"That dead fly just makes me want to look away. And wash my hands."
December 7, 2018 10:09 AM   Subscribe

 
Wow...you'd think just by chance she'd be right more often.

Anyway, this seems to be for a US office. Given that these covers are based on extensive knowledge of the markets, I would expect a US reader to prefer US covers. It would be interesting to see if an equivalent reader in the UK had a tendency to prefer the UK covers.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:22 AM on December 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I'm a UK reader and I definitely like more of the UK covers. And the ones where I preferred the US version, she prefers the UK one! I guess we have exactly opposite taste in book covers.
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


I mostly found myself loving the UK versions except for that fucking squished face because why ugh why.
posted by lydhre at 11:00 AM on December 7, 2018 [9 favorites]


I hate front covers with blurbs on them.
posted by praemunire at 11:12 AM on December 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


US reader here: I very narrowly preferred US covers to UK covers -- 7 US, 6 UK, 3 neither (Notes from the Fog, Killing Comendatore, The Mars Room).
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:29 AM on December 7, 2018


I've looked at a lot of US & UK dust-wrappers over the last twenty years or so and the weird thing is that I almost always prefer UK book design and US book construction (tho the difference in the quality of the book construction probably isn't as distinct as it was twenty or even ten years ago.) IME, UK books more often look cool, but quickly become brown and brittle, while US books are made better but often look unimaginatively designed. I don't know why that should be so.

Of the books on this particular list, I mostly prefer the UK covers with the exception maybe of The Witch Elm, Convenience Store Woman—I can go either way—and definitely Notes from the Fog, both of which I find fairly off-putting.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:33 AM on December 7, 2018


Yeah, I grew up with mostly UK covers (India seemed to get more UK-edition books, for whatever reason) and I find the US covers kind of blah compared to most of the UK ones.
posted by peacheater at 11:39 AM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


I’m in the U.S. and mostly preferred the U.S. ones. I think they tend to feel “cleaner”, which is helpful for my adhd brain. I especially like the U.S. covers for Asymmetry, Convenience Store Woman and Freshwater.

This post also helped me realize that I don’t like photos of people on the cover, as in the UK Convenience Store Woman and U.S. Mars Room - I don’t want to go into the book with any image in my mind about what any of the characters look like.
posted by imalaowai at 11:57 AM on December 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


This article did a thing fiction book recommendations seldom accomplish with me these days, which is making me want to read a newly released novel.
posted by ipsative at 12:23 PM on December 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


I hate front covers with blurbs on them.

yea, that's basically saying 'we like this author and all, but this other person who just read the book is so much more important we're going to put them on the cover as well" it's super insulting.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:51 PM on December 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


I like the Faber & Faber book designs best. They're much quieter and less gaudy.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 12:52 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Wow I'm feeling very American. There are a few UK ones I like more, but in general I gravitated towards the US ones. I guess marketing works!
posted by lucy.jakobs at 12:57 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


A shocking number of these covers from either side of the pond make it difficult to:
a) figure out which of the text on the cover is the title of the book; and/or
b) read the text once you've figured it out.

Maybe this is because we all buy our books on Amazon now and so we can read the title of the book in perfectly legible 16pt Amazon Ember right next to the picture of the cover but I find it very annoying.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:03 PM on December 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


I have not read Convenience Store Woman (though I want to), but the UK version is SO much better than the US "let's put some Japanese things on the cover" crap. What the hell is that.
posted by sunset in snow country at 1:09 PM on December 7, 2018 [9 favorites]


They're much quieter and less gaudy

Among publishers of fiction in English, someone at Fitzcarraldo Editions probably agrees with this sentiment. See also their essays and a photo of their paperbacks spread on a table.
posted by Wobbuffet at 1:56 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Convenience Store Woman U.S. cover is pretty obviously attempting to evoke the idea of the woman herself as a consumable (a tiny rice ball made to look like a woman's head), an "offering" the store makes to its customers. Not random at all.
posted by praemunire at 2:04 PM on December 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


> Wobbuffet:
"someone at Fitzcarraldo Editions probably agrees with this sentiment"

That's French-level spartan. A little illustration's welcome.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 2:11 PM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


The Notes from the Fog covers (both versions) were so off-putting — the US version because it was tediously banal, and the UK version because it was actively repellent — that it put me off of reading the rest of the article.

