December 16, 2013

Cover Convos #2: Repackaging a Book Cover!

How many of you have ever felt personally victimized by a book cover repackage? *Every reader in the auditorium promptly raises his or her hand* Good...good. 

Okay, okay, I'll get on with it! Repackages can be a pain in the butt--especially when you already own half of a series with one cover and then need to buy the rest with another cover...and then fight the urge to rebuy the beginning of the series just so they match!

I'm sure a ton of your have felt this way before--I know I have!--which is why I thought it made the perfect topic for a new cover convo! Because, even though we don't all love it, sometimes from a business perspective repackaging is a necessity. 

Take Ignite -- an example of a successful repackage!

I'll be the first to admit that my original cover for Ignite was not so great -- it looked a little ugly. And as my confidence as a writer grew, I knew my confidence in my covers needed to grow as well. So, I spent a ton of time reworking the package--making it prettier and more intriguing--and I consider it a success! Now a ton of people not only compliment the new cover, but also say it is the reason they decided to download my book. 

Some reasons a publishing house might decide to repackage covers are:

1) Sales are not strong and they believe that changing the cover might help. (The original cover might have been to generic and didn't tell enough of a unique story to get noticed on a bookshelf. Or, on the flip-side, the cover might have been to genre-specific and it alienated more generalized readers. Or, sometimes, the cover just does not fit the story and adjusting it might help.)

2) To bring a backlist title into the modern era. (Ever look at a young adult cover from the 80s... save yourself! Backlist titles often contain fantastic stories, but their covers need to be updated for modern buyers or no one will look at them. Unless it's a classic of course...but that leads to...)

3) A classic title that becomes collectible. (Ever notice how the classics get new covers every couple of years? That's because they're collectibles and are great for gift giving!)

4) Author branding. (Take a look at Sarah Dessen for example. Her older titles used to have much different covers, partially because they were old-fashioned styles but also because when she hit the big time, the publishing house wanted her name to be more recognizable--like a brand on all of her books.)

5) Movie Tie-In. (Nuff said. Great marketing to get a celebrity on your cover. Even if most readers prefer the original cover, a lot of new people will be attracted to the book solely because of the movie art/buzz.)

I'm sure that there are more reasons, but these are the most overarching ones I can think of! But the real question is--does it work? 

Below are a few examples of covers repackages I believe did work, and some that I believe were less successful. 

Read through and share your thoughts--as always, feel free to disagree!! What are your favorite repackages? What about least favorite?

Cover Repackages I Like and Why:
(Click on the new cover to be taken to the Amazon title page if you want to learn more!)

 1) The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson


I'm a sucker for interesting type treatments! I also think the first cover is a little too obviously pushing "ghost story" while the second gives the feel of mystery and intrigue without spoiling anything. 

2) Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson


The second cover does a better job of branding Laurie Halse Anderson for the rockstar she is! I also think the publisher did a great job of making the book look more modern, without losing the artistic feel with the scribbles and atmospheric colors. 

3) Harry Potter


First, I LOVE the original Harry Potter covers--I would not replace them for anything. But, I might buy a second set of the new paperbacks :) Not only do I think the artwork is stunning...but the binds that turn into Hogwarts are just freaking cool! And what a great way to get fresh marketing around a classic series--right when the movie had ended and everyone was left wondering if our Harry Potter days were over. A thankful and resounding NO was the publishing response!

4) Gilt by Katherine Longshore


I adore the new cover for Gilt!! The first was, well, erotic and nose hairs--that's all I got. The second is so unique--it's encompasses the historical luxe vibe of the Tudor era without just showing a girl in a dress. Cannot say how much I love all three covers in this series--and the books are great too!

Cover Repackages I Dislike and Why:
(Click on the new cover to be taken to the Amazon title page if you want to learn more!)

1) The Diviners by Libba Bray


I loved the original cover for The Diviners--it was unique, eye-catching, and different than any cover I had seen. The new one, while I find the type treatment intriguing, I find the photoshopping around the people to be too jarring. The entire vibe is more generic and less interesting. 

2) The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda


There's nothing wrong with the second cover, I just find the first more interesting! The color balance is eye-catching, and my eye wanders around the image more. The first cover pulls me in for a second look to see what is actually going on, while I just skim over the second since it is just the image of a face. 

3) Unbreakable by Kami Garcia


The first cover is emotional and raw--it sucks me in and has a sort of haunted vibe. And the type is just so cool! The second cover just feels bland and emotionless to me. 

4) Without Tess by Marcella Pixley


I can see why the publisher wanted to change the cover since it is more muted and might not pop off the shelf, but I just love the way the tagline is treated. Not only is it so spooky, but I immediately want to know more. The second cover looks younger to me, maybe even middle grade, and I don't feel as pulled in by it. 

5) Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers


While not exhaustive, this cover change still just does NOT make sense to me! The first cover matches book one, Grave Mercy, so much more and the girl's posture is way more alluring. The second cover has some odd photoshop effect on the face that really throws me off, and it just seems too busy in a way. 


  1. Great post! As a reader, and someone who's obsessed with how books on her shelves, repackaging tends to drive me crazy, especially when done mid-series. I do think some of them are great, and obviously it's always nice to see a publisher putting effort in to bringing up sales one way or another! I wish Penguin had waited until Stephanie Perkins' entire trilogy was done before redesigning, but I do love the more iconic look of the rebrands. Similarly, Miranda Kenneally's cover for BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE is really cool, but I love the way her covers were so recognizably her, so it's sad to see them change. Definitely agree with all your above picks for positive redesigns, though!

    1. Thank you!! I agree with you about Steph Perkins--I love the new sort of instagram look! I don't own those books (LOVED Anna and the French Kiss though!) or I'd be more annoyed :) I've never heard of Miranda Kenneally--I'm going to look at her books on Goodreads now!

  2. Awesome post! Back in the day I worked in a used bookstore, and one of my favorite things was comparing different editions of the same novels. Some redesigns were great improvements, others were completely unnecessary but still interesting, and others were a definite step down. (One of the old editions of The Hobbit is the most unflattering thing ever. See here: It's also interesting to note how the trends of each decade influence redesigns.

    Spot on with the frustration aspect as well though; I too have bought new copies of entire series just to satisfy my bookshelf OCD.

    1. Thank you!! What an awesome job--I've always wanted to work at an indie or used book store! That Hobbit cover....there are now words! I love looking at different editions of classic book covers too--not only to see how each decade differs, but to try to guess which reader the publisher was trying to grab! Sometimes it is so obviously framing a book as a romance or a mystery or such, very interesting!