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It is a truth universally acknowledged that american book covers suck, and UK book covers rock.

However, I think I may have found an exception.


Which cover do you prefer?

11(25.0%)
33(75.0%)


EDIT: The second one is the US edition. Retro-futurism wins!
 
 
 
 
 
 
of course, one might add that you are from the uk, so the uk covers are for your market (not ours) -- if you prefer them, this means that the designers are doing their jobs!
if you prefer them, this means that the designers are doing their jobs!

I hadn't thought of that. Poor designers, forced to produce substandard covers to accomodate american tastes. ;-)

Since I first saw it a while ago I thought this should be an award winner. And Zeppelins too! :-)
Yeah, I'm a sucker for anything vaguely retro-futuristic. :-)

(You know about Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, right?)
Yep. Can't wait.
I'd not seen this before... I can't view the trailer, but the site itself is tempting enough...
... oh, come on!

Sure, they have a bit of a habit of over-cluttering covers with screechy quotes and bits of gold foil, but the artwork is often streeeeeeeets better, and they suffer a lot less from the invasion of out-of-focus pretentious murky wank.

Plus, they're cheaper and far more often likely to fit into your jacket pocket.

American paperbacks rock.
the artwork is often streeeeeeeets better

That could be because American SF book covers use British artists almost as much as American artists. Try Jim Burns, Chris Moore, Les Edwards, Fred Gambino... It's not the artwork, which is 9 times out of 10 always of a high standard whoever did it, it's the surrounding design and typography that is often poorly thought out. Tor Books are generally good, DAW books are usually just average at best, and Baen Books are the absolute worst. And if you want out of focus pretentious murky wank, just look at US publisher Vintage's covers for their current reprints of Samuel R. Delany's books. Pretentious murky wank and boring, and they don't fit in your pocket either. :-)
It's not the artwork, which is 9 times out of 10 always of a high standard whoever did it, it's the surrounding design and typography that is often poorly thought out.

OK, that's a fair comment. Although I still say that some of those fantasy covers are just bad.

reprints of Samuel R. Delany's books.

I quite liked those...
And you tend to find that 'high-end' US paperbacks are gorgeous, and far better than expensive UK "trade-paperbacks"...

I was posting about this yesterday, but stupidly lost the post. Publishers like NYRB and Four Walls Eight Windows produce beautiful paperbacks, in the £8-£12 bracket, that are far better than comparably priced UK paperbacks...

And Vintage International do some good paperbacks - their editions of The Hunters by James Salter and The Stories of John Cheevor are very good; and because they're so good, you don't resent paying a bit more for them...

O - here is a good cover from Four Walls Eight Windows:



It's the Mass Market US stuff that has the bad reputation - my US paperback of Declare is horrendously tacky... But it only costs something like £4.50 - you get what you pay for!
Lots of the small presses do very good stuff. PS publishing is usually excellent (although I can't say the same about some of the typesetting) and, well, then there's this from Golden Gryphon:



It is not uncommon for me to buy a book that I already own if I see it again in a particularly nice edition. :)
I don't think I could find them, but there are a set of covers for Bob Shaw's Ragged Astronaut novels that are very nice - and I did get a duplicate copy of The Ragged Astronauts so I could have the better cover...

Well, there's a dodgy jpeg here of the good cover... Sadly, I can't find the really bad jacket art...

That Breathmoss cover is good, but I'm not sure about the typeface... :o)

PS publishing is usually excellent (although I can't say the same about some of the typesetting)

Yes, the "Stepehen Baxter" on the spine of Riding The Rock was rather unforgivable...
when I said better, I didn't mean technical craft, which generally does tend to be good for SF book art. I meant boldness of design and subject matter. I meant colour. I meant vigour, clarity, zap!

The obsession with being taken seriously in the UK produces dull, samey, over-produced, tedious-booking covered with out-of-focus photos and Neil Gaiman's favourite fonts.

And Vintage are bad offenders, yes.

(will stop ranting now, sorry)
(still dreaming of finding somewhere the beautiful Daw edition of Ballard's Vermillin Sands, which has a gigantic jewelled crab on the cover)
Two comparisons between UK editions and their Vintage USA counterparts:



I must stop; but I can't decide between this and this . The first one is the US; the second, UK... I think I prefer the US cover...
I think I should've mentioned that the US cover for 'Engine City' was quite impressive ... I noted how unusually nice it was relative to coverart conventions.

Speaking of Delany ... notice how apalling some of these 'sci fi classics' coverart reprints are? (thinking of Stands on Zanzibar, some Delany or other, plus more examples...)
The difference on his newer one is more stark, and makes me kinda wish I could get the american cover somehow...

american cover

On the other hand, I can buy a a copy of the cover as a poster which looks nifty!

uk cover (with grinning fool)


Started reading it today, pretty good, both Morgan and Ken are nailing that killer first chapter marvellously in their new releases. In fact, time to read some more.
Umm - I think I'd want to see them all without the text. I *hate* the font on the US edition...... It is difficult to compare these to from the photo.....
A bit more detail...

