I thought, after this post the other day, I’d also have a look at some books where their cover changed dramatically, between hardback and paperback versions. And make some completely uninformed speculation as to why that may be.
First up is Giles Kristian‘s God of Vengeance.
On the left, is the hardback version, the right is the paperback version.
Despite professing his love for the new (as it was then) hardback cover design for his return to the world of the Vikings, Giles Kristian’s publishers obviously didn’t feel the same love when it came to the paperback.
Neither did I at the time. I remember seeing the cover announced and thinking
It did absolutely nothing for me. It did nothing for the book, the story or the series.
Above, is a picture of ‘my’ Raven series in hardback (bottom). And paperback (top).
As you can see, the hardback of God of Vengeance will fit right in…
Yup! Job’s a good un.
Right. Well, of course, to look at it another way, maybe you could argue God of Vengeance should be a little different, as it is a prequel to the Raven series proper. But…a little toy ship at the top there, on what looks like a slab of black, rune-inscribed granit. That just screams “BUY ME!!!” to the casual reader, eh? Clearly not. You could argue that the paperback jacket has to do a different job to the hardback, it’s in a different market. “But!”, you cry, “the paperback versions of the first three, are absolutely the same as the hardback versions!” So why did/does God of Vengeance have to be different? Why spend more money on an already done project and commission a new cover for the paperback? Because they knew the hardback cover was crap? That it wouldn’t work for the paperback? I know absolutely nothing about the sales figures here, but I would have guessed that people who would buy a Giles Kristian paperback Raven book, aren’t the same who would fork out twice as much for the hardback version, six months earlier. So, a change of cover. To bring it into line with the rest of the paperback series? Well, yes…but, not quite. Times (and typefaces) have clearly changed since the publication of the first book(s), as have designs. So the paperback has been given what we in the trade are calling a Ben Kane-over.
Whoops! A stray Harry Sidebottom seems to have snuck its way in at the end there.
They do tend to appear on each others’ books claiming they are all better than anything else they’ve ever read, but the same deigns? Too far.
Clearly, as it’s been a while since Giles K wrote a Raven book and people who bought the paperbacks of the first three might be thought to have forgotten that he is about – given that the sales of his Civil War series clearly weren’t what were hoped for (hence the return to Raven and the very belated release of the paperback version of Brothers’ Fury, obviously only now out in paperback in an attempt to ride on the coattails of the hoped for success of God of Vengeance), so the paperback GoV has to work hard. Harder than was anticipated, after the design of the hardback. Bottom line, the hardback cover is a hardback cover, the paperback cover is more of a paperback cover. Quite why it was felt it should look like a book set in Roman times, I can’t tell you. I haven’t yet got on to reading it. Partly because of the dreadful cover, partly because I’m tired of Giles K’s ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ attitude towards Viking history and culture. He seems to think he and his books are in a comic book-world sometimes. Make that all the time, actually (there IS going to be a comic book of the Raven series at some point, or at least he has set some drawings going anyway. So look out for a very square-jawed, very clean, Hollywood matinee idol version of Raven, only putting his Mead horn down to go pillaging, very soon). I’ll get on it as after I’m done with the half dozen more serious Vikings books I’ve got.
Actually, I think the paperback cover of God of Vengeance is absolutely stunning. If my version had that cover, I’d be reading it right now. Or be already finished. So, it’s done its job, then. One day – if I get any Skat back from the Danish tax people, I may even invest a few unnecessary Kroner*, just to have its magnificence sitting on the shelves there. But as I’ve got a (signed) hardback…not yet.
As ever, click on the book covers at the top to go to the relevant book pages at The Book Depository.
*I am now due some 1500Kr, so I may well have to put some money where my mouth is when I get the dosh, start of April.