Covers that change faces are the bane of every series-collecting reader. New covers can appear at any given time, often without any kind of warning.
It’s fair to expect that the art from the hardcover won’t be the same when the book is released in paperback. But when you’re picking up a series of books and suddenly there’s a shift in covers, sometimes the results can be…interesting.
There are a lot of reasons why covers suddenly change. For Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series, the publisher suddenly decided to have all the books match. Or at least that was the plan until the final book of the series came out, and then apparently all bets were off. For the top row, the hardcovers and mass market covers were the same until Dreamfever. Then the mass markets were re-released with fresh matching covers. The hardcover of Shadowfever, which was an outstanding cover by the way, sort of stayed the same when the mass market came out…which oddly enough took the font, but not the smoky border or author name placement. Numbers were also placed on the spines of the newly released covers. A nice touch, but personally I still wish I could have that first Dreamfever cover because Mac looks so badass as she stands amidst a collapsing Dublin.
Publishers will also make new covers in order to try and hit a different segment of the audience. That’s the only reason I can fathom for the infuriating change made to Beth Revis’ covers for her Across the Universe series. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were trying to make the covers more generic to attract more male readers who might typically shy away from the whole boy-girl cover thing. The original covers were absolutely gorgeous and so vivid in color. The new lineup has more of a you-don’t-know-what-you’re-getting-in-this-book feel. The first book had a completely different paperback the first time; the change didn’t happen until after A Million Suns. Readers never got the satisfaction of seeing a galaxy-dappled third hardcover book. However, if you do a search for the cover, there is a very lovely fan-version out there…
While Revis’ publisher may have aimed for a different section of the same audience group, Maria Snyder’s publishers have freshened up her covers in so many ways it can be hard to keep track. In fact, she’s even made a cover art gallery that includes hardcovers, paperbacks, and overseas covers. It can be rather overwhelming, and for die-hard readers that like to have every cover available, good luck. According to her publishers, the fresh looks can attract brand new readers. For example, the top line features the original adult hardcovers before they were abandoned before the third book was released. The second line is the refreshed paperbacks, again for adults. However, the last line was made for YA, but again, never finished. If you’re collecting her series and want them all to match? That might be a problem.
There are cases in which the publisher doesn’t decide — the author does. But those cases almost never exist. However, with Jill Myles, her series was dropped before the final book came out. Unfortunate, because it was a great series (so go read it!). The first three match up pretty well, whereas the final one has a pretty abrupt shift. Publishers were in charge of the first three; Jill took over the final book since she went the self-publishing route in order to get the book into her fans’ hands. The only downside? Print-on-demand books are trade paperbacks while the first three are the small mass markets. Once again, matching thwarted — this time mostly by size.
Then of course, there are other cases in which I just don’t know what the publisher is doing and sometimes I’m not sure if they do either. With Scott Sigler’s Generations Trilogy, the first book came out the same in both hardcover and paperback. Alight, however, matched nicely with the first book, whereas the paperback has already jumped the shark and gone it’s own way. While I will admit that it does have a more eye-catching cover, the weird part is that they haven’t fully committed to the change. The third book is set to match the first two, so I can only guess as to what the paperback will do. It’s a shame that the covers in general aren’t as gripping as they ought to be, given that the stories inside are absolutely amazing.
While we shouldn’t judge books on their covers, it’s still really hard not to. Across the Universe lured me in with its beauty. Alive did not, but I’d read an adult Scott Sigler book before and was therefore curious enough to crack it open (and immediately realize I needed to read the entire book). Publishers know that we look at covers and will continue to change them in order to net new readers. It’s easy to test yourself on Maria Snyder’s site with all her covers — which would catch your eye enough to pick up and look inside?