Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I Have Mark Douglas-Home Covered!

I had a completely different author lined up, but then I thought I would put some more emphasis on the book I reviewed yesterday. Mark Douglas-Home's The Sea Detective is indeed one of the best books I've read so far this year, and if I had to rank those "best of the best" books, I'd probably put it at either #1 or #2. It breaks new ground and has the combination of character and story that I just can't resist.

I'm also doing something a bit different today. The two covers you're going to see are both from the UK. One cover is from a large publishing house (Penguin), and the other is from a small publishing house (Sandstone Press) based in the Highlands of Scotland. Ah-- now you know why I changed things around a bit! Not that I'm fond of the Highlands or anything.... 

I'll stop blathering so we can take a look at the covers--


Let's face it: Penguin is going to have a lot more money to spend on a book cover than a small press in the Highlands. Both of them use the same blurb-- in various incarnations-- from The ScotsmanHaving read the book, I agree with the blurb, but its presence wouldn't make me spend my hard-earned money on either copy.

Penguin's cover does look "slicker," more professional, and it focuses on the detective part of the book's title. Personally I think those gulls are up there laughing at the guy because if he keeps walking to the end of the pier where that raging sea is beating against it, he's an idiot (or he enjoys being drenched in ice cold sea water). I like the font that is used for both the title and the author's name, but to be honest, the whole thing looks a bit generic to me. This is definitely the time that I'm glad that what always grabs me first about a book is its title. The title of The Sea Detective certainly intrigues me, and that's what would make me pick up the book-- not the guy taking a long walk off a short pier.

By contrast, the small press's cover emphasizes the sea part of the book's title, although I find it only partially successful. The ocean waves look like a bit of stylized Japanese art, and they really don't fit in with the top half of the cover. I like the fonts used for both title and author's name, but I do think Douglas-Home's name should be a shade or two lighter to show up better. What grabs my attention is the top half. The ghostly figure of a young woman can be seen. Is she drowning? Is she trying to tell us something? Is she just a ghost? I think the cover would've been much more successful if the stylized waves had not been used... just the continuation of the young woman's body seen through many feet of murky sea water. What do you think?

To be honest, neither cover won me over. As I said earlier, the thing that would make me buy this book is the title and the synopsis on the back. Using my perfect hindsight, I would be tempted to buy the Sandstone Press copy simply because I believe in supporting small presses, but that's got nothing to do with any book cover appeal.

What say all of you? Which cover do you prefer? Large press? Small press? Neither one? Inquiring minds would love to know!




  1. Eh, I don't love either of them really. Something about the font on 'big press' is not to my taste. And I don't like those waves on the 'small press'. I do agree about supporting the small presses and it's true that the covers are often not as 'commercial' or something. Not as much money indeed. So, you really, really, really liked this book, right? LOL

  2. I'm not really excited about either cover, to be honest, Cathy. They're not awful, but neither makes me want to stop and look...

  3. I love the font on the big press edition and I think that the cover has balance.

    I'm going against the majority to say that I like the waves on the small press cover. BUT, they don't really go with the rest of the cover.
    I've seen too many drowning women images lately; it seems they're becoming as common as the back of the land-lubbing walking woman. Obviously then, I don't think the full image of the drowner is the answer.

    Overall - the big press would have caught my eye; the small press would have intrigued me if I was in a quirky mood.

    1. Yikes-- I've missed the whole drowning woman image thing. I think I'm glad!

  4. I read it because of a good review here copy from the library was the one on the right ..It did remind me of Japanese art ..but can I confess I didn't notice the face .... ha ha observant aren't I ..of course now you point it out I don't know how I missed it ???? Good story though..I really enjoyed it.Looking back at Cath's review she shows a different cover ...the best one I think!

    1. I'll have to double check Cath's review to take a look at the cover. By the way, she's the second rave review I read that made me order the book as quickly as possible!

  5. I never saw the fact at all. I like the small press cover because I have that version. I bought it online so I didn't see the cover except as an online ad. But I'm fine with it.

    It's interesting as is the book.


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