Since I'm kind of on a cover kick lately, (this could be telling. I've been staring longingly at my sketchbook and ignoring my computer. Uh oh.) I'd like to stare a few different versions of the Uglies book by Scott Westerfeld.
Here's the one you're probably familiar with if you're a USite (what?) like me:
Things I like: The font. It's simple, yet brilliant with it's sparseness and modernity contrasting the almost romantic looking cover image. To be honest, I like the shape and feel of this book, so I'm a bit forgiving of the cover, but I don't totally love the image. It doesn't scream Tally to me and I have this pet peeve about close-ups of characters' faces on book covers. Yet, I get what they're trying to do. You look at the cover and wonder what is ugly about the girl on it, which leads you to the tag and the "aha" moment. Whateves. It does the job.
Then we have the following version:
Woo, we took that conceptual thing and really ran with it. What do I like? Well, I like the colors, I like that they stuck with the original font and just adjusted it slightly, and I like the kidney bean shape of the main design element. What? I like kidney bean shapes. They're cool. What don't I like? The assorted doll parts. It makes me worry that I'm going to be reading a message story and not a story about real people. Bang! Plastic surgery. Bang! Superficiality. Just a bit on the nose, you know?
I like the composition and I'm drawn to covers that are predominantly white. Look closer, though, and it starts to get annoying. What's with the fingernails? Do they belong to the patient? No, because they're holding a scalpel. So, the surgeon has multicolored fingernails? Isn't that a little strange? Maybe this is some sort of dream scenario where the patient is the doctor. Am I thinking too much about this? Maybe. That smiley face looking through the sheet is really creepy. I miss the old font. And the old tag.
Okay, I take back what I said earlier. If you're gonna do a portrait cover, this is the way to do it. It tells us that this is a book about humans, but also a book about ideas and identity. The model looks more like my internal vision of Tally, though I wish she weren't quite so pretty. I like the overlay and the placement of Scott Westerfeld's name. The rest of the text? Not so much. There's a murkiness to the photoshopping that bothers me.
Here's the "let's make this appeal to boys" cover:
Okay, maybe the Times quote is a bit of overkill, and the cover makes this look like a James Bond thriller, but you know what? I still like it. I'm a sucker for this kind of thing and the boldness of it is very appealing. You've got a design that will catch someone's eye from across the bookstore and give them more to examine when they get up close. Boys wouldn't be embarrassed if caught looking at it. Is it completely true to the story? Maybe not. But, I think it accomplishes what it set out to do.
Ugh. Just ugh. What really kills it for me? The purple sunrise (sunset?) in the distance. Just say no.
Here's the Thai version, which I don't understand:
If you do understand what is going on here, please let me know. It's been a while since I've read the story, but I don't remember a creepy, long-chinned alien.
You know what's really fascinating? How there can be so many visual interpretations of one story. They're all really different and if I looked at them without reading the title, I'd never in a million years guess they were the same book. Two questions: 1. Which do you think is most effective in representing the story? 2. Which do you think would sell the most books? Oh, and a third question. 3. If your answers to the two questions were different, do you think the publisher should go with the image that better represents the story, or the one that would sell the most copies?
33. The Passage - Justin Cronin
34. Paranormalcy - Kiersten White