Kernels of Nonsense: Cover Redesign

Kernels of Nonsense (2)Kernels of Nonsense is a bimonthly discussion feature where I discuss various book related topics. I originally had another post planned, but then Friday happened.

Cover redesigning seems like a great idea on the surface. If you’re a publisher. And you’re looking to sell more books. So you think changing the covers might appeal to a wider audience. But if you’re a reader and especially if you’re the kind of reader that takes pride in their book collection, book redesigns can be a nightmare.

Way back when Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unspoken came out, this was the cover. And if you’re familiar with this amazing series, you’d agree that this cover’s whimsical feel does fit the strange atmosphere of the little town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Personally, I love covers that are more akin to illustrations than ones which feature real people (especially when those models do not resemble the characters in the book at all). This happens to be one of my favorite covers ever.

Then the publisher decided it was a good idea to change the covers. I don’t know all the details surrounding this change, so perhaps the artist did not want to do the next two covers, but I do know that when I saw the second book’s cover, I was really disappointed. This new design lacked the kind of personality the story deserved. I would never reach for this book on the shelf to find out more. It’s boring, unoriginal, and tells me nothing about the book. I’ve had issues with covers before and this is probably the one that’s upset me the most, that is until now…

So you’re probably wondering why I suddenly changed my topic for this week’s discussion post and that’s because one of my beloved book series is getting a makeover. Just when the last book is about to be released. And I am not happy about it. The first two book covers (two incredibly beautiful perfect covers) look like this…

…and will now be accompanied by a third cover that looks like this…

When I first saw this, I was upset. If you don’t own the first two books, I can’t properly explain to you how beautiful they are. And so, for aesthetic reasons, I really wanted this last book to feature the protagonist in a similar pose and attire. I’m the kind of bookworm who wants my books to match. I don’t like it when I own one book in a series in paperback and the other two in hardcover (I’m working on accepting this), so something like this is a little upsetting.

And for my own peace of mind, even though this cover doesn’t make the most sense when it comes to the series’ main character, Kestrel, I wanted to believe that the circumstances that occurred at the end of the second book and what happens in the third might explain this stark difference between the first covers and this last one.

But then I had a look at the other two books’ redesign…

Oh, no. No, no, no, no. This is awful. Are these covers beautiful in their own way? Sure. Do these covers show an awesome female warrior you might be interested in reading? Absolutely. Do these covers represent who we know Kestrel to be? Not at all. If you’re familiar with this series, you would know that even though Kestrel has grown up in a society that celebrates war and takes pride in physical strength and skills, she is not a fighter. At least, she isn’t in the traditional sense. For much of the series Kestrel is stuck in an impossible situation and she uses her head to get out of it (or more into it). She has to rely on her mental strengths because she isn’t a warrior, she can’t best anyone in a physical fight. And these covers feel more deceptive, the more you understand about her character.

And then the tweet came. This is probably more upsetting than any cover redesign. After everyone was led to believe that the cover for the last book in this trilogy would be this one, we are now learning that even the hardcover will not retain the original design.

When a blogger asked if the hardcover would still be this one which was revealed not too long ago, @FierceReads had this to say: “The red dress is not happening, we wanted Kestrel to look as bad*** as she is so we thought a redesign was in order!” Everyone was in an uproar. Was this person implying that being in a pretty dress did not equal “bad***”, that in order to be “bad***”, you have to be able to wield a sword? What kind of message is this sending?

But maybe I’m pointing the finger at the wrong person. Another author on Twitter who followed what happened reminded readers that sometimes it’s book store chains that call for cover redesigns because they believe these books won’t sell as well with the old design. This does nothing to make me less angry over the redesigning or the tweet, but it does want me to give the publisher perhaps the benefit of the doubt. I also don’t believe in judging someone solely on one tweet. Haven’t we all had moments where we wish we could take back something we’ve said, either because we didn’t mean it or we didn’t think it fully through?

But this situation does give one pause, making you realize (once again) that society has such a limited perception of what a strong woman should look like. Traditional feminine qualities are still thought of as weak and it is only when a woman embraces traditional male qualities that she can be called strong.

I’m just hoping (and maybe begging) for the publisher to reconsider this change. Not necessarily entirely, but perhaps those readers who prefer the red dress cover can have a chance to purchase this edition of the book instead.

