Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cover Attraction

Hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page who says:

"I love beautiful, or interesting, cover art so every Wednesday I post my Cover Attraction for the week along with a synopsis of the book. Everyone is welcome to stop by and post a link to their favorite weekly book cover."

This week's edition is about copycat covers.

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (2008)

The Pra
ctice of Perfection by Mary Frances Coady (2009)

I loved The Secret Scripture and I love the cover. I love the second cover too. But Barry's book is so well know since winning the Costa Prize only a year before Coady's book was published, that I wouldn't want the same cover on my collection of linked short stories if I were this Canadian author. What say ye?
And then there's no cover:

The Waves by Virginia Woolf

I ordered this title from Amazon and this is what they sent me. I'm supposed to make my own cover!? I'm too old and too old fashioned for this monkey business. Now I have to read a book, a classic no less, with no image in my head, no sense of the story-none. Obviously I hit the button to order what they are calling a "My Penguin". On the back of the book is a boxed space to fill in "Cover by:" for your own name. Then this silliness: "What's on your cover? Send your masterpiece to and we'll put up a selection of designs for book covers everywhere to enjoy." I don't own a camera and I can't draw. I feel like I've been robbed.
Anyone know about this? When did it start? Do you like the idea?


  1. That is a great cover. I don't understand why they had to re-use it, though.

  2. WOW. I'm surprised that the exact same image was used twice. I mean, I've seen a lot of look alike covers but that really takes the cake.

  3. Nik Burton - Coteau BooksJanuary 13, 2010 at 5:36 p.m.

    So, say you're a smallish publisher casting about for an excellent image to use on your short story collection featuring novices entering a Catholic convent. You find the perfect image, but wait...has it been used by another publisher? Recently? How on earth do you find out? How much time do you spend trying to research it? There is a way, I believe, that you can "reserve" an image at a commercial image bank for x amount of time, but it costs a whack of dough to do so. If the image isn't reserved, Veer or Getty or whoever doesn't actually tell you "hey, you know that some other fella just used this on a book last month, don't you?" So, we used the perfect image for our book cover. We had no idea that someone else thought it was perfect for their book as well. It happens.

  4. Wow, that's a great copycat cover find! And how interesting that the publishing house commented on your post. It must suck to be in their position.

    And that Penguin cover fail is just plain weird!

  5. *Kathy, Marie: It seems the very publishing house involved has explained it to us. See the *Nik Burton - Coteau Books comment.
    It appears that smaller houses purchase their cover photos. We're used to thinking of the big ones who can afford photographers, designers, illustrators etc. I suppose. Now we know. I think if I were a publisher, or a writer, I'd demand to know how many times and on which books the cover has been used. Surely someone could make a living from keeping track of these things on a a website and getting a fee for it. I'm fantasizing now I think. Nebmind.

    *Nik Burton - Coteau Books: Thank you for taking the time to give us a perspective on a part of the business we don't know about. From what I've read about the book, I agree that the cover is probably the perfect image for The Practice of Perfection. It is on my to-be-read-if-the-library-has-it list (my apologies, I can't afford to buy books). I will be using it in the Canadian Reading Challenge 3 and a short story challenge. If I think it's good it will get a bit of attention.
    I also intend to incorporate your comment or it's main point in an appropriate post. Book bloggers and people who wonder about reuse of covers would want to know this. I wish you every success in what is today a difficult and highly competitive business.

    *avisannschild: Nice that they'd bother to make a comment on my blog but I hope they weren't insulted. Funny that you are the Queen of copycat cover features with dozens of posts on them, and I get 'told' by a publishing house on my third post.
    I'm still shaking my head about that Penguin idea. I should look up the url and look at their customer's "masterpieces", but I'm too busy reading.:)

  6. Fascinating discussion! Yes, I do find copycat covers interesting, and it's too bad that all the houses are using stock photos. It's great for the small presses like Coteau (who, by the way, I think consistently have the most beautiful covers of all small presses)but would be nice to see larger houses showing some original work when they can afford it. Better all around for everyone.

  7. There are so many copycat covers out there since so many publishers don't want to splash out and buy the exclusive rights to images. The second author might benefit from some people picking her book up by mistake when looking for the Costa Award winner though.

    As for the no cover thing, that would make me a tad bit batty. I prefer someone else to do my cover so I can either oooo and awwww over it or grumble about it. ;-) I don't want to make my own.

  8. The Penguin cover bugs me. I can draw, but I'm sorry, I have other things to do with my time than save Penguin money by drawing my own covers. Maybe I'm misjudging them, but to me it just seems cheap and gimmicky.

    Interesting post, and thanks for stopping by to comment on my Cover Attraction post, Sandra. :)

  9. this is very interesting - I always like to think that the art was designed just for that book. I guess that is naive!

  10. LOL! This is the first time I've heard about books without covers :)

  11. I was going to say the Barry copycat was being a bit pretentious but now that sounds ignorant and judgmental. And I'd be miffed about that coverless Penguin too. I can see that some might like something like that but come on.

  12. I like the copy cat cover! It is funny that they would use the same picture. I have never heard of the "create your own cover" thing. Don't like it. Won't buy a book like that. YIKES.

  13. I actually kind of like the white cover. I wouldn't want to get it unprepared, but it's a kind of neat idea... a little weird and maybe even cheap, but pretty cool too.



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