The Guardian has managed to put together one of the world’s most ridiculously obvious articles ever regarding book covers.
Did you know that one of the reasons book covers might be different from country to country is that there are cultural differences? Shocking, I know! And sometimes book covers don’t represent the actual content of the book in explicit ways (stay with me): they just try to make you buy the product. Breathe deep: this is a lot to take in.
I think the real difference between getting their North American cover versus their foreign covers for an author is just timing and input. You see your US cover early and have a chance to call someone up and ask, “What in the hell?” Your foreign editions sometimes just show up already published. And while the question remains the same, it doesn’t make any difference.
But the one thing I really dig about the article is the gallery of side by side comparisons. I love the French cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo though was surprised to see the title translated to (high school French don’t fail me now) Men Who Don’t Like Women. I’m a little obsessed with the Chinese cover of Birdsong but wonder if that kind of subtlety really has a place in cover design.
One of the best chroniclers of their own foreign editions is Charlie Huston who has blogged about cover design on his website Pulp Noir. He even describes an edition as looking like “the poster for a hip-hop dance interpretation of a novel by S.E. Hinton.”