Book Cover Changes Before Publication

August 20, 2014

I think we can all agree by now that we are not immune to book covers. As much as we like to bandy about the old adage 'Dont judge a book by its cover', at the end of the day, the cover does have a significant effect on our opinion of a book. And if you dont know this already, you should know that I'm a bit of a cover snob.

Much has been said about cover changes after the publication of a book, be it entire cover revamps or even cover alternatives from region to region. Features have been formed, cover battles and showdowns take place... there's almost an entire sub-section in book blogging devoted to book covers! But I was wondering, has anyone considered cover changes before publication?

We all have seen that little sticker saying 'Cover Not Final' on our ARCs, but for the most part, the cover on the ARC is pretty much the same thing that will end up on the cover of the final print. Even if changes are made, they're pretty minor, and worked into the basic design.


So when I see a finished copy with a cover that's drastically different from the one on the ARC, or from an even earlier version, I subconsciously take note of it in my head.

Why? Honestly, I dont know. I think it most probably may be because I have an eye for such things like design, and book covers are pretty important to me as a reader. I also find myself wondering sometimes for what purpose it is that 'the powers that be' decide to change the covers.

Here are a few such 'before pub' cover changes in recent times:

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
The first time I saw The Truth About Alice, I thought it was an adult book. And since at the time I was gravitating more towards young adult books, I didn't pay it a lot of attention. I remember thinking it must be something about Alice in Wonderland (which I have never liked) or about someone during the Nazi regime (I dont know why I thought that). This is the kind of cover that grows on you, though, because once I started seeing it in a few places (there was even a blueish variation to this cover, if I remember right?) I actually started liking it a lot. I get a very vintage vibe from it, what with the bob and the sepia tint.

I was surprised when I saw the cover change on my tbr list, but I think I understand why they did it. The new cover is very 'young'-ish. The colouring, graffiti, and the whole 'girl-fingering-her-pendant' lend a very young adult feel to it, which is probably what the marketing team was going for. But *sigh*, I really did like the old cover.

Random by Tom Leveen
Random's old cover was what first intrigued me about this book, and after I read the blurb I had to request it. I love the symbolism of the design. In my opinion, that alone is enough to make one think hard on the effects of the virtual world on our mental well being. It reminds me a lot of the cover of Laurie Halse Anderson's Twisted. Another great thing about this cover is how the different parts are arranged - the title, author's name and 'a novel'. Everything about this cover makes it stand out, which is why it baffles me as to why they went and changed it.

Sadly, the book did not live up to it's amazing cover, so maybe it's a good thing they changed to this bland, utterly unexciting and in-your-face cover of  some random guy? (pun very much intended)

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
When I first saw Say What You Will's cover, I was like, "Ah, there's another book that's trying to imitate the Eleanor & Park cover." But I still liked it, mind you.

And then they revamped it. And I was like, "Huh? Why would they do that? That cover was great!" (this was all before I'd even read it)

And then I read the book. And I realised how unsuitable the old cover was. And then I saw the hardcover. By then I adored pretty much everything about Saw What You Will, so it wasn't much of a stretch to fall completely in love with its cover as well. The hand lettering trend seems to be really catching on with books these days, and I have to say, it's all very exciting for a typography nerd like me. Looking back now, the chairs on the old cover remind me of a hospital waiting room, and it all looks so stark and white. The new cover is so cheerful and feel so much more personal. Besides, I always love me some colour!

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
What is going on with the first cover? I honestly have no idea. It looks like the inside of a kaleidoscope, and I dont mean that in a complimentary way. The changed cover is definitely an improvement on the old, but I still dont like it all that much. IS that a scratched surface or a web? Either way, it doesn't look good. So blah. But the newest cover? The one with the really cool Catching Fire style clock thing on the cover? Now that, dear reader, is cool. Mysterious and exciting at the same time, just what the story calls for.

Have you ever noticed these cover changes before publication? What do you think of it?
What do you think of these cover changes above? Have you noticed any such changes yourself? 
I'd love to know!