Here's the UK cover photographed without a fool.


And here's the two from locus in black and white with text.
And now that I've posted that it suddenly occurs to me that a well produced black and white cover would truely kick ass. just to stand out against all the colour.

Also, you're all crazy, the only US cover for Macleod that beats the UK is Newton's Wake. Perhaps there's something in the water up (and/or over) here...
You are right that the Newton's Wake US cover is a thing of beauty. You are wrong that the other UK covers are better. As the poll conclusively shows!

Do we know what the UK cover for Singularity Sky is going to be like, yet?
I'm not sure about Singularity Sky, but the US cover of Iron Sunrise is quite, quite lovely...

(dies and goes to geek heaven)
I like both - though the US version probably just edges it. The artwork *is* probably better - but in Niall's example the pedesrian typeface is incredibly jarring. Here it is much more sensitive and hence works much better.
The US version wins - and I like the typography (in your other post) on the US one...
On 'Newton's Wake'? The US typography is horrible! The UK one's much better. I think the US picture is better, though, but not by much - i prefer the US subject and the UK composition.

-- Tom
Ah, well - I don't like the whole "lower-case" thing on the UK editions... The US typeface seems more dymanic, and perhaps more futuro-industrial [note: word made up by someone slightly drunk].

So, that's why I don't like the UK font. Not sure, however, that I like anything about the UK art, whether subject or composition :o)

Oh well!

;o)

Anon,

G.
Orbit are also re-issuing all MacLeod's 'Fall Revolution' books using the lower case typography. Take a look here. I like it better than his UK hardcovers, which all used unimaginative all-caps type.
Mmmm... I quite liked the old one.

Where did all this 'Fall Revolution' stuff come from? I don't remember it being called that when I read The Star Fraction, many, many years ago...
Mmmm... I quite like the old cover :o)

And where did all this 'Fall Revolution' stuff come from? I don't remember it when I first read The Star Fraction, many, many years ago...
If you want another exception, there's always theCoraline hardback covers. US cover by Dave McKean - lovely and spooky and relevant, with nice text. UK cover - a photo of a house, with functional text. OK, so it's an attempting-to-be-spooky house, but it's a little disappointing. Curse you, Bloomsbury!
Actually, Coraline I could go either way on, I think (although yes, the US edition would probably have the edge. Probably).

Am I imagining it, or did they use the US cover for the UK paperback edition?
I'm afraid you are imagining it; they didn't.

However, the UK paperback cover is much more similar to the US cover than it is to the UK hardcover image. It has Coraline and the cat on it (I would be more descriptive, but Paul has my copy ATM) while the US cover is Coraline carrying a candle IIRC.

Gail
Oooo - this is amusing, because when you mentioned Macleod earlier in the week I went straight to Amazon.com looking for the covers... But I couldn't find a US version of his new one, Newton's Wake.

Also, I remember the US cover of Cosmonaut Keep being far more attractive than its UK counterpart...

Here they are, the UK and the US.

I really like the way the water is disturbed by the craft in the US cover...
The full artwork for the US edition is even better. :)
Well, apart from the little guy in the centre foreground, anyway.
Er what? What the fuck? Nice art but shitehouse cover for Cosmonaut Keep. There's nothing like that in the fucking book!
That is very, very good - but as someone has noted, I'm not sure if it's completely relevant to the novel... (hence the careful cropping?)
I always thought the UK illustration looked like a giant Philishave...
The US cover has what are quite clearly spacetrams, and must therefore be Croydon. The UK cover has a monstrous inferno-like underground structure, and is therefore clearly Bank.

I hope this clarifies things.

-- Tom
You are truly wise. They should hire you for the TRAM CONTROL CENTRE!
Is it worth picking up this latest MacLeod. I felt kind of hum-drum about Cosmonaut Keep - this entire series doesn't seem to have the same drive/pace of MacLeod's 'Star Fraction' collective.

The Engines of Light trilogy (Cosmonaut Keep, Dark Light and Engine City) isn't as good as his first books, no. Engine City is fantastic, but you have to get through two merely-average novels to get there (snowking will try to convince you that CK is good. He wrong).

Newton's Wake is a standalone novel set in a different milieu again. The Locus review made it sound a bit lightweight, but quite fun; I'm going to give it a go, but I'm either going to borrow the hardback or wait for the paperback.
(snowking will try to convince you that CK is good. He wrong).

You go to hell. You go to hell when you die!
Yeah, I read CK and Dark Light ... so maybe I should complete the cycle with EC.

Still, I just couldn't find any gripping romance drama in the poorly conceived love triangle of the first two books, and was quite happy to see it given up on in the 2nd book.