Cover Affairs: The Winner’s Kiss Cover Change

Hi fellow bookworms!

If you’ve been on bookish Twitter over the past few weeks, you might be aware of the discussion that’s been going on about the cover of Marie Rutkoski’s upcoming book The Winner’s KissA few weeks ago, Fierce Reads revealed the cover of this third — and final — book in Rutkoski’s much adored The Winner’s Trilogy. The cover featured a fierce, mother-of-dragons-esque woman. As a cover itself, it’s quite beautiful (and kind of reminds me of Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series‘ covers). However, fans were quite outspoken about how this cover doesn’t match the series’ first two covers, which feature a woman in a beautiful, luxurious gown. Many took to Twitter to voice their opinions: some were outraged, disappointed, sad, even going as far as tagging Rutkoski with their fury; others were very supportive, stating that it’s what’s between the covers that should matter the most. I suppose some outcry was to be expected (rarely do we like change – just think about what happened when Twitter changed from stars to hearts), but I didn’t really think a cover redesign merited this kind of response. Then again, as much as I love judging books by their covers, I’ve never been one to need to have matching sets. But as someone who’s fascinated by all things publishing, this array of emotion was very interesting to me.

In my Introduction to Trade Publishing course, one of the first things we learned was that publishing is the marriage of art and commerce. As Rutkoski mentions in her tweet above, publishers are actually the ones who, most of the time, have final say on cover direction. And that makes sense: they have had years and years of experience selling books to readers and are informed of industry trends. (However, that’s not to say that creating a cover is ever easy business — in-house cover discussions can be just as lively.) In this case, it seems as though the publisher wanted to spread the book love to new audiences by creating a cover that appealed a different demographic. This is where things get complicated: how does one satisfy an existing fan base while trying to reach new readers?

A cover re-reveal! What?

Leave it to the publisher to figure out a best-of-both-worlds solution: the hardcover edition of The Winner’s Kiss will now have a woman in a lush gown, while the paperback editions will be redesigned to match the originally revealed cover. A true win-win situation.

This whole event is worth thinking about on so many levels. First, the cover redesign, in which we’re all reminded that books need an audience, and that that sometimes means a new strategy, a new direction. Publishing is a business, after all. Then, there’s the discussion of having matching covers. To be honest, before becoming actively engaged on the “book-ternet,” I had no idea that so many people were so passionate about having matching covers. Finally, the cover re-reveal. It shows that publishers do think about their readers, and it shows that readers can create change. What a doozy! In the end, I’m happy that things turned out well for everyone. Fierce Reads has managed to satisfy the series’ loyal fan base while also giving the books a second life (and said loyal fan base a reason to purchase the paperbacks as well). It’ll be hard to say whether this will serve as a case study for publishers who are thinking of redesigning their covers mid-series or not, but for this bookworm and blogger, it was mighty engrossing.

Have you been following this news story? Are you happy with the outcome? Do you prefer your books in a series to match?

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9 thoughts on “Cover Affairs: The Winner’s Kiss Cover Change

  1. majoringinliterature says:

    This is a great analysis of the whole situation! I do think we need to be more aware of just how much control authors have over things like cover designs.

    Personally, I almost like the change from a cover which focuses on the luscious dress the girl is wearing to one which shows her in a more active setting. The only thing that bugs me a bit is that the cover seems to be a little too similar to the Throne of Glass series. But then again, YA covers tend to borrow elements from each other quite frequently. At the end of the day, as you mentioned, the people who argued that what’s between the covers is important made a great point. I’m still going to read the third book no matter the cover! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Thank you!

      I have to say, I kind of love the luscious dress. I haven’t read any of these books though, so I can’t say which one is “better” when it comes to matching the content. And yes, covers in general definitely borrow elements from each other. I remember when Twilight was massive — we suddenly started seeing dark covers with a single piece of fruit on it or hands holding something on covers. It’s so interesting! Hope you enjoy the book! 🙂

      • majoringinliterature says:

        We definitely felt the effects of Twilight for many years after the books were released! I love the dresses in the original covers too – purely aesthetically, I think I’d actually prefer the originals to the redesigns, but then the ideological issues that the cover designs bring out can be so interesting. 🙂

  2. joyousreads says:

    I’ve not been following this story. I did hear a lot of griping from fans of this series, though. In some sense I can see the outrage. Book collectors tend to be stubborn when it comes to series so for the publishers to change the covers can be a cause for bedlam. I do think the original covers are better, though I’m not a fan enough to voice my outcry.

    • Karen says:

      I’m so non-confrontational that I don’t think I would ever voice my outcry unless it was something that REALLY bothered me, but, like you said, I get why that was the case with some. I’m glad everything worked out!

  3. DoingDewey says:

    I really love the resolution of this question and think more publishers should do something similar. I’m someone who likes my books to match, so changing covers for the third book in a trilogy strikes me as a gimmicky way to make more money. You can always to the paperback and hardcover differently if you just want to appeal to different demographics. I could certainly see wanting to do that, since I love the new cover and I think the whole girl-in-ball-gown cover craze is passing.

    • Karen says:

      You’re definitely on to something about the girl-in-ballgown craze winding down. I didn’t even think of it that way, to be honest, but now it makes sense: the publisher might have seen a shifting trend in readers wanting to see their heroines in action instead of in a dress and so decided to change the cover to reflect that. In the end, I think they definitely made the right call/compromise.

  4. Becca and Books says:

    when you think about it, the cover change created all this bookworm outrage—which is actually FANTASTIC publicity for the series! well done publishers, haha. though I really prefer the old covers as they are prettier in my opinion and certainly fit the series better, I definitely agree it’s what’s beyond the cover that counts
    this post was great 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Haha you’re so right! It definitely worked from a publicity standpoint. (I don’t follow the series but I’m totally writing about it!) Thank you 🙂

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