Wednesday, March 20, 2013

how do you feel about cover re-designs?

Hello, all! It's Jana, here today to talk about something that happens in the book world that almost always drives me nuts. Cover re-designs. I'm sure you all know about the recent unveiling of Stephanie Perkins's new Anna and Lola book covers. I discussed it on my blog, if you missed it. Anyway, this announcement made me start thinking of all the other covers that have been made over throughout the years. It kind of drives me nuts! Here are my main points on this issue:
 
1. It's confusing to people who do not keep up with bookish news. My mom recently bought a book by her favorite author. Turns out it's the same book she read years ago, but with a new cover.


2. It destroys the brand identity of that book. Yes, Anna and Lola's covers were pushing it a little, and I didn't love them... but they became iconic. Everyone knew exactly what those covers looked like. We readers only have a title, author, and picture to go by when we browse bookstores. Everyone knows that pictures linger longer in our minds than names do. When I went looking for Twilight in my local bookstore years ago, I just remembered it had pale arms and hands, and an apple on the cover. I did not know the name, and I did not know the author. I went in and asked for the book with that cover, and the bookseller knew immediately. We know our books by their covers, just like we know our friends by their faces. If you change that, confusion happens. It's almost deceptive. 


3. If you're going to re-design a cover, PLEASE make it better than the original. At least then we can kind of understand the change. But if it's uglier, please leave it alone! Take Across the Universe by Beth Revis, for example. The book went through three cover design, and got progressively worse. I love the first one! The second was meh. The third? Please. It does not even look like a young adult romance anymore. It looks like an old sci-fi novel. I get that they want to appeal to a wider demographic, but there were other ways that could have been achieved. 


Now yes, I understand that sometimes the new covers are nice. Sarah Dessen's books, for example. I like the new covers, even though they all pretty much look the same now. I can handle that change, and I can appreciate the attempt at giving her a specific look and feel. A brand identity, if you will. 



And sometimes they are a necessary change. My Victoria Holt books have had some major face lifts. But that's to be understood. Some of her books are 50 or 60 years old. That makes sense. But Across the Universe went through two cover changes before book two was even released. Bad planning? Fickle pubs? Who knows? 



So, I'm going to jump off my soapbox now and give you the floor! How do you feel about this new bookish trend of re-designing covers? Are there any cover re-designs you love or hate? I wanna hear all about it. :)

49 comments :

  1. I get the frustration with cover changes,I love having all the matching spines on my bookcase.But I have to say I have been liking a lot of the new covers lately. Like the new Anna and the French Kiss, Curse Workers or Shatter Me series. Some not so much like the Born Wicked redesign. The first one was so pretty !

    I think the Sarah Dessen books needed the update, but now I have all of the photograph-based covers and when I get the new one it won't match ! I remember reading on Twitter someone asking if publishers could provide a matching jacket or something and I wonder if that is an option.

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  2. I don't just a book by it's cover. But by its cover I usually get carried away. And nice covers gets picked up first. I don't like it when they redesign book covers especially if the new one is ugly. I love covers with very beautiful artworks in them, but books with movie tie-in covers, I just don't pick them up.

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  3. I'm definitely NOT a fan of cover redesigns, except when it's like with the Victoria Holt covers, cause they're seriously outdated. I get REALLY annoyed when they change it right before the third book in a trilogy is released, because seriously? It just seems like the publisher is out to collect some money because a lot of us booklovers are obsessed with owning a matching set.
    I still can't get over that cover redesign for Stephanie Perkins books, it's just awful...

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  4. I don't mind it at all well except for the getting uglier thing. What I do mind is when the redesign is mid-series that drives me bonkers. Like the Shatter Me books. Unravel me has a totally different feel granted it matches the paperback and it's definitely better but it's annoying to have to decide about having all hard covers or having hard covers that don't match each other

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  5. It's definitely not a good sign when a cover goes through two changes before Book Two is even released. Maybe what publishers don't realize is that, while the cover is nice, what will keep readers coming back to a book, or help new readers flock to a book, is if the book itself is good. Changing a book cover so many times is like an insecure MySpace user switching between half a dozen profile pics every couple of days: it leads people to begin to wonder, why all the attention paid to the "cover"? What are they trying to "cover" up about the story itself?

