Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I Have Sue Grafton Covered!

I've been doing a little "research" on book covers, and I think I'll have some interesting comparisons for you in the weeks and months to come. I'm happy to say that there's only one book that will have the old half-a-face or back-of-the-head gimmicks that I love so much (ahem). Could it be that publishers are getting tired of that old chestnut, or is it merely the luck of my draw? Who knows!

This week I'm comparing the US and UK covers of one of Sue Grafton's "Alphabet" series of mysteries starring Kinsey Milhone. Perhaps not everyone has read one of these books, but I would imagine most people could take one look at a cover and say, "Oh yeah. I recognize those." At least as far as the US covers go. Wait till you take a look at the UK cover! No... don't wait. Let's take a look right now!


I must be nosier than I thought because the sight of that open purse on the UK cover makes me want to take a look inside it. I don't know why because-- due to my previous employment experience-- I've had to look inside a lot of women's purses. I came away convinced that the vast majority of them need a really good clean-out. But I digress.

The UK Cover

It's been quite a while since I've read T is for Trespass, so I'm not sure what significance that purse has to the action in the book. The UK cover keeps the wording to a minimum. You get author, title, the fact that it's a Kinsey Milhone mystery, and a rather meaningless blurb that tells us that it's "A ceaselessly engrossing thriller." (Why bother?) The only thing the UK cover has that I object to strongly is that green background. Yes, it shows the other objects well, but I am not a fan.  Hmmm... red and green. Did this come out at Christmas time? (Oh oh. I seem to be feeling a bit sarcastic today....)

The US Cover

On the other hand, the US cover couldn't be simpler. Erm... yes it could if the publishers got rid of the blurbs at the bottom and the top. Does Sue Grafton really need blurbs? Really? I don't think so, and since they both mention the New York Times, I'm going to be outrageous here and wonder if the aforementioned publishers owed the newspaper a favor.

As far as I'm concerned, the US covers for Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone books are iconic. Author. Title. That great big letter of the alphabet. All of those standing out sharply against the background. What more do you need?

Author. Title. Big letter of the alphabet. I can see that cover across the room with my glasses off. Sometimes big and bold and simple are all that you need.

My Verdict (as if you couldn't already tell)

Hands down-- the US cover. What about you? Agree? Disagree? Inquiring minds would love to know!



  1. I'm with you on this one, Cathy. I like the US cover better, too. I suppose it's partly the simplicity, and partly that I'm accustomed to that look in the rest of the series.

    1. I don't think the covers started out that way, but I'm glad when they latched on to that concept.

  2. My first (& immediate) reaction is to go with the US cover. As you say, it's iconic. But what if that's the only reason I like it?

    I'd like the UK cover against just about anything other than that icon. I think there are clean lines, but enough details to keep me interested in looking at at it. (I love looking inside women's purses!) If UK readers aren't familiar with the US cover look, then that just might be the best choice there.

    BUT, I do admit - the chrome yellow and black beats the hot pink and green. Overall - I'm going with what's familiar - the giant "T"!

    1. Your one little mention of "hot pink" jarred my brain to work properly. The UK cover really sets itself up as "women's fiction," doesn't it? What man do you know who'd willingly carry around a book showing an open purse on the cover? On the other hand, there's no such gender bias on the US cover.

  3. I'm partial to the U.S. cover, too. It's simple and the style for Grafton's books in recent years is to have a large letter and then the rest of the title under it.

    I don't mind the NYT quote because it doesn't clutter up the cover design.

    But -- the British cover looks so cluttered. I frankly didn't know what I was looking at until I read your post.

    I'm so used to the alphabet series' cover being simple that I just can't deal with the British version. Also, do we want to look in women's purses? Mine is all I can deal with as so much is in it. It's not compelling.

    And that green -- oy!

    1. I had to go through Lost & Found items where I worked, and I can't begin to tell you how many women left their purses in the store. When I'd go through them to try to find some sort of way to contact them and see how much of their lives they carried around on their arms/shoulders, I'd wonder how on earth they could ever leave the things behind. And the ones that were never ever claimed? Perhaps it's the genre of books I read, but I couldn't help suspecting foul play.

  4. It could be the genre you're reading. But I'll testify about this: I have two friends who lose things, one constantly: wallets, glasses, keys, so neighbor friends have to have an extra set for her, credit cards, etc. It just happens.
    Another friend loses necessities inside her apartment.
    I have to help her look sometimes for basics.
    So, I kind of understand losing purses. I think one possibility is that the women go on several errands and have no idea where they could have left a purse or anything else and get overwhelmed.
    So they just cancel the credit cards and start from scratch to replace everything.

    1. I think I've been lucky in that the only "children" I've ever had, I could leave at work at the end of the day. I know they contribute a lot to people feeling overwhelmed.

  5. Friends who are getting older and juggle a lot of tasks often lose things. And it's not dementia.

    I'm a firm believer in "everything has its place," so I know where things are in my house. Not everyone is this way I have learned.

    And some people can work with tons of clutter on their desks. I can't. And things are left everywhere.

    So, people lose things. Also, insomnia is a factor. The more tired one is, the more likely to lose items.


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