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 Kiss. A 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?