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  6. Grr don't get me started on this subject SO FREAKING ANNOYING!!!!!! At least keep both options and print hardbacks in the original way or something...I know this won't be a realistic thing to happen due to cost eyc BUT STILL! ;)

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  7. Cover designs annoy me sooo much!! I get some if the reasons for doing it, of course, but still - whyyyy???? Frustrating for OCD bookshelf lovers

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  8. Yes! A lot of times I cannot remember if I read a book unless I notice the book cover. If it's got a completely new cover, I tend to think "oh new" and I don't realize until I get home and start reading that it all sounds vaguely familiar. I've never really noticed it before but it is definitely a part of the brand identity of that book. It helps a reader easily find the book and sets the mood for what's inside. Great post!

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  9. This fills me with rage. I feel like it's such a slap in the face to loyal readers that have been buying hardcovers since the beginning of the series. If the publisher wants to change covers, fine - but do it after the series is finished and in paperback so we can still have a matching set of hardcovers. Changing covers at the 3rd book in the series (which seems to be the trend now) is just not cool.

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  10. If the original cover was bad, I don't mind. Sometimes books are known for their covers though. Switching them confuses people. One thing I do hate is when the covers change in the middle of a series. I think that all series books need to sort of have the same theme on their covers, so I get annoyed when it differs. It ruins my collection. LOL!

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  11. Honestly, I don't mind cover re-designs that much. If anything I actually enjoy owning more than one copy of a book, especially for the diversity of (usually) pretty covers. Hence why I own all different types of the Harry Potter books and many different editions of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I even got excited that the John Green box set included new covers, so I now own two copies of all of his books.

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  12. I'm sooooo picky about editions that I purchase, as well as hardcover versus paperback, so the whole cover re-design thing irks me to no end. I think I have the movie tie-in cover for Twilight, but the rest I don't and that's just so irritating that I want to get rid of it.

    I really try not to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes that's what draws me in, and then if it gets changed...UGH.

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  13. I hate this as well! Especially when my series don't match!!!

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  14. I have to admit I like the new "Hunger Games" paperbacks, with their simple single-color-on-white designs and colored page edges. I can't find them online for some reason, but I know I didn't make it up!

    I also liked the "grown-up" covers they did for Harry Potter, even if it was kind of a gimmick to lure in older readers embarrassed by the original artwork. They were nicely executed, if nothing else. (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4255.Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher_s_Stone)

    One cover redesign I didn't like was for "Wicked" - it got rid of the beautiful illustration that match Gregory Maguire's other works and replaced it with a pretty standard-looking photograph of a woman standing in a field. The woman just happened to have green skin, which was the only indicator that the story was about the Wicked Witch. (http://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/5690777-wicked)

    And it really bugged me when "Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" took for freaking ever to come out in paperback...and then when it did, it was for a smaller book size! It took forever to get a matching trilogy! (Which I still haven't finished reading, whoops...)

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  15. Different demographics are interested at different price points, and in different formats, and we all know covers sell books. I suspect this drives much of the change.

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  16. I'm on the same page as you - ha, look what I did there. It drives me crazy! Sometimes I can understand the change, like you said. Bad cover, really old cover, maybe it was published way back when and you can't stand the sight of it any more... but give the original some time! It's like when Hollywood remakes movies/franchises that aren't even 20 years old. Really?

    Really?

    ~Andrea @ Beauty but a Funny Girl

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  17. I can understand why cover redesigns are necessary for older books --- you need to keep them fresh and relevant. But for newer titles, unless there's a severe identity crisis with the "brand," I don't see much of a reason for it. I'm a little OCD when it comes to my books (and series) so I like them all to match.

    What I do find interesting is correlation to cover updates and movie adaptations. Almost ALWAYS, you'll see a new cover on a book that matches its movie counterpart. Also, look at international versions versus US versions. Different every time! There's a British book series that I love and since they are always released in the UK first, I buy the UK version. The covers are ALWAYS different than the ones we see by the time they come out in the good ol' USA. This doesn't really bother me, I find the varations based on an audience's cultural differences quite fascinating. Perhaps I'm just a nerd though.

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  18. I agree, unless it's an improvement. Which it often is not. :(

    ~Sabrina@iheart y.a.fiction

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  19. I don't mind cover re-designs for paperbacks, or if they do them after the series has been completed. But it's crazy that they change a book two times before the series is even completed. In the case of Beth Revis' books each book in my trilogy is a different design, which is kind of insane.

