers that match add an aesthetic appeal that I love. Then the books become art and pleasing to my eye. I do admit to disliking incomplete sets too....

    I don't know that I would go so far as rebuy initial books in the series. Though you're right, then you end up with odd-looking books sitting together. Since I have a weakness for the original version of a book and cover, I've been known to give newer editions of books away and keep the old ones!

  8. To tell the truth I'm not too worried whether books match or not... and then I see a nice line of matching books on my shelf and think, 'Oooh, those look nice'. LOL. I'm nothing if not contrary. I think it depends on the books. I recently bought the 4th. Mercy Thompson book in paperback. The other three I have are the American cover but I was so chuffed to see book 4 in a UK bookshop that I just grabbed it even though it's completely different cover! Like with a lot of things I can't make my mind how I feel about this subject.

  9. I'm like you in this, Kelly. It can be frustrating to suddenly find a series I've been reading and collecting changes cover style in the middle. Or when they suddenly go from being published in one size and are now published in another. I'm not a "real" collector and so I just make do with what I have and end up with a mix-matched set. I don't have the money to spend making sure everything's perfect.

  10. I'm not bothered by this too much. I have most of the Harry Potter books in soft cover but the last two in hard. I do, occassionally think I should sell the hard and get the soft so my set matches...

    The one situation that I can think of bothering me would be if they change the Sookie Stackhouse covers to sell the HBO series. I know they've done re-issues with the actors on the cover. I hope they don't change the first editions over to it, too.

    Hey, my sister keeps telling me I'd really like JD Robb? What do you think of her? Think I'd like her? (not that you have more insight than my sister but still)


  11. Anonymous12:13 PM

    OOoh, cover thoughts!

    I'm simple: I don't mind cover changes provided I can get the full set to match. Or, if I can't, at least pretty please can I get the size to match so they look nice on the shelves?

    I had that problem with the Study series. I really like those new covers (which are now old as already pointed out) and had to hunt down a copy of the first volume because it was out of print. No other cover would do! I love those covers to bits and pieces; they just had to match!

    I'm a little more vocal about cover-matching now. Several years ago a friend of mine got me a book for my birthday, the third in a series. It's awfully sweet of her, but the cover and size don't match the other two. It's been driving me batty for as many years.

    (I will have to rebuy the whole set - in covers I loathe - just to match books if it turns out I still enjoy them enough on a reread too. *sigh*)

  12. I've been wracking my brain, and I can't actually think of a cover change that's upset me. Not for a favourite series. I'm usually thrilled with the updated covers and am happy to repurchase the older books so I have happy-making covers for the whole series. (I do usually repurchase them used, though, or search for them on BookMooch. Buying brand new books is a little out of my price range).

  13. I also prefer having matching covers/styles in a series or books by a particular author. Sometimes I will forgo buying the newer/changed version and find an older used copy that matches my other books.

  14. This drives me insane!! Not only with mismatched series books but also when all books by an author are released with matching covers then changed. Just last week I went to buy the last Kurt Vonnegut book I need (Slaughterhouse 5 and don't even ask why I waited until last to get his most famous book) anyways all the Vonneguts I own are the trade sized ones with the big V on the cover. And apparently they are all being replaced with crayola coloured covers that feature small doodles by the author. It's not that the new covers are yucky, in fact they are totally awesome looking. What bugs me is that my Slaughterhouse 5 looks completely out of place beside all his other books. So do I replace all my old ones with the new design, search for a used copy of the one mis-matched cover, or do I stop being so anal and get over it :)

    (I was also going to mention my Pratchett cover dilemma but let's just leave that with a *grrrrr*)

  15. Yep, it bugs me! I hate when the change the cover (especially if the new cover isn't as nice as the original one). I remember driving to another book store to get the original cover for Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris because I couldn't stand the HBO cover they came out with.

  16. I think if it's a series of books, then I like having the same covers for all of them, so that they match on my shelves. But I don't need an author's entire collection to match, if the books are unrelated. I like some variety. But I'm kind of a stickler on the series thing... well, as much of a stickler as I can be, anyway!

  17. Yep, I hate it! I've also came across some books that are re-issued and came up with completely different covers/designs... there were a few times I bought the books without looking at them more carefully. Yikes!

  18. I totally agree with you! Not only that but when they re-issue books with new covers you really have to pay attention that you don't already have the book! You may even think you are buying a new book!

  19. Yep, this bothers me. I like to have matching covers if I'm buying a whole series. The last series where I remember being very annoyed was with Deanna Raybourns books - the first two books had really nice matching covers (although one was a MMP and the other a trade paperback) but with book nº3 they completely changed. Instead of beautiful and artistic they now look like any common romance novel out there. Not a problem if they were romance I suppose but they were mysteries...


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