Seriously, whoever paid the cover designer(s) on that book got totally ripped off.
posted by darkstar at 2:22 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


As a third culture kid, I prefer the UK covers by a mile as their US counterparts feel too literal. As it is, I get all my contemporary literature paperbacks from Amazon UK, Book Depository and Abe Books (that's a lot of Amazon, I know, I'm working on it). I plan, for instance, to own every Nabokov title from this Penguin Modern Classics run that has an image from a British Modernist painting on the cover, like this one by Meredith Frampton.

The US/UK divide could not be clearer when it comes to cookbooks. It's as though American readers will only buy cookbooks if there are images of food on the covers: US edition of Feast by Anissa Helou vs the UK edition; US vs UK edition of Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat; US vs UK edition of Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi.
posted by peripathetic at 2:36 PM on December 7, 2018 [7 favorites]


I don’t think they are random “Japanese things” - looks like a play on onigiri, which I think are a staple of Japanese convenience stores?
posted by imalaowai at 2:37 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


It just looks so homemade on its little dish - I'd expect triangular ones in crisp plastic. Nothing about that cover says "convenience store" to me (though the woman-as-consumable idea is interesting, I suppose I really will have to read the book).
posted by sunset in snow country at 3:22 PM on December 7, 2018


To my eye these are all really overdesigned. I'm sure they'll look odd to people in a decade or two.
posted by Kattullus at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


My problem with the UK cover is that it doesn't look enough like an actual conbini ID, while onigiri are the #1 thing I associate with conbinis. Not that all conbini name tags look the same--when I lived in Sendai, the employee ID tags at the 7-11 near my house all had photographs that looked both furtive and mugshot miserable, as if being hired at 7-11 was the worst day of their lives, while the ID photographs at the Lawson near the train station looked ecstatic.

Also, I don't like photographs of people on book covers, and I don't really like any of the covers in this article. If I were forced to choose one, I'd go with the UK version of Normal People because that colour captures the feeling of reading the book.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:37 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's just weird to me that they even bother to have different book covers in the US and UK. And they're usually wildly different, too. Like… why?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:41 PM on December 7, 2018


Notes from the Fog feel tonally so different. Like, for the rest of them if I saw just the cover I would at least put them in the same category, but I can't imagine a book that could be summed up by both those covers.
posted by Tentacle of Trust at 4:55 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


I just finished doing the (complex 3D colour) diagrams, editing, formatting and indexing for an academic book and the three covers offered by the publisher are shit. I used a colour palette throughout the book and that's not referenced. They used Rockwell (font) for the title on all three, with an abstracty photograph. But then, they usually do that. Anyway, it sucks. People are going to buy this book on the content, not the cover.

Another book I worked on "reworked" my complex diagram (and acknowledged me, so that's nice) but they screwed up the perspective. A third book where the authors had me design the cover (yay!) was changed just enough for me to hate it. Bloody publishers. And they still want separate files for each chapter and part and tables and images in separate files as well. That first book I was whinging about has only six chapters but that ended up as 41 separate files, WTF. And one of the authors who kept making changes up to the last minute didn't know how to track changes. I mean, really?
posted by b33j at 12:53 AM on December 8, 2018


I don't know if it's this particular selection of books or that things have changed in general but when I've looked a US vs UK cover difference list / articles before, the difference between the US and UK covers were much more pronounced. UK covers. which I prefer, tended to be much more abstract or desingery with starker text etc. Whether I prefer the UK ones because I'm more used to them (being British) or that it's just my personal aesthetic is a question for psychologists.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:41 AM on December 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


The Convenience Store Woman U.S. cover is pretty obviously attempting to evoke the idea of the woman herself as a consumable (a tiny rice ball made to look like a woman's head), an "offering" the store makes to its customers.

There's also a riff in the book on how getting her meals from the store means that over time her body itself has become literally composed of convenience store products. (I like the US cover! It's superficially adorable and kind of unsettling once you start thinking about it, which fits.)

I'm a US reader, and generally when I had a preference on these, it was for the US version, although the UK version of Kudos is lovely. It's fascinating to think about what sort of aesthetic preferences and signifiers I've internalized without really knowing it.
posted by eponym at 8:35 AM on December 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


The squished-face one made me recoil from my computer screen.
posted by sarcasticah at 8:49 AM on December 8, 2018


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