How do you feel about cover redesigns? How do you think publishers should handle them? Are you a fellow Winner’s Trilogy fan who’s in an uproar? Share your thoughts in the comments and let’s discuss!

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40 thoughts on “Kernels of Nonsense: Cover Redesign

  1. I actually like the new covers of book 2 and 3 in the Unspoken series, but I HATE the redesign of the first one – I don’t even think it matches the next two. And I love the original covers of the Winner’s Curse series and those new ones are just awful. One of them looks kind of like one of those Throne of Glass covers, maybe that’s what they’re going for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The last two for the Lynburn Legacy don’t seem to match the first book’s redesign at all. It’s difficult when all we’re asking for is a little consistency and they can’t even get that right. Someone did a compare/contrast of the new covers with the Throne of Glass ones and they are eerily similar. I know that’s exactly what they’ve going for.

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  2. I agree with you when it comes to these – I haven’t read the series yet, but at least have each cover tonally match. One redesign that really got on my nerves was Holly Black’s Curse Workers series – the first two original covers were awesome and then the third looked entirely different – like it came straight out of a 70s ad. Then they had to go and redesign the first two to match the crappy third cover. I also didn’t care for the Across the Universe redesign – I liked both the hardback and the paperback release of the first book and second, but then they went and gave the entire three books boring redesign.

    However, I really like what they’ve done with the newer Forgotten Realms books – especially the update to the Drizzt Do’Urden series. The old ones looked like the cover designer never even picked up the book before they started drawing, but that’s not the case with the new editions.

    Also some of the 1980s and 1990s teen books have been decently refreshed – like these.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely get redesigning covers, especially if you’re looking for new readers, but to do it in the middle of a series seems really underhanded to me. Why not wait? What is there to gain from doing this? I just looked up the Across the Universe redesign and it definitely is not as pretty as the original. It actually reminds me of Under the Never Sky hardcover.

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    • Haha, I’m known for my chill. When I first started writing this post, I was so upset, but once I started putting down my thoughts, I calmed down enough to the point where I’m not quite as angry before. I’m at the point right now that I’m just hoping (desperately) for the publishers to hear us and do something about our unhappiness. Taking a look at your post now!

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  3. I think the same thing just happened with the paperback editions of The Raven Boys Cycle too. I have the first two in paperback, but when I ordered the third, which just came out in paperback, it doesn’t match the other two at all. It has the same design that the hardcover has, which is certainly prettier, but it doesn’t match and it’s driving me crazy. The book itself isn’t even the same height on the shelf as the other two! I got really mad about that a few weeks ago, and then with this one I just can’t. It feels like publishers are just trying to weasel more money out of us, thinking we’ll go back and buy the new version of the earlier books so they’ll match, but I’m more likely to just not buy any more of the books at all. It’s one thing to do a redesign years later once all the books have been out for awhile, but it’s just annoying to do that in the middle of releasing a series. I never thought the girly, pretty covers represented the Winner’s Curse + Crime very well, but the new ones are even further in left field.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t seen the TRC paperback covers for the first two, so I’m not sure how well they match, but I do remember having to warm up the BLLB’s cover because it did seem different from the first two. The height difference would drive me crazy! It does feel like the publishers are more interested in making more money than keeping those of us who are loyal readers happy. I actually disagree, I think the first two do represent the series well, knowing Kestrel is not a warrior, and her tentative grip on a weapon represent how hesitant she is to take up arms.

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  4. Omg you basically took the words right out of my mouth. I’m still really angry about the cover change for The Winner’s Kiss. I don’t even think they’re good covers regardless of the book’s content. They just have really generic covers and it feels like they’re trying to copy the Throne of Glass covers. They’re trying to reach more people but really I don’t understand how they can do that because a lot of people hate covers with people on it so I don’t know how it can reach a bigger audience.. I mean the original covers had a person on it but at least the stance was less cheesy and at least the background and typography really worked well with it. Ugh.
    The worst part is I was planning on preordering this book too but I know I don’t know if I want to because I was so set on seeing that original cover -_-

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  5. I love your thoughts, especially about giving the benefit of the doubt. The reason why I mostly dislike the redesigns is because they seem to resemble the throne of glass series. But, like you said, Kestrel is a different type of fighter. She can’t really win in hand-to-hand combat fight, but instead she uses her mind and I think that is what the original covers portrayed.

