Cover Chic: United States vs. United Kingdom

Welcome to Cover Chic, where we take a look at what publishers are doing with their cover art to grab our interest.

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You may have noticed that the United States and the United Kingdom often have different cover art for the same books. This doesn’t make sense to me, because if one design was used for the book worldwide — or at least just the English-language markets — it would make international branding and recognition much easier.

And publishers agree in some cases. The covers for Marie Lu’s Legend and Claudia Gray’s A Thousand Pieces of You are two examples of art with broad appeal, which not only will you find in both the US and UK but also foreign-language editions.

In general, how do publishers decide when to use the same cover and when to go alone? I don’t have the answers, but check out these nine books — each with two different covers. Let’s see what works and what doesn’t between the two, and what gets my vote.


Kelley Armstrong’s upcoming Otherworld Chills anthology has a forest theme in both territories. The UK colors it light blue, and while I love the purple fog in the US, I generally prefer covers without characters.

Because of the title, both versions of Keri Arthur’s City of Light feature a city and light, though in the US the character is probably supposed to be the focus. I prefer the lighted city of the US, but I love the UK’s title treatment.

Roses were always going to be part of the covers for Amy Ewing’s The White Rose. The US incorporates the flower into a dress, while the UK uses petals…which strangely (due to the title) aren’t white. That may be due to the fire, representing danger, and I like the ready-for-action pose of the characters.

Notice the stylized A and O on Francesca Haig’s The Map of Bones, which signals the Alpha and Omega themes in the series. The UK version shows the titular map, but the US wins with its fiery bird.

With the Charley Davidson series, the US covers use paranormal symbols and the UK uses a character. Both versions of The Curse of Tenth Grave are a bit uninspiring, but the win goes to the US’s skull-and-bones wineglass charms.

Normally I don’t go for covers with people, but the US edition of Laura Lam’s False Hearts is the exception. It’s kind of inaccurate as it depicts the characters as joined at the head, when in the text they share a heart. But it stands out from other covers, especially in comparison to the UK’s fingerprinted heart which represents themes of identity.

North American friends, consider yourself fortunate. The US cover of Katharine McGee’s The Thousandth Floor is stunning with its black, gold, and silver building-and-sky artwork. The UK just has a character looking out over a city — hard to get excited about that.

I equally appreciate both covers of Danielle Rollins’s Burning. The smoke coming out of a prison cell in the US, and a character flaming up in the UK.

Paul Tremblay’s Disappearance at Devil’s Rock has a tree theme in each territory, but the US’s is photographic while the UK’s is more stylized. Win to the US.


After checking out the covers, I’m still not sure what they say about each target market.

What are your cover preferences? Do non-English-language countries have better covers? Share your thoughts and favorites.

8 Comments

  • Shara White September 20, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Cover art comparisons absolutely delight me!

    I find I’m drawn to the UK version of Tremblay’s book more. I’m a fan of his fiction, but the US cover does nothing to inspire me personally. I originally overlooked the cover until I saw Tremblay’s name attached, so it was his name, not the cover, that made it a must-buy. I also can’t overlook the UK cover’s resemblance to Tana French’s In the Woods, a book I adored and the cover of which I’m partial too. Maybe I’m a fan of the abstract?

    The Thousandth Floor‘s UK version keeps making me think I’m looking at a Kage Baker book. It may very well be the font that’s doing it, but there’s a run of Baker’s Company novels that have a particular look to their cover art, and this McGee book has it, only it’s like a YA version or something.

    I adore the False Hearts covers. Adore, adore, adore! They both bringing something equally intriguing to the table!

    Reply
  • Tez Miller September 20, 2016 at 7:30 am

    I love real-life photographs of setting, so the US “Disappearance” appeals to me more. Yet I’m not the target audience 😉

    Still waiting for my library to get “False Hearts”. It sounds SO GOOD! 🙂 Cults, surgery, and the future – what else would I want in a book 🙂

    Reply
    • Shara White September 20, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Real life photos are hit or miss with me. A lot depends on design. Go figure, I have a graphic designer husband. 😉

      Reply
  • Nancy O'Toole Meservier September 20, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Another reminder that I have yet to read False Hearts!

    Reply
    • Shara White September 20, 2016 at 9:13 am

      I need to read it too!

      Reply
    • Tez Miller September 20, 2016 at 10:53 am

      I figure once it’s re-released in paperback in 2017, it’ll be more affordable, and we’ll all snap up FALSE HEARTS…or hope our libraries will 😉

      Reply
  • ntaft01 September 20, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    It’s also interesting to see when UK covers actually make it over here and take over the book. Sarah Maas’s Throne of Glass is an excellent example. The hardcover version here was bleh. Very uninspiring and it didn’t surprise me that we didn’t sell any copies. I don’t even remember how I found the UK cover, but immediately went, “That is WAY COOLER! Why don’t they have that one here??”

    Cut to the release of the paperback. Guess which cover version they used? And oh baby, she’s flying off the shelves now…

    Reply
    • Shara White September 20, 2016 at 11:41 pm

      Care to share some links so we can see some cover art comparisons? 🙂 Oh, and I heard THRONE OF GLASS has been picked up for a television adaptation! 🙂

      Reply

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