While browsing my online library catalogue, this book caught my eye:
It captured me not because of its great reviews but because I could have sworn it was in my TBR pile with a different name. I searched through the pile and found this:
Ah yes. Not quite the same book. Extremely similar cover, completely different book.
Apparently, this happens every now and then. Sometimes in a worse way:
Sheesh. They didn’t even change the kid’s clothes on that one. (Check out this Huffington Post article for more examples.)
(A word to designers here: if you’re buying usage rights to images that other people can buy usage rights for, maybe fiddle with the image a tad. By Gaslight is a wild re-envisioning in comparison with Long Drive Home.)
How do you feel when a new book comes out that has almost the same cover as your still-quite-recent book? Amused? Annoyed? Delighted? Honoured? (I’m thinking annoyed.)
But maybe a similar cover is an advantage, so long as the contents are good. Humans like the familiar, after all. And even a duplicate cover won’t lose a book any fans if the contents are awesome. Mockingbird and Long Drive Home are a perfect example of that. (Still, both were reprinted with new, not-as-good-but-at-least-unique covers:)
Todd Babiak’s Come Barbarians was published in 2013 with HarperCollins. Steven Price’s By Gaslight was published in 2016 by McClelland & Stewart. Both have had great reviews. And they’re both fine-looking books. By Gaslight was in fact voted a Best Cover of 2016 (annoying the Come Barbarians designer, I’m sure).
I confess that I bought Come Barbarians because of the cool cover. It’s that attractive. In both versions. I wouldn’t change it if I was either one of them.
In fact, I’m thinking the foggy green cobblestone street is good for at least one more novel. Change the coat to a cape and add a wizard in a window, and it would be perfect for a thrilling fantasy. Any takers?