Cover Wars

Ever since I moved to the UK two years ago I’ve been obsessed with book covers. Book covers can vary vastly between North America and the UK. It has made me realize that I do judge a book by it’s cover. Take MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood for example. I am Canadian and an Atwood fan, so I’m going to read her latest book no matter what. But based on the covers I’d be much more likely to pick up the UK version. Let’s take a look.

But why is this the case? And what drives book cover design?

For the most part I have found that I prefer the North American cover of most books. I suspect that after years of book buying and working in a book store I have been conditioned by the North American book industry about what to expect. But then a book like The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer comes along. Two very different covers, both of which I’d pick up.

Some have noted that the North American cover of The Interestings is a bit too feminine for a book that would appeal to both men and women equally. The UK cover resolves this nicely, but what’s the deal with those clouds? Just distracting.

In a new weekly feature called Cover Wars I am going to look at cover design a little more closely. For the most part it will involve cover comparisons and polls, Β but I will also be looking at what experts like Chip Kidd have to say and how iconic cover designs like those from Penguin came about. I can’t wait to see how this evolves over time.


  1. I always find this interesting, especially when there is a difference between Canadian and American covers. I often wonder if we favour a more UK or American cover. Good choices there, I wouldn’t pick up the Margaret Atwood UK cover (if I didn’t know who she was) but neither Wolitzer cover would grab me.

  2. I’ve read both these books, I’m in the US so I have the versions on the left, and I think aesthetically myself overall I prefer the left covers for these two. The egg on MaddAddam makes sense to me, but the UK version is stark and dynamic and I like that too. I think since this is a trilogy I’d want all my copies of the three in the series to be the same design! It kinda bothers me that my copy of MaddAddam is hardcover and doesn’t match my copies of O&C and Flood. πŸ˜‰

    I’m with you that those clouds just don’t belong on the UK Interestings cover. Maybe is it supposed to be skyscrapers against blue sky (NYC, after all)? I’m not sure the color scheme really works for me either. Both covers look gender-neutral to me.

  3. I understand multiple covers when the subject matter is viewed differently in two different countries. Like if a cover is all about baseball in the US, I understand switching it up for an International audience. Other than that, no clue why they do this. I generally just order whichever cover appeals to me most.

  4. I do so love seeing the different book covers from around the world. So interesting!! (The Atwood UK cover is crazy bizarre and both covers for The Interestings would (and have) made me make a pass on reading them, It is true, we do judge many books by their covers! πŸ˜‰

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