Archive for November, 2009

Hide Me, Quick!

Posted in book covers, double dips, stock photos, trends on November 29, 2009 by Jacket Whys

When I was three years old, my dad took me trick-or-treating for the first time. I loved candy. Even so (the story goes), when I got home I dumped all my candy on the rug and separated it into piles, like with like. I couldn’t eat it until it was all sorted out.
This may have been the first hint that I would ultimately end up being a librarian. I loved categorizing and sorting things. Couldn’t play with them (or eat them) until they were in their proper order.
I’m guessing this is the same compulsion that pushes me to categorize book covers. The brain is a mysterious organ.
So I present you with another set – another mini-trend. It is a sly way to do the partial face thing – make the face unrecognizable by hiding a part of it behind a book (or a notebook, or a letter). The books: Sucks To Be Me by Kimberly Pauley (Wizards of the Coast 2008), The Rule of Won by Stefan Petrucha (Walker 2008), Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? edited by Marissa Walsh (Clarion 2008), and You’ve Got Blackmail by Rachel Wright (Putnam 2009).

I rarely see a book review blogger comment much on the cover, but a 20-something reviewer of Rule of Won had this to say: “I’ve always made a concerted effort to not judge books based on their jacket art, but I’m ashamed to admit that the cover of The Rule of Won is so uninspiring that I just couldn’t help it.” This reviewer was turned off by the brown-ness of the cover but is “happy to report that the contents of the novel are more appealing than falling in a puddle of sloshy mud.” (My advice to the reviewer: No need to be ashamed. Everyone does it…).

For some reason, whenever I pick out a composition that is used on teen book covers, I often find it used on books that refer to teens as well  – parenting books usually, but in this case, a book about writing for them. The stock photo here is the same as the one used on Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?

Sucks to Be Me: When sixteen-year-old Mina is forced to take a class to help her decide whether or not to become a vampire like her parents, she also faces a choice between her life-long best friend and the boy she has a crush on versus new friends and possible boyfriends in her mandatory “vampire lessons.” Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Book Trailer. Interview with the author 1, 2.
Rule of Won: Caleb Dunne, the quintessential slacker, is pressured by his girlfriend to join a high school club based on The Rule of Won, which promises to fulfill members’ every “crave,” but when nonbelievers start being ostracized and even hurt, Caleb must act. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Author interview.
Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?: Short stories by popular teen authors. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3.
You’ve Got Blackmail: When she discovers that her loathsome English teacher is being threatened by an unknown blackmailer, Loz gets caught up in the mystery, with consequences both comical and truly dangerous. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2.
Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks (Sourcebooks 2009): “Everything you need to know from crafting the idea to landing a publishing deal.” Reviews 1, 2.

Double Dip Outers & Other Linkage

Posted in book covers, double dips, stock photos on November 28, 2009 by Jacket Whys

A lot more outers of double-dips have cropped up since I started this blog (or maybe I just missed them before).

Here are a few to check out:
She Reads and Reads tags them “Similar Covers
Pop Culture tags them “Lookalikes
Today’s Adventure has a few “Cover Look Alikes” (you may have to search “look alikes”)

There’s an interesting set of covers at “Reusable Cover Art in Historical Novels: A Gallery” that resides on a library job posting site. And then there are single postings: at Scott Westerfeld’s blog, Forks High School Professor, Entertainment Weekly’s Shelf Life, Enough With the Fireflies! (I love them all) at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’,
A Salon article talks about cover look alikes. And a New York Times article calls cover double-dips “the publishing equivalent of arriving at a party wearing the same dress as the hostess.” It offers a good explanation for the phenomenon: “Top agencies charge $1,200 to $1,500 a photograph, and twice that for exclusive rights, a premium publishers are loath to pay.” Why of course. It necessarily comes down to $$$.

Other bloggers have other features. For “Cover Stories” look at Melissa Walker’s blog. Pop Culture also does “Hardcover vs. Paperback,” pointing out cover makeovers (I also love “Waiting on Wednesday,” a series highlighting new books yet to be released). General book cover stuff is here at Trashionista.

