You know what really annoys me? Finding out that one of my favourite books has a better cover in another country, and that I can’t get my hands on it. No, but really, I don’t know how many times I deplored the lack of pretty covers on this side of the ocean (I’m Canadian so, we only get US editions over here). To be fair though, it does happen that I prefer the US version of a book. Obviously, every cover design has pros and cons and that’s what we’ll be looking at today!
Let’s just forget for a minute the age-old “don’t judge a book by its cover” because come on, who are we kidding here. Because I’m curious about what other people think and like, I’m going to set up some polls so that you can vote for your favourite covers too.
To make it easier for everyone, the US cover will be displayed on the LEFT and the UK cover on the RIGHT.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I haven’t read this one yet (but it is very high up on my priority list right now), and I don’t own it either, because I really really really want the UK edition. For me, this one isn’t even a contest. The UK version is gorgeous! Both editions use moths in their designs, but in my opinion, the UK does it better. I find the colours of the US edition a bit jarring and not as appealing.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
This one I read and reviewed here and, despite me not really enjoying it, I think that the US cover fits more with the story than the UK one. I’m getting sci-fi/Stargate vibes from the UK edition, which couldn’t be any further from the plot. The US cover, on the other hand, clearly represents the desert prison/school where most of the action takes place.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Again, I think the US does it better with the cover of this book (and of the whole series tbh). I like how Kell is featured running across the different Londons, but it’s still very artsy and not too overbearing. By comparison, the UK cover is a bit garish and the illustration takes up too much visual space. I don’t really like the silhouette cut-out effect. The US wins this one for me.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
This is a no-brainer for me. The UK edition is WAY better and so much more in sync with the theme of the book. As you already know, I absolutely love this trilogy that deals with Russian fairytales, magic realism, romance and adventure. The US cover obviously represents Morozko’s hidden and magical house, which I do love, but the UK cover really dives into the realm of fairytales with the whimsical drawings and the sinuous path carved out of the forest. The UK cover is much more magical and clearly Russian.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Here’s another one I haven’t read (yet) but it’s definitely on my list. It’s a bit of a toss-up as far as design goes. I like the clown-doll/circus tent character on the US cover, which is chilling and creepy looking, but I also really like the two characters in historical dress on the UK cover. Obviously, I don’t really know which one fits more with the story, but from my own personal aesthetics, I prefer the UK version. 19th-century clothing rocks.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Here’s another trilogy that I’m obsessed with… and the UK cover wins again, hands down. I get why they have a girl with a mask on the US edition but personally, I don’t like generic pretty girl stock photo book covers. Yes, the UK cover is also a photo, but it makes more sense with the book and matches the storyline. The UK design is more magical and the font is more legible too.
Well, that’s it for now. I could keep going forever with these comparisons but I’d obviously never finish this post. Which covers do you prefer? Like I said at the start, I think that each cover has pros and cons in its design, which makes it interesting to examine. If you’re a collector, you’ll probably end up buying one of each version of your favourite books anyway. For me, I want just one -pretty- cover to sit on my shelf 🙂
Thanks for reading!