Cover Chic: Movie Makeovers

A lot of people get confused when faced with a book that has two covers. Is the inside different? Is this the same book? The confusion only deepens on those rare occasions when the title changes. However, gentle readers and moviegoers, this is simply a cover change up.

Any time a book is transformed into a movie or television show, the publishers re-release the book with a brand new cover that represents the movie/TV show. The new cover makes it much easier for people to find the book once they’ve seen the story on the screen. Want to read The Hobbit? Great — there’s Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins right on the cover. Movie covers are an interesting source of discussion for many people. Just as there are those who argue if the movie or book was better, there are plenty of readers who will debate which cover is better (discuss all you want — 9 out of 10 times the original covers are better). Once the hype for the movie or TV show is over, covers tend to revert back to their natural state…at least, most of the time.

Warm Bodies — The Original Format
If you haven’t yet read this book, I highly recommend it. That aside, Warm Bodies is a great example of a publisher releasing the main book, coming out with a movie cover, and then letting the movie cover lapse in favor for the original once more. The movie cover is also a classic example of putting the main character(s) on the front so people immediately see them and recognize they’re looking at the book that inspired the movie. The good thing is that while the first cover excels in its design, the movie cover isn’t too shabby either.

Jurassic Park — The Blending
Jurassic Park has been around for a very long time. Originally published in 1990, my only guess at the first cover is that the publishers were aiming for a sort of Frankenstein-esque design, what with the lightning over the island and all. But once the movie came out, the book adopted the now-iconic Jurassic Park logo. I would also admit that this is one of the few times that the new cover is better than the original. Since then, the cover has been redesigned and done a sort of merge — it kept the skeletal T-Rex, but zoomed in over a plain white cover and bold red lettering. Pretty good looking.

Arrival — The Title Correction
There are cases in which the movie has a completely different title than the book. In this case, Arrival actually comes from a short story within Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others. The short story itself is titled “Stories of Your Life.” Because of the movie, the book now goes by Arrival, though I’m sure a lot of people will be surprised to learn they’re getting more than one story within the book, which prominently features the black heptapod craft. Though the movie cover is enticing, because of the actual content, it’s kind of misleading.

The Hunger Games — The Adjustment
It took me a while to remember what the actual movie cover for The Hunger Games was, and when I saw it I knew why. The movie version of The Hunger Games really isn’t much different from the original. It features the same mockingjay symbol, only much bigger and with a lot more fire.

However, when the second movie came out, they decided to switch things up with Catching Fire’s movie cover by putting Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) front and center. Like Warm Bodies and Game of Thrones, this is what you see the most in movie covers. Maybe the publishers decided putting Jennifer on there was a better bet.

Game of Thrones — The Constant Evolution

Here we have six covers to take a look at. The first is the original release of the first novel in 1996. Eventually it came out in a revamped version that skipped the stereotypical fantasy style. The more ambiguous design (and even this one is an older version of what you’ll currently find) gained increased readership and before long, HBO had themselves a show. Enter Ned Stark (Sean Bean) sitting on the Iron Throne.

So what’s up with the last two? This is probably the most annoying version of the movie cover redo. In this case, every time a new season of Game of Thrones was released, the publisher came out with a new cover to represent the season — despite the fact that it was still representing the first book in the series. As usual, the show covers were never as good as the originals — yes, even that 90’s cover is better than those creepy faces on the sixth season version. The problem? When you have so many different covers for the same book floating around a bookstore, it only serves to confuse people who just want to start at the beginning. Heck, even I get confused sometimes as to which cover is supposed to be for which book.

The Maze Runner — The Exclusive

James Dashner’s book did something interesting when the movie covers were released. Two movie covers appeared — but only one of them was available at all bookstores. The Maze Runner‘s movie cover featured the massive, vine-covered Maze in the Glade. However, Barnes & Noble was able to obtain an exclusive movie cover that you could only find in their stores, and this one featured an opposite look — the Maze looking out at the boys with Thomas front and center. While not really necessary and certainly not something you often see, I imagine it’s a fun addition to people who collect all the covers.


As books continue to be made into movies and television shows, you can count on a book’s cover transforming at some point. Usually you can still get the original cover, and the price doesn’t change. So pick your favorite and happy reading!

8 Comments

  • Kelly McCarty February 22, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    I understand being confused if the title changes, but do people really think that the movie cover is a different book? I feel like movie tie-in covers have been a thing for as long as I can remember. I usually prefer the original cover, but I like the TV show covers for the Outlander series better than the originals, which were bland and dull.

    Reply
    • Shara White February 23, 2017 at 7:17 am

      I can see where it’s an issue with the Martin books…. people who don’t follow news online are always wondering when a new title comes out, and when they see a new shiny cover, well…..

      Reply
    • Nicole Taft February 23, 2017 at 11:59 am

      People absolutely will think it’s a different book. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll take a customer to the book, pull both off the shelves to show them, and even after I say, “Whichever cover you like!” have them pose the question, “So is that the same book?” And then I have to basically explain the whole concept of movie cover art to them.

      Reply
      • Kelly McCarty February 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm

        I’ve experienced working in customer service, so I do believe you, but part of me would want to know if this was their first time in a bookstore. I do honestly want to know how often the average person actually reads a book. I get Game of Thrones since they’re putting things that happened in later books/seasons of the show on the first book.

        Reply
        • Nicole Taft February 25, 2017 at 11:59 am

          *shrug* I don’t know. But it happens all the time. Literally just had it happen last night with a woman looking for the 50 Shades books. We have a display that has all of them – movie and non-movie covers. Her brain couldn’t seem to handle that she knew there were three books but was looking at five.

          Reply
      • Lane Robins March 2, 2017 at 1:17 pm

        Well, especially if they’re messing with the title as they did on the Ted Chiang book.

        Reply
  • Shara White February 23, 2017 at 7:18 am

    What you mention with the Martin was pretty common with Tolkien when the movies were coming out, especially for LOTR. Every time there was a new installment, you’d get new covers for all three books (and the omnibus) for both trade AND mass market paperbacks. It was annoying, especially because at that time I preferred movie covers to originals. Not sure what I was thinking then, other than avoiding what was then typical tropey fantasy art. 🙂

    Reply
    • Nicole Taft February 23, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Yeah, you’re right. They totally did that with the Hobbit, too. First it was Bilbo going out the door, then it was Smaug’s eyeball, then it was Bilbo kneeling with his sword.

      Reply

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