It is an unwritten law, that hardback covers must be worse than their paperback versions. That’s The Law. Not a lot you and I can do about it.
Some books, however, do skip the trend, sneak past the Book Law Enforcement patrols and make sure their hardback versions have halfway decent covers. I’m thinking of the last two Bernard Cornwell titles here. Both of which, in their muted, autumnal tones in hardback, are still better than the technicolour paperback versions.
Check them out (top two, hardback. Bottom two, paperback):
Now comes Giles Kristian’s latest in paperback. With a cover that simply slaughters the hardback version, stone dead.
Here’s the hardback version. Here’s the paperback version.
Now, you tell me, were the two side by side on the shelf, price not an issue, which you’d go for…Exactly.
“Read me, or I’ll kill you.”
I do feel Giles plays the whole Viking genre a bit too much for laughs sometimes, but there’s no doubt he does write a decent, tight, interesting story. I haven’t got onto God of Vengeance (in either form) as yet, but I speak from having read the Raven saga series proper and the first of his English Civil War saga.
There does seem to be a move towards having actual people on the covers of the kind of historical fiction I like. Not the Mills & Boon-like crap, books with the words ‘Queen’ or ‘Lady’ in their title, or ‘passion’ or ’emotions’ in their back-blurb. You know, the proper stuff.
Ben Kane (as mentioned previously) for example.
The first Hannibal, is the hardback, the next is the paperback version. Much better. Now, it seems they’ve learned their lesson and for Clouds of War, both the hardback and paperback have the same, powerful, figure-based cover. I have said ‘trend‘ so I better come with other examples. Well, Anthony Riches has been there for a long time with his covers (the first few were clearly illustrations, but the recent ones are obviously done in a photo studio), Douglas Jackson and Angus Donald. How’s that?
I’m not saying that covers should be so good you wanna frame them…though that might be an interesting revenue stream for authors to consider…but when you shell out over £25-odd notes for them to be sent to Denmark, you wanna feel like they put the same amount of effort into designing the cover, as you have into the earning of the money to buy the book. No?
Click on a book cover and you link to The Book Depository for buying.
Don’t buy from Amazon unless you really, really have to.