    I get that redesign needs to happen, but I think publishers (esp Penguin) are going a little nuts with it. Shouldn't they figure out before hand what will work or not work for a cover? It's not like they're a start-up with no experience in the market. And I totally agree re: branding identity. Bloggers are unique at being 'in the know' with book news, and knowing the tools to figure out which books are just being re-packaged with new covers (or even new titles!), and which are actually new books. Most people don't have that type of experience or knowledge. I'm all for redesign years down the line, but when it's becoming common practice to change the covers for each new book? It's more than a little ridiculous, and I almost see it as a slap in the face for the loyal fans who are buying each new release. The fact that it's making people not want to buy the books until the whole series is out, or at least until they're in paperback? That's a problem.

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  20. I'm ok with the re-design for Sarah Dessen, because they weren't a dramatic change and are similar to the old ones, but I am not a fan or a lot of cover changes. The Stephanie Perkins cover re-design I am not a fan of. And, have you ever seen the Crash, Clash, and Crush series by Nicole Williams? I am not a fan of the re-design there. I felt the previous covers fitted the story more than the new ones

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  21. It's definitely an annoyance with me, especially when I own them. I agree with Kat C as the copy of Dessen's new one will look different than the rest of the ones I own. This doesn't bother me TOO much since they're stand alone and I also have a mix of hardcover and paperback. What DOES bother me is the midseries change. The first time I remember being annoyed was with the Georgia Nicholson series (Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging) way back when I was in high school. My friend owned them all and just about lost it when they redesigned around book 4 or 5. We just all like our books to look uniform and pretty. Why else would be buy so many of them, right? Libraries are fabulous but sometimes you just need to own the book!
    Great post, Jana!

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  22. I don't mind cover redesigns when they're true to the story, but I HATE redesigns that give the reader the wrong impression. One day at the library, for instance, a young woman was browsing for some light romantic fiction. Based on the cover and the description on the back, she chose a book about a woman torn between two men. She asked me if I knew anything about the story and if it would appeal to someone who loves Lauren Weisenberger and Jennifer Crusie. I told her that her selection wasn't really that sort of book. The title - Tess of the D'Urbervilles. This was a cover redesign aimed to sell the story as chick-lit, which it definitely is not.

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  23. I'm not a stickler for having a matching set, though I do like it. If a book comes out and I don't see it available with the previous cover, that's okay with me. HOWEVER! Movie tie-ins are ALWAYS bad.

    I've never read Perkins before (I know, I know), but I completely agree that her covers are so iconic by now. A few months ago I went to a talk Neil Gaiman was holding and he specifically mentioned covers and a bland, boring cover can make a book virtually impossible to find if the reader doesn't quite remember the title/author. As a bookseller, I deal with this everyday.

    I'm also not a fan of the Twilight-esque covers classics are receiving.

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  24. I don't understand why publishers change the covers of an existing series in the middle of a series, as with Holly Black's Curse Workers series. I can understand wanting to freshen up old books (as in the case of Victoria Holt's books). But Stephanie Perkins's covers are completely different now. I don't dislike the new covers. I just wonder why they didn't go that route in the first place if they feel the new covers work better.

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  25. I agree with you completely. I also will remember a cover before I remember a name or title. We're visual creatures, its to be expected.

    What I hate...when a book gets turned into a movie and then the cover is then updated to resemble the movie. That drives me insane! I will go out of my way to find and buy one with an original cover. Prime examples (from B&N at least) Warm Bodies, The Host, Breaking Dawn all look like movie posters. It ruins it for me.
    And end of my rant lol

    Sheri @ Perks of Being a Bookworm

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  26. Cover changes kind of bother me. Especially if they switch midway through the series and I've already bought the original covers! I really like them to match.
    The Perkins covers... They weren't the greatest. But they were really recognizable. As for the new ones... I'm still on the fence about them! I like them a little bit better because they're not as cheesy BUT I also don't think those are really that well done either. AND now Isla is not going to look like the other books. Bummer :(

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  27. I don't get why they have cover changes midway through series or when the books aren't very old... I also don't like redesigns of iconic covers (the Brit HP covers spring to mind). Some series and books are so defined by their covers that redesigns seem counterproductive!

    It would be great if you could just choose the cover you wanted...

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  28. I don't really like cover redesigns either. Particularly for the reasons you named. If you don't keep up with bookish things, then it'll just confuse you and you might end up buying a book you already have. At the same time, I know it's completely out of most of the author's control. A published friend of mine is currently having this very problem.

