Wednesday, March 04, 2015
I've Got Laurie R. King Covered!
If it ever comes up in bookish conversation, I will normally say that I'm not a cover junkie. That I don't care what the outside of the book looks like, it's the inside that counts. Although it's true that the words inside a book count for worlds more than the artwork on its cover, I'm still a bit of a liar, aren't I?
99% of the time I go book shopping with a list (helps me avoid the dreaded duplicates), but what do I do on those rare occasions when I'm just browsing? What makes me decide to pick up one book and not another? Again, I could fib a little and say that the title is what attracts me. Long ago when I was a librarian helping well-known patrons choose their next batches of books, I'd go to their preferred genres and book titles would be the first thing I'd look for. But as I said-- I'd still be fibbing a little. (Unless absolutely none of the books are faced out and all I can see are the spines.)
Any book lover can tell you that the very first thing they see when they're browsing is the book cover. After all, the publishers paid for that artwork to catch our eye and entice us to buy, buy, buy. Once I was finally honest with myself and admitted that the cover is the first thing I see, that led me to another thought about those pesky duplicates.
What if-- like me-- you read a lot of books published outside the USA? Since English is the only language I read with complete comfort, that means that I'm very familiar with the names of publishing houses in the UK. Quite a few of my favorite authors are published both in the US and the UK, and that has explained several of my duplicate copies over the years. Exact same book, but different countries, different publishing houses, different book covers. See why I've trained myself to shop with a list?
This same book/different cover has led me to a favorite little game however. A game of Which Cover Is the Best: the American or the British? This week I thought I would have you join me in the game with Laurie R. King's recently released Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery, Dreaming Spies.
On the left you can see the UK edition of Dreaming Spies. On the right is the US edition. The UK cover ties in with Mary and Sherlock's travels to Japan with the ship and the Japanese-style branch of blossoms and the moon. But for some reason, it falls a bit flat for me. Perhaps if I could see it in the flesh and hold it and catch the glimmer of the gold ship and blossoms, I'd warm to it more.
The US edition also has ties to Japan with the stylized border and the flowers. It also brings in Oxford University, renowned for its "dreaming spires." If the cover stopped with the border and the spires, I might choose it, but there's a deal breaker on that cover. What is it? That woman in a hat looking toward Oxford. What can I say? I'm sick to death of seeing the back of a woman's head on a book cover. I figure marketing thinks all the women who see this are going to put themselves in the place of the cover girl. That's why you can't see her face. If you do see her face, you won't be as willing to put yourself in the story.
If only that worked for me. But it doesn't. I hate wearing hats. There are only two weather conditions in which I'll even consider wearing one: either to keep the desert sun from frying my brain or to keep sub-zero temperatures from freezing my ears off my head. Besides, there's just something downright rude about all these women standing around with their backs to me.
So there you have my dilemma. I honestly don't know which cover I'd choose! Do you?
Which cover appeals to you? The UK edition or the US edition? Inquiring minds would love to know!