Recognizable Style: David Frankland

Posted in book covers, book designers, illustration, paperback changes, recognizable style on November 17, 2009 by Jacket Whys

In my last post, I matched covers to a particular artist without knowing for sure it was the same artist. Thanks to Lisa Chellman, who identified the artist in the comments, I have now taken a tour through David Frankland’s work. I want to share some more of it here, because I know you will recognize many of these – and you can have the aha! moment that I had. It’s fun to have these all connected.
The style here is recognizable. But it seems there is enough difference from cover to cover to keep boredom from setting in.

I find the U.S. editions of Paul Bajoria’s series (below right) pretty unattractive. Too bad they didn’t have the British covers (left)…

Frankland has also done covers (UK) for some of Diana Wynne Jones’ books (Charmed Life, The Pinhoe Egg, for example) . They are also very different from the U.S. versions.

A Darkling Plain by Philip Reeve (EOS 2007) Hungry City Chronicles: While dealing with people from their past and treachery from unexpected sources, Tom, Hester, and Wren return to save the world.
Double Life by Justin Richards (Putnam 2005) Invisible Detective series: After finding a mysterious stone and an old casebook, fourteen-year-old Arthur finds himself remembering the 1936 adventures of a boy named Art who, under the identity of the Invisible Detective, works with three friends in London to solve the mystery of sinister puppets who are replacing real people.
The Cabinet of Wonders
by Marie Rutkoski (Farrar 2008): Twelve-year-old Petra, accompanied by her magical tin spider, goes to Prague hoping to retrieve the enchanted eyes the Prince of Bohemia took from her father, and is aided in her quest by a Roma boy and his sister.
Highway Cats
by Janet Taylor Lisle (Philomel 2008): A hard-bitten group of mangy highway cats is changed forever after the mysterious arrival of three kittens.
The Animals of Farthing Wood
by Colin Dann (Egmont 2007, c1979 – first published for the adult market?): The animals of Farthing Wood attempt to reach the safety of White Park after a fire breaks out in their woods.
The Whispering Road
by Livi Michael (Putnam 2005): In Victorian England, poverty-stricken, orphaned siblings Joe and Annie escape from the abusive farmer they work for and try to survive in Manchester, with help from a friendly tramp, a mysterious dog-woman, and a renegade printer who supports the rights of the poor.
The Printer’s Devil
by Paul Bajoria (Little Brown 2005): After printing the “Wanted” posters for some of London’s most notorious inhabitants, a printer’s boy is entangled, by a genuine convict, in a series of mistaken identities and events leading back to the boy’s own mysterious past.
The God of Mischief
by Paul Bajoria (Little Brown 2007, c2005): The twins, Mog and Nick have to unearth the secrets of their past to escape the dangers they face in their present life.


Posted in book covers, color on November 16, 2009 by Jacket Whys

I’ve been noticing this very effective cover treatment on  a number of books recently – Joe Rat by Mark Barratt (Eerdmans 2009), Newsgirl by Liza Ketchum (Viking 2009), The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (Atheneum 2009, c1972) and Attica by Garry Kilworth (Little, Brown UK 2006) to name a few. Their backgrounds look like posterized photos. Background color is almost monochromatic or evenly blends from one color to another. The silhouetted figures are so similarly drawn, with same kinds of angles and shadows (especially the second two), that it makes me wonder if these are all done by the same artist/designer. Probably not – all are from different publishers. The technique does seem to say “middle grade novel” more than YA – though two of these claim an age 12+ designation.
I like the title treatment on this new edition of Witches of Worm. Attica is pleasing as well. “Newsgirl” looks tacked on. It doesn’t look like it quite fits with the art. [UPDATE: The one on the artist’s website is much better]
I thought I’d seen a more similarly designed covers, but couldn’t find them when I was working on this post. I did see that Snyder’s The Headless Cupid and The Egypt Game have been reprinted in the same style.

Barratt - Joe RatKetchum - Newsgirl

Snyder - Witches of WormKilworth - Attica

Joe Rat: In the dark, dank sewers of Victorian London, a boy known as Joe Rat scrounges for valuables which he gives to “Mother,” a criminal mastermind who considers him a favorite, but a chance meeting with a runaway girl and “the Madman” transforms all their lives. Ages 12+. Reviews 1.
Newsgirl: Twelve-year-old Amelia Forrester arrives in San Francisco with her family in 1851 and dresses like a boy in the mostly-male town, cutting her hair and wearing a cap to work as a newsboy in order to sell Eastern newspapers and participate inthe biggest stories of the day. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2.
Witches of Worm: A lonely twelve-year-old is convinced that the cat she finds is possessed by a witch and is responsible for her own strange behavior. Ages 9-12. Reviews 1, 2.
Attica: Alex, Chloe and stepbrother Jordy discover that a trap door in the attic of their new home is a portal to a fantastic continent built from lost, discarded, and forgotten artifacts, wherein they embark upon an adventure to recover a lost possession and must find their way home. Ages 9-12. Reviews 1.