    She's writing a trilogy and the second book hasn't even come out yet, but her publisher has notified her that they will be changing the cover of the first book. Thus, if you have the hardcover copy version of that one and then the hardcover version of the final two in the series, it's not going to match. And like Leah said, a lot of people really want a matching set. It's out of her control, though. The publisher thinks the original cover is too "girlish" and it turns out a lot of the people who are buying the book are boys. I guess it's just a marketing scheme by the publishers for little reasons like that.

    For really successful books, I think sometimes they release a new cover so it can be like a "collectors" item, too.

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  29. I don't really care too much about cover redesigns, unless it is done in the middle of the series (like before the last books have been published). I really prefer the newer Dessen covers mostly because they (except 2) don't have any people on them. Most of my students are African American and a lot of my girls aren't interested in "white girl books". I also LOVE the new colored cover for Seraphina, its just so much more welcoming than the original. The only cover redesign I'm not a fan of is the Born Wicked one...I just thought the original was so gorgeous that this new one is kind of dull. :)

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  30. I totally hate the cover redesign! Drives me up a wall, especially when they also change the size of the book (those weird tall mass market books wreak havoc on my bookshelves!)

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  31. I think it depends. For instance, cover redesigns partway through a series drive me absolutely crazy because my books won't match (I'm a little neurotic about that). But I also hate cover redesigns that don't capture the essence of the book AT ALL.

    On the other hand, cover redesigns that do a better job capturing the story don't drive me quite so crazy (see: Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi). And if a book has been out for a really long time, there definitely is a good reason to update the covers a little to capture a more modern audience. (However, I did see versions of Wuthering Heights floating around that had been redesigned to look like the Twilight books...HUGE problem with that because it's not like Twilight AT ALL.)

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  32. I don't mind it -- said so on your blog too. What I hate is when they redesign an entire series (a la Harry Potter) before the last book and so I have all 6 in TP and then the 7th has a different spine and I am just -- grr.

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  33. I am generally not in favor of new covers, for many of the reasons you said. And I’ll add that I really HATE movie tie-in covers. Because sometimes I’ve just been too lazy to buy a book until it’s on sale, but as a movie tie-in copy, and then I’m stuck with that until I want to try to justify re-purchasing a book I already own because I want a different cover (hello, I Am Legend). I mean, I GET why publishers do it – especially in that instance – but, I still don’t like it.

    I also really dislike the new Anna and Lola book covers – and more than that, the display on my kindle changed to the new covers, even though I bought them under the old cover! I don’t know if I’ve read them now! (Well, I do know….. but I did have to look carefully at it to figure out that I knew what that book was now.) Add that to my list of “detractions” for e-readers.

    And, yes, I’ve re-bought the same book I already own because it had a new cover and I didn’t remember the title/author, so I didn’t know I had read it already.

    And I associate the picture to the story, so with Sarah Dessen’s books I keep having to re-read them now because I can’t remember which book it is. I don’t have time to re-read all those books! I need to move onto something new!

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  34. I am generally not in favor of new covers, for many of the reasons you said. And I’ll add that I really HATE movie tie-in covers. Because sometimes I’ve just been too lazy to buy a book until it’s on sale, but as a movie tie-in copy, and then I’m stuck with that until I want to try to justify re-purchasing a book I already own because I want a different cover (hello, I Am Legend). I mean, I GET why publishers do it – especially in that instance – but, I still don’t like it.

    I also really dislike the new Anna and Lola book covers – and more than that, the display on my kindle changed to the new covers, even though I bought them under the old cover! I don’t know if I’ve read them now! (Well, I do know….. but I did have to look carefully at it to figure out that I knew what that book was now.) Add that to my list of “detractions” for e-readers.

    And, yes, I’ve re-bought the same book I already own because it had a new cover and I didn’t remember the title/author, so I didn’t know I had read it already.

    And I associate the picture to the story, so with Sarah Dessen’s books I keep having to re-read them now because I can’t remember which book it is. I don’t have time to re-read all those books! I need to move onto something new!

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  35. As a general rule I'm against cover redesigns, UNLESS it is a whole series being republished at the same time! I've seen a few series that are older do a complete face lift to bring in new readers. I'm fine with that! Just PLEASE don't change the covers half way through a series. It drives me mad!

