Sunday, 18 August 2013

Goodreads News and US vs. UK covers, Holiday Edition

Hello again! I am back from my holidays in America with several updates.

First, on the excellent recommendation of Nina Douglas, I have joined Goodreads. I now have a Goodreads author page, which links to this blog and has lots of info about myself and Murder Most Unladylike. You can friend me, follow me or mark the book as 'to read'. As you wish!

Henceforth, also, the reviews portion of this blog will take place over on Goodreads. You can now track what I'm reading on my page, and have a look at the books I've already rated.

Isn't that cool? I don't even need to tell you about all the books I read over my holidays - although I do want to specially mention The Brides of Rollrock Island, The Thirteenth Tale, When You Reach Me, Jack Glass and We Have Always Lived in the Castle because they were all (very differently) WONDERFUL.


I have also been in many bookshops. Working in publishing has clearly made my book nerdliness reach new levels. I'm noticing cover design and branding so much more than I ever have before, and about half of the photos I took in San Francisco were of US editions of books I'm familiar with in the UK. Because book covers are very interesting! This made me think about the UK vs. US covers game, and that made me want to do a blog of my own about it.

Therefore I am now pleased to present you with the redbreastedbird holiday version of US vs. UK covers. My photos of the US covers are on the left (or above), UK covers for comparison on the right (or below). Thanks to City Lights Books and Green Apple Books, excellent establishments both, for providing the material for all of these photos.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Tampa is a book that I read on holiday (and struggled with, actually - half of me thought that it was an extremely clever and thoughtful look at the nastiness of teacher/student sexual abuse, and the other half was just too horrified by how much detail it went into). I had the cover on the right ("Oh I see," said my boyfriend, poker-faced. "It's a book about men's shirts"), which I have to admire. Imagine getting that approved all the way to the shop floor! The US cover I think is great for very different reasons. From far away it looks like writing on a blackboard - but when you touch it, you realise that it isn't just flocked, it's essentially a carpet. It has this gross furry texture that you can't stop touching because you can't believe it's real - essentially, the US cover is the book in physical form.

Winner: UK.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson  

Another pleasing US cover! I think the UK cover is too busy, and I dislike those random snowflakes. The US cover just looks sophisticated and really beautiful, while still managing to convey what the book's about.

Winner: US.

Scat by Carl Hiaasen

I love the background colour and font of the US cover, but I think it looks like it's being marketed to a younger audience than the UK book. It looks cutesey, sort of Pink-Panther-esque, whereas the UK cover seems more dangerous and adult. It's also a much cleaner design, and I like that.

Winner: UK.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

 I like the US typeface, and the fact that it's got the World Tree on it, but I am in LOVE with Gaiman's UK covers. They're so dark and gorgeous. Why is the wing there? Who knows. But in terms of design and desirability, I think that the UK cover has the US cover beat.

Winner: UK.

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

I love this book. LOVE it. I own the UK edition, which actually I really like - there's some subtle genderbending going on in the woman's outfit, and I think it's an intriguing image of her - but I have to admit that the US cover is a lot more successful at conveying what's going on in the book. Foxes awkwardly turning into humans, struggling into male and female clothes that don't fit them. It's neat and attractive and very weird, absolutely like the book itself.

Winner: US.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Quite apart from the odd fact that the left US Sisters brother looks like Eddie Redmayne, the US cover does not compare well to its UK counterpart. The UK cover is so inventive, so iconic and so vibrant ... and then the US version is a dull sepia identicover that could be 50 other books about the Wild West. Snore.

Winner: UK, by a mile.

Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani


Another really, really clear winner. The UK edition is Weidenfeld and Nicholson (aka my adult counterparts at work), so I guess I might be biased - but really, it's hard not to be impressed with it. It's gorgeously vivid, with colours that sing together, and next to it the US cover just looks like a pale imitation.

Winner: UK, again by a mile.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The US cover, at the top, almost looks computer-generated. The drawing is very rounded and cute and (oddly, for a book with the word 'One' in the title) features Ivan with another animal. The UK cover, below, still looks appealing, but Ivan looks bigger, more like an adult gorilla - and crucially, he's alone in the spotlight. And I like the blue better than the dark green.

Winner: UK.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Another book that I have been vocal about loving recently. The UK cover is Orion (work connection again!) and I think it works - it's very bold and fun - but the US cover is just so charming, simple and sweet that it's hard not to give it the edge. I love the way the ampersand has been made from Eleanor and Park's connecting headphones and I love the drawing of their heads.

Winner: US.

I generally find myself preferring UK covers of books, but I love the floppy way US paperbacks feel to hold. Basically, I like books. Hey, maybe I should be a writer or work in publishing or something. Crazy thought.


  1. This is great. Notes from the Slushpile blog did something similar a few months back.So entertaining.

  2. thanks for sharing Robin

    Hope to see more such cutting from your side.
    I would love to see designs based on best places of UK