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    • Agreed, and why can’t we just appreciate these two wonderful characters for being strong in different ways? Why must a strong female characters be so limited? That doesn’t give much hope to most of us, who can’t wield a sword or shoot a bow and arrow. One of the reasons I want to give them the benefit of the doubt is because I think they should address what was said. If I just condemn them, what’s the point in listening to them?

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  6. I like both covers for all the books. But I understand that its really frustrating having a mixmatch of books in one series. In my book shelf I have a lot of series that are not consistent and its bugs me.

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  7. The new covers for the Winner’s Trilogy seem so generic. They don’t feel like Kestral at all! I am really upset with this cover redesign. It almost makes me happy that I didn’t preorder the Winner’s Kiss yet because I can’t stand that new cover. They should have at least waited until after The Winner’s Kiss was released before redesigning all of the beauties at once.
    Thanks for sharing your view.
    Amanda

    Liked by 1 person

    • They really don’t scream Kestrel at all! I wish they had waited until after this final book’s release too. I don’t understand who thought it was a good idea to do it now, especially when they had already unveiled the red-dress cover. Thanks for sharing your thoughts as well, Amanda.

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  8. I love this discussion about The Winner’s Trilogy covers! I didn’t even know that the red dress cover would be unavailable until I read this. I’d been wondering about that, so thanks for the info! It’s so upsetting, though. I love the dress covers and I definitely agree that the change says something about the concept of feminine strength and society’s expectations of what that should look like. And, I agree that the new designs are trying to paint Kestrel as someone she’s not. I mentioned in a recent tweet that these new covers feel like they’re trying to be Throne of Glass. Kestrel is not Celaena, and that’s who the girl on the cover reminds me of. And, of course there’s the issue that for people with the previous editions, their sets won’t match anymore. The whole ordeal is frustrating. *eye roll*

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s really disappointing. It would be a whole lot easier to swallow if they had released the last book with the red dress cover. I think I might have liked that tweet you mentioned, I can’t be sure but that seems to be the consensus everywhere. I’m so frustrated and now I don’t know what to do. If you look at the one of the comment threads above yours, I’ve been discussing the option with another blogger to buy the UK edition of the last book instead. It’s paperback but it will feature the dress cover (the only difference is it’s green rather than red). I might just go this route, but, oh, I wish I didn’t have to!

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  9. “Traditional feminine qualities are still thought of as weak and it is only when a woman embraces traditional male qualities that she can be called strong.”

    If only Jane Austen were still around to remind and inspire women (like me) who wear “frivolous” dresses and skirts to stay true to what is important (oneself) despite the sexist misconceptions and the trivial social status quo.

    I love everything you shared here Alicia 🙂 I’m so glad I’m not part of the Winner’s Triology fandom or else I might be in an uproar myself. I’m especially jealous and particular about all my favorite book covers 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Claudia! Jane Austen is a fine example of a writer whose heroines are thought of as strong but who still retain feminine qualities. I feel like we’ve boxed ourselves in when we create “strong” female characters that can only be a certain way, usually an sign of vulnerability cancels out any strength. Ugh.

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  10. More often than not, I buy kindle books, but if I do by paper or hard backs, I definitely want a series to match! The series that manage to have beautiful covers that match just make my bookshelves more gorgeous and like a work of art! I have recently bought two series in either hard or paper-back, but it was after the whole series was out, to make sure all my books would go together.
    I don’t understand why something that obviously worked (aren’t those Winner’s books big hits?) have to be changed until they become something those fans can’t even recognize. Have they never heard of the saying ‘don’t change it if it ain’t broken’?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we’re bookworms, we take pride in our books! As far as I know, the Winner’s Trilogy is really popular and I don’t know what could have happened between them revealing this last cover and now when they thought they needed to redesign the covers. It’s definitely not broken.

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  11. I’m so unhappy with the decision to change these covers. It’s even worse that the publishers won’t be releasing the original cover for The Winner’s Kiss. I love the hardcovers, but now I’m frustrated because they won’t have the same quality. Not only that, but I hadn’t even thought about the fact that they are trying to make Kestrel into something she’s not. Kestrel is badass, but not the sword wielding sort. She’s got strong qualities and she is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’m so disappointed with this decision. You brought up a lot of great points. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel your pain, why couldn’t they have at least waiting for this final release? It’s so disappointing to see them misrepresent such a great character and series. It’s just so frustrating to see that publishers don’t believe that a girl who is intelligent is enough, that they have to manipulate potential readers into picking up the book.

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