I’ve always been fascinated by book covers. So much planning goes into them: designing the images, the type-face, and the colors. The results can be quite mixed. There are books which accurately reflect content, yet others in which one has to wonder if the artist had any clue as to the contents of the book. Some seem to be rather generic covers, as if the artist has been told “this is a Southern murder book” and so produces a picture of a big ol’ plate of fried chicken or a big ol’ watermelon with a big ol’ dangerous looking knife, setting both on a homey looking checkered tablecloth. Never mind that neither knives nor fried chicken play a noticeable role in the book: it’s just a sort of visual shorthand to say “Hey! Reader! Southern mystery here!” A cozy mystery will have a cat and some other comforting accouterment: a quilt or a china tea cup or flowers and then something vaguely menacing, such as a bottle with a skull on it.
Romance books? I don’t need to describe those! Handsome man, handsome women, either in an embrace (it’s going to be passionate!) or studying each other warily (they hate each other on sight, so naturally they’ll fall in love.)
Other books have covers that reveal little about the contents but intrigue the viewer: what could this book be about?
In many cases, the authors do NOT have any input into what the cover looks like. I often wonder exactly how some choices are made. Obviously, someone believes that this cover will “sell” the book to a specific audience. Recently, I’ve noticed an interesting instance of this with Catalyst: A Tale of the Barque Cats by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. The story is set in the future, when cats are used to protect spaceships from vermin and serve as valued members of the crew.
|This is the first cover for hardback edition of Catalyst.|
|However, apparently the publisher decided to go with a different designer, so the cover for the sequel, Catacombs, had a very different look as you can see.|
|The cover of the paperback version of the first book now resembles the second.|
What do you think? Which cover do you like best and why? I'll explain my choice in the comments section.