    Side note: Those new covers for Anna and Lola are just so boring. It's sad.

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  36. My jaded opinion: total marketing ploy.

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  37. They do it in attempts to get better sales on the book. Like Across the Universe- the first one is rather girly, and to a point the second version. I think this new round is to probably draw more guys who probably thought the earlier covers made it seem like a girly book. Personally, I love this third/series cover style. I have a weird thing about books with a guy and girl on the cover, and the second never drew me.

    I usually hate cover redesigns, mostly on the matching issue. But I am really loving the new cover design for the Virals series.

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  38. It drives me crazy. Sometimes the cover does get better but there are series like Across the Universe and Born Wicked that I absolutely loved the first cover design. Why change it!! Especially if a book has been out for a while. It's one thing to do it before the book is released. I understand that but not once it's already out there and the world and people are looking for that cover when they buy the book.

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  39. I like cover changes to a point, I don't think I would get a book again just because of the cover. After all we read books because of the content, we choose books because of the cover (well I know I do). So if it was something I hadn't read before I can see it being good but if it's something I have then it doesn't really matter. For example the Sarah Dessen books, I've read every single one, not feeling the new covers and honestly when they first came out I thought oooh a new book, but nope it was just a recover. So tricky sometimes.

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  40. I hate when book covers are re-designed after the second title releases because then my copies don't match! It makes me very upset!

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  41. Your point about it destroying brand identity makes so much sense. I would be so frustrated if I was looking for a book based on an old cover, and could never find it because it had been redesigned. And I totally agree about the Across the Universe covers. I loved the first one so much! The only one from the newest version that I like is Shades of Earth.

    Sometimes I think the redesigned covers are worth it (Shatter Me, for example), but often the changes just seem weird and unnecessary (Curseworkers series, Across the Universe series, etc.).

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  42. Oh man, that Across the Universe redesign is PAINFUL! I seriously don't understand it in the slightest.

    While I haven't been annoyed by a switch like that in some time my biggest frustration comes from books that have been made into movies and they change the cover to feature the actors. SO ANNOYING! It makes me not want to buy the book with the new cover because I feel like I'm supporting the movie and not the actual book itself. Also? I don't have posters of actors up in my home now that I'm older, and I sure as hell don't need them on my books!

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  43. Great post! I don't mind a cover redesign, but I agree -- if it's got to be done, make them BETTER! I actually liked the Beth Revis covers, but I hated that the first book (with the new cover) wasn't released a a hardcover. So I bought the THIRD book as a hardcover, but the format of the first book still won't match, so I didn't bother. Instead I have a softcover old cover, hardcover old cover, and hardcover new cover. Blah.

    I never even thought about REBUYING books that you already own due to cover changes. That sounds like something I would do!

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  44. I think redesigns are fine, as long as they wait until the entire series is already published. Changing it in the middle like Across the universe seems really odd. And to change it from that beautiful original, I don't understand it at all.

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  45. I really hate cover redesigns when they happen mid-series because then they don't match when they're next to each other on my bookshelf, especially if they change the size.
    I blogged about the new Steph Perkins covers here: http://anabundanceofkathryn.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/new-steph-perkins-covers.html
    The Sarah Dessen redesigns look all right because they still have the same 'feel' but I really don't like the Across the Universe ones as they make it look like a whole different genre (also the original one was shiny!).

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  46. I totally agree with you! I read Across the Universe when it was in my library(original cover) I then, loving it so much, went to go buy it and could only find it in the second cover. I was so disappointed. The first cover was by far my favorite and the last one was my least.
    http://www.nobentspines.blogspot.com/

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  47. Late to the conversation, but I agree that cover redesigns midseries usually are a bad thing, since they don't improve on the original series. The only cover redesign that I've liked is the ones done to Stephanie Perkins books, but I'm in the minority.

    I think Delirium benefited from the cover redesign, but other than that it's usually a bad idea.

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  48. Across the Universe has been confusing me so much! I keep seeing different covers in store/reviews and don't remember that it's the same book until I read the back (horrible memory for titles D:). I probably would have bought it months ago if I had been able to connect the reviews with one cover to the book I was holding in my hand at the store!

    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings

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  49. Mostly I hate when they redesign book covers because the book was made into a movie. Whenever that happens I try my best to find the version that doesn't have the huge, obnoxious "NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE" seal on it. Ugh.

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