Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How covers evolve across the globe

When a box of translated JVNLA books arrive from Taiwan, Italy, Poland, the UK, etc, we're not always sure what we're about to open.  Sure, we know which books we've sold in which countries to which publishers, but we often don't know what the covers of the translated editions will look like.  And, boy, can those covers vary!  Some international publishers choose to use the US cover.  Others design their own covers to suit the tastes of their market.  The result is that each package of international editions is a new adventure.

Below is a look at how widely the covers can vary across the globe, using three books as examples: A DOUBLE LIFE, THE TUDOR SECRET, and ENOLA HOLMES: THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS.

The San Jose Mercury News called A DOUBLE LIFE by Lisa Catherine Harper a "wry, revealing memoir of motherhood."  The National Book Critics Circle named it one of the top 12 of the Best of the Small Presses and praised it for its "incredibly rich and enlightening" narrative.

The cover of the US edition, published by University of Nebraska Press, displays an expectant mother looking down on her expanding stomach, her legs lost beneath her. 

Meanwhile, the Taiwanese edition, published by Heliopolis Culture Group Co., Ltd., features a pregnant blonde woman, loosely covered in a blue bikini, as she walks across an idyllic-looking beach, lost in contemplation.

And, finally, the Italian edition, published by De Agostini, takes a more commercial approach.  The cover portrays a young woman in a colorful shirt, looking up at the book's title, perhaps pondering how "la doppia vita," or the doubled life of being both woman and mother, will pan out.  Notice how there is no bulging belly on this cover. 

C.W. Gortner's THE TUDOR SECRET tells the fictional tale of Brendan Prescott, a spymaster for Elizabeth I before she became Queen of England.  Publishers Weekly called the book "a riveting, fast-paced thriller" and The Historical Novel Society commended its ability to "captur[e] the very essence of Tudor glitz and glamour, and the depravity of it all as well."

Below is the cover of the US edition, published by St. Martin's Press, featuring a dashing male and female duo (Brendan and Elizabeth).  The cover could almost be a movie poster, with the burnt markings around the title lending it a sense of edginess. 

The Polish edition, published by Publicat, zooms in on Elizabeth, allowing the details of her regal apparel to take the attention.  But look carefully to the left of Elizabeth's face and you'll see someone hiding behind the curtains.

The Italians have taken a more symbolic approach with their edition, published by Casa Editrice Corbaccio.  A green-tinged copper doorknocker in the shape of a lion, set against a brown background, dominates the cover.

Probably the darkest cover is the UK edition's, published by Hodder and Stoughton.  The predominant grey and black color scheme lends the book a foreboding feel, as does the distant fog.  The cover is divided into three parts: a fog-enshrouded male figure, a gold ring, and the title in blood-red.

Nancy Springer's THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS is the first in Springer's ENOLA HOLMES series.  Enola has a knack for sleuthing just like her older brother, Sherlock Holmes, but she has an agenda all her own.  Booklist praised the series for possessing "just the right mix of nascent nineteenth-century feminist and awkward teen."  Other reviewers have raved about the "unique voice" (Publishers Weekly, starred review), "precise characterization, fast pacing, and keen observation" (Kirkus).  The series has garnered two Edgar Award nominations over time.

The first book was published by Penguin/Philomel in 2006 with the below cover, which depicts Enola in action, astride her bike.  The setting is dark and rather mysterious, given the brown, dark green, and maroon color scheme.  It is also clue-ridden: notice the letters twisted amongst the trees.

The Brazilian edition, published by Novo Seculo, maintains the same dark, mysterious feel as the US edition.  The predominant colors are dark brown and orange.  Enola is similarly featured front and center.

In the French edition, published by Nathan, Sherlock Holmes makes an appearance on the cover.  Enola, meanwhile, appears particularly sleuth-y, as she looks out of the corner of her eyes from behind a newspaper.  This cover has a rather elegant feel, with a floral pattern covering a little over half of the cover and the title embossed over top of the pattern.

The Israeli edition, published by Miskal, combines symbol with image.  A keyhole reveals Enola, looking a bit panicked, in the midst of her sleuthing.  Sherlock looms behind her. 

The Japanese edition, published by Shogakukan, is quite a departure from the other editions.  The colors are brighter, the characters are illustrated manga-style, and Enola is a blonde.  This Enola, in her slim-fitted dress and flowing hair, looks the most "girly" of all the editions...thus demonstrating that Enola can be girly as well as a bad-ass sleuth.

Last but not least, we have the newest US cover, published by Penguin/Puffin in 2011.  The black and red coloring, along with the filigreed designs, lend a very gothic feel to the book.  The other five books in the series have been re-released with the same gothic design, each in a different color, along with a new logo: "Outsmarting the world's greatest sleuth."  This cover uses even more clues than the original US edition did; the seven blue-circled items each portray a different one.


  1. I love seeing the way publishers in different countries choose to present these books. All of the covers are wonderful. I especially like the choices for The Case of the Missing Marquess. Thank you for sharing these, and please consider sharing more in the future.

    1. Thanks for reading! We think it's fascinating as well, and I hope to post more covers and their global variations in the near future!