Scarlett and the Velour Wallpaper

Posted in book covers, book spines, color, paperback changes on November 11, 2009 by Jacket Whys

I remember thinking “yuck, chicklit” when I first saw the cover of  Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (Point 2008). Nothing against people who like it, but it doesn’t draw me in unless there’s so much buzz about the book that I need to be in the know.
By now, my readers know that I’m not a big fan of girl (or woman as the case may be) photos on book covers unless it’s done exceptionally well.
I’ve been working on purchasing 2008 books for our extensive YA paperback collection, and found the paperback cover for Suite Scarlett. This, while not too far up in the “wow”-factor scale, is one I might pick up. So what makes it more interesting to me?
Things I like: The wallpaper background gives the impression of an upscale room. The darker red looks like velour, and I can imagine what it feels like. The setting-clue intrigues me.
It has the simplicity of the one centralized object which people tend to like (or at least I surmised that in this post). I agree with my web-designer son, simplicity is everything (almost).
The idea of a city-scape on a key is great. It’s probably been done before, but it’s novel to me. I don’t like the line of keys at the bottom (overkill), but it’s minimal, so it doesn’t take too much away.
Though I haven’t seen the spine, I’m guessing it’s red, so it may stand out on the shelf (if it’s not in a sea of other red books).

2008 - Johnson - Suite Scarlett2008 - Johnson - Suite Scarlett pbk

I love background stories for book covers, and on her blog, Maureen Johnson gives some backstory in response to someone who expressed dislike of the hardcover cover:

MJ, I’m sorry, but that cover is AWFUL. The girl looks like she ducked her head in peroxide and proceeded attempt to put her hair in curls.

Johnson responds:

While people might have varying opinions on the model and pose, a lot of work went into getting the basic facts straight. Scarlett is blonde, has curly hair of exactly the length described, and both that black dress and red lipstick play a part in the story. It may not look exactly as it does in my head, or how it might in yours . . . but it’s RIGHT!

She adds cover commentary:

Obviously, I want a nice cover, but the truth is . . . the cover has very little to do with what’s inside. In fact, it has nothing to do with what’s inside. I get annoyed by some covers too. Honestly, I just take them off. Feel free to replace them with the cover of another book. Or, even better, feel free to make your own!

I agree with her – many covers have absolutely nothing to do with what’s inside. STILL they are probably the absolute BEST advertisement for the book (second only to word-of-mouth buzz?). So that moves them pretty high in the chain of success for a book.
I’m guessing some teens loved the blonde working the hotel desk in her slip. But I’ll put my money on the paperback. I might even read it.

This leads me to one of the posts I’ll be working on. Books with awful covers that, apparently, killed the book’s chances. Books that never made it to paperback (yet).

Suite Scarlett: Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Marvin is stuck in New York City for the summer working at her quirky family’s historic hotel, but her out-of-work actor brother’s attractive new friend and a seasonal guest who offers her an intriguing and challenging writing project improve her outlook. Ages 12+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Spot the Difference

Posted in book covers, paperback changes, stock photos on November 1, 2009 by Jacket Whys

Here’s an interesting hardcover-to-paperback switch. At first glance, what do you see? Telescoping, yes… but what else?

2008 - Hearn - Ivy2009 - Hearn - Ivy - pbk

Yeah, somebody didn’t like it that Ivy (by Julie Hearn – Atheneum 2008) was naked. Don’t worry – she’s covered now!

ivyHere’s the UK cover.

Ivy: In mid-nineteenth-century London, young, mistreated, and destitute Ivy, whose main asset is her beautiful red hair, comes to the attention of an aspiring painter of the pre-Raphaelite school of artists who, with the connivance of Ivy’s unsavory family, is determined to make her his model and muse. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.