One Book Four Covers

Here’s an assortment of covers from the book I recently finished. I get a kick out of seeing how each would have shaped my expectations.

I read the second one from the left. It’s not a bad cover. Somewhat classy. The first one brings to mind a 1950s young adult novel — not a bad thing and I like the artwork. The third one looks like an off-market, but probably decent D&D supplement (maybe a Harn module). And the last one is kind of all over the place like the artist proposed three covers and the publisher decided to go with all of them. None of them make you really want to read the book, nor do they make the characters look appealing. Well, maybe the fourth one does or at least it comes the closest. The rest, eh, not so much. Which is a shame, because it’s a pretty damn good book if you like your vikings mixed in with Dumas-style adventurous swashbuckling.

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8 responses to “One Book Four Covers”

  1. ficfaq says :

    Yes, amazing how a different book cover of the same book would leave you with a different expectation as you start reading

    • Justin says :

      It also makes me wonder what market each publisher hoped to capture/interest with their cover. The only reason I decided to read it was because the publisher (NYRB) had already impressed me with their reprint selections.

  2. tina connolly says :

    Interesting! I agree with your analysis of each. I would add that #2 would actually be the most likely for me to pick up, because to me the cover screams reprint of a classic. (You know – it’s classy but not very interesting, looks like free, also-classic art, and you can easily imagine that layout multiplied by 50 across a whole selection they were bringing out. )

    The other three make the book look new to that era, and as such I would probably not instinctively grab a 60s or 80s viking fantasy off of the shelf. I might pick up the 50s one, though.

    • Justin says :

      Regarding #2, exactly. They also get modern authors to introduce their books. So this had an introduction by Michael Chabon.

  3. Rick Bowes says :

    Great range of covers and a great analysis. My favorite is the first and maybe I disagree about its YA tinge. For me it evokes the spare design that bespoke a product that was a bit more highbrow. Were these paperback or hardcover editions?

    • Justin says :

      My guess is the first one is hardback and the rest paperbacks (definitely two and four, and I’m going to guess three as well). The fourth also looks like it came out around the same time as the movie with Richard Widmark that’s loosely based on the book.

  4. asakiyume says :

    The one on the far right looks as if the marketing department said, “Put in a trophy woman! It won’t sell without a trophy woman!”

    All four covers seem to me to shout that the publisher feels the book will appeal mainly to boys, but the first and second from the left strike me as more accessible to your average geeky female reader. Either of those might have piqued my curiosity when I was younger because they would have said to me, “Here is a story about Vikings,” and I was interested in Vikings. The third from the left would have made me think it was going to be mainly battles, and the far-right one would have made me think there was going to be mushy and boring romance–and lots of fighting.

    • Justin says :

      Don’t harsh now on the trophy woman. She constitutes a good portion of the plot! And there’s more than one! Plot that is and trophy women!

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