Wednesday, August 05, 2015

I Have Zoë Ferraris Covered!

I  have all sorts of interesting conversations with the folks who work at my favorite bookstore, The Poisoned Pen. The last time I was there, we were talking about authors we think should be making the obscene James Patterson amounts of money, and then we got to discussing the actual physical books themselves. We didn't get down to artwork and covers, but we did talk about book size.

I made a comment here a couple of weeks ago that it seems that UK books always seem to be bigger than their US counterparts. It's true again this week. One of the things we talked about at The Poisoned Pen was 9-inch tall books versus 10-inch tall books. It's believed that Americans are more liable to buy the taller edition than the smaller because they'll look to see that they're going to be paying $25.95 (or thereabouts) and they want to get the most for their money. Doesn't quite make sense to me-- it's the same amount of words in either edition, and the smaller is easier to handle-- but there you go. I wonder if UK publishers work with that same principle? As for me, I don't care what size the book is, or what it looks like on the outside, but I certainly am enjoying comparing these book covers!

Come join me in taking a look at this week's pair....

I read Zoë Ferraris' City of Veils and was blown away. My long overdue review of the first book in the series is coming up tomorrow, so I thought I would shine the spotlight on the third book, Kingdom of Strangers. Now let's talk covers.

The US Cover:

A person is walking toward us through a sheltered walkway. The walkway is a bit shadowy despite the glare of the blinding sun. I feel ill at ease. Why? Because I can't see the person's face, not even the eyes, and the person is dressed all in black. In a rust-colored disc at the bottom is the title and the author's name. Beneath the author's name is a mention of her previous two books. At the top, a good blurb from the San Francisco Chronicle: "A thrilling mystery.... A rare window into a culture that differs wildly from our own." The entire design is simple and uncluttered, yet tells us that this book is about another culture. I like it. I can feel the heat of the sun and appreciate the cool of the shadows while I'm wondering if I should avoid that dark figure walking toward me.

The UK Cover:

I really like the artwork for the UK cover. The dark minarets against a violent sunset, birds wheeling against all that color. The author's name and the title stand out well against the art, and we're told the title of her first book. (In the US, the title is Finding Nouf.) The bottom third of the cover is a winner for me. The top third is okay (Gotta have some info, don't we?), but the middle third is where the publisher ruined it all. At least for me. 

Why in the Sam Hill did they have to mention flavor-of-that-month Stieg Larsson??? These two authors have nothing in common other than the fact that they are both born storytellers. I guess I rebel quite strongly against such blatant marketing strategies. To paraphrase Brad Parks' editor when Parks was compared to Janet Evanovich, "She sells a lot of books, and if that comparison persuades her fans to buy your books, don't complain." If the Larsson comparison enticed people to buy Ferraris' books, then I'm happy. (But my lower lip may be stuck out a little. Just because.)

The Winner:

The US cover. Cleaner. Simpler. Mysterious. And no sign of irritating marketing ploys.

What about you? Which cover do you prefer? US? UK? Neither one? Inquiring minds would love to know!


  1. No! No! Anything but that! A cheap marketing ploy comparing a book by a woman author who writes about life in Saudi Arabia compared to a Swedish male author who wrote a complex trilogy full of social commentary and a few mysteries. No comparison.

    I won't read a book with that kind of publicity. Not fair to readers.

    I like elements of the British cover, especially the artwork in the bottom half.

    But the U.S. cover creates intrigue. It's alluring. We want to know why the woman is walking through that passageway and where she is going.

    I don't know if I've recovered from the ending of Ferraris' second book. I'll think about if I want to read this one. It's not just women's rights that are suppressed, but the criminal (in)justice system is so awful it's tough to read about, knowing it's based on reality.

    1. I see I'm not alone with my loathing of the Stieg Larsson marketing ploy. I often get so very tired of how those who make a living chasing the almighty dollar believe that I can be so easily led (or misled). And I know I'm not the only obstinate person around!

  2. Please, oh please, don't get me started on the whole Stieg Larsson thing, Cathy! As to these covers, I do like the US cover better. It just drew me in and you're right; you do know that the book is about another culture.

    1. I seem to have touched a sore spot with Stieg, and I fully understand why.

  3. That Stieg Larsson thing kinda blew it for me, too.

    Otherwise, the cover art on the UK version is quite striking. However, the US cover draws me a bit more.

    1. I think it's that figure in black, don't you?

  4. The book could also be titled, "Passage to Nowhere." I think the whole picture is mysterious.

    But not only is there NO comparison between Ferraris' and Larsson's writing, but he died years ago and his trilogy is no longer on the best-sellers' lists. The publisher is riding on a past popular set of books, no longer in the public eye. So, that's even weirder.

    1. Not really. The last Stieg Larsson was published in 2010, and KINGDOM OF STRANGERS came out in paperback in 2013. Larsson was such a phenomenon that he's had staying power-- especially since THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB is coming out September 1.


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