Two Books, Same Cover?

Gabe Habash -- June 11th, 2012


Along with the plague of “The ____’s Daughter” books that are ravaging bookshelves, there’s also this weird practice of recycling art for different books (see here and here and here).

The latest example is the plate (also done, with a more sinister image, by Melville House last year with How the Dead Live), which is getting served up at least two more times in 2012.

Book #1: Cures for Hunger by Deni Y. Bechard, a memoir published by Milkweed Editions in May 2012.

Book #2: This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky, short stories published by St. Martin’s in November 2012.

We’d like to suggest the following solution to Jacket Cloning: all books with 80% similarity in cover art (as determined by people with working, color-seeing eyes) should be sold next to one another in bookstores–at all times–in order to determine the winner. Like evolution. Just like how Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is always, always sold next to Gus Van Sant’s Psycho, to punish Gus for his hubris.

9 thoughts on “Two Books, Same Cover?

  1. Chris

    Really, PW? This is a breaking-news scandal? You’re flailing away at a horse here, one that’s long been flogged to death by publishing outsiders—and thoroughly dismissed by those on the inside. Two books, from two different houses, in two different shelf categories, share a similar cover concept? It must be a conspiracy! No, it’s just inevitable; once in a while it happens. Move on.

  2. Luis Ortiz

    So you’re saying that because a designer used a dinner plate on a cover there should never be another book cover ever created using a dinner plate as the center image? If you want to see some real clones you should go check out the romance book section, or even the cookbook shelves at B&N. Your example hardly qualifies.

  3. Adrian Morgan

    You have little understanding of the jacket design process; the rounds of radically different covers produced and the many people involved. Often you’re only as creative as the least creative person in the process. Thousands of books are designed each year, some will have the same conceptual idea. To pick out the ones that look similar is truly grating. I believe I’ve read this story before.

    1. Maya

      “Often you’re only as creative as the least creative person in the process.” Are covers truly doomed to mediocrity? I would like to hear more about this, because it’s been plaguing young adult books. How much do final artwork choices have have to do with the time for turnaround, budget, etc.? I wish covers would move away from stock photos; I guess they are the cheapest option?

      While this is a topic that HAS been rehashed a lot, we get a lot of customers searching for books based on the jacket art — NOT the title, NOT the author. To say nothing of trendy covers (oh, those girls in ballgowns!) that belie what the story is about.

      1. Adrian Morgan

        Budgetary constraints are always in play unfortunately; stock art is the only option for most books. Commissioning art can be prohibitively expensive, especially when you’re dealing with multiple media formats. That’s not to say that stock art is intrinsically bad. It’s the choices one makes in research.

  4. Sir Me

    To be fair, the Sarah Selecky cover is actually from 2010, when it was first published in Canada by Thomas Allen. The cover of the new American edition is virtually unchanged from the original.

  5. Melissa

    There’s also an egg theme happening — Bumped/Thumped and there’s a new book with an egg on the cover…but I can’t remember the title.

    Then there’s this girl…I’ve spotted her on at least two covers. I’m sure she’ll be on more.

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