International dystopian Covers

A couple of weeks ago, Lenore mentioned colors of dystopian books in her post. That got me thinking. Do countries approach dystopian covers differently? I live in Germany so I'm familiar with German covers and very few of them are the US covers.

I spent the morning searching the internet for covers and it was fascinating to see how different countries interpret the same book.

Lets start with my own book The Other Life for example:
German/UK/US

Next covers: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Swedish/French/German/US

Next covers: Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Serbian/German/US/UK
And last but not least: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
German/Arabic/US
Italian/Dutch/Danish
Thai/Russian/Romanian

Maybe I'm wrong but it seems that foreign covers are often much darker than the US original. Except for the German covers.

I really like the Swedish SHATTER ME cover. It's dark and forlorn. I'm not so sure about the Romanian HUNGER GAMES cover though. It's a bit strange...

Do you have a favorite foreign cover? A cover you hate? Do you always prefer the US cover?


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5 comments:

Jaime Morrow said...

I have to say, in almost every instance that you showed, I prefer the American covers. Especially the cover on your book. I think the butterfly is fantastic!

Also, isn't it a little weird that for the German cover of Shatter Me they basically used Leigh Fallon's Carrier of the Mark cover? So weird.

Jaime Morrow said...

Correction: I think it was the UK cover of your book that has the butterfly. If so, that one's my fave.

Susanne Winnacker said...

Jaime, yes it's the UK cover with the butterfly and I immediately fell in love with it!

I notice that foreign pubs sometimes use covers of other books for their version. I guess most people never notice.

atsiko said...

I thought the US covers for the first two books were kind of lame. Certainly not something that would stand out to me on the shelf. Not sure if it's because I'm a guy? The German cover on the first books seems like it's from a different genre than the other two. The UK cover on the first book was my favorite for that book.

For the second book, the Swedish, French, and German covers all rocked. I would pick up any version of that one off the shelf. I can see the idea behind the US cover, but it seemed boring and maybe a bit like a TV novelisation. Plus the blue dress in the German cover kicks the white US dress's ass. Just the tone of the US cover doesn't match the other covers--or the title--at all in my mind.

The German cover of the third set was my least favorite. It's not bad, I just like the other ones better. It's my experience that UK covers in general tend to be more artsy (in a good way) than American covers in YA, which have a lot more live models and photographic covers. I"m not a huge fan of photographic covers, so maybe I'm biased against US covers. The font in the German cover in the third set is too fancy for me. The Serbian and UK covers are san-serif, which I think fits the apparent theme and tone better. All but the German title font are more blocky, with square or rounded corners, which just looks better to my eye. The German and US covers are a bit washed out, but because of the black-white-red color palette in the US cover, the wash-out actually works kind of well. The color gradient in the German cover doesn't have quite the right tone.

I'm posting separately about the Hunger Games covers, since there are so many. I hope you don't mind.

atsiko said...

The US cover for The Hunger Games is by far the best, both from a tone perspective and in terms of marketing. The simple but elegant logo is great for merchandising. I've seen tons of HG t-shirts in the US, and they look awesome. Also, all three covers in that edition have it, so it hangs together very well. I haven't seen the covers for the other novels in the editions pictured here. Also, the color scheme is very simple, and creates a strong futuristic-government feeling.

The German, Italian, and Dutch covers are all very similar, and I dislike them all for the same reasons. First, they don't do a very good job of conveying what the book is about. The US cover at least creates a sense of mystery. Second, the face peeking out of some sort of cover is fairly cliche. The color scheme on all of them is at least of professional quality, but they're all too mono-color for me. The Dutch cover has the really annoying text box feel to it, which I don't like. I much prefer the text to be in a transparent layer, and it's pretty common practice in graphic design.

The Italian and Danish covers are both too dark. I like the font on the Italian cover, but it doesn't make up for the mono-chrome background.

The Romanian cover is very comic booky, to me. The "JF" logo is positioned like a protagonist logo, but it's clearly a logo employed by Panem's government.

One thing I like about the German and Danish covers is that the model looks like she could actually be the character, but it doesn't make up for the rest of the cons.

The Arabic cover is a neat idea, but the picture is too dark and there's not nearly enough contrast. It took me quite awhile to realize there was a person in the picture, for example.

The Russian cover isn't terrible, but it focuses too much on standard, bland teen models. It looks like a stock photo. I could put that picture on 90% of YA books and it wouldn't conflict with the actual book, but it doesn't really contribute to the character/feel of The Hunger Games (or any other book, really). I also dislike the color scheme. The light blue on black reminds me of dystopia, like Gather Blue, for example, but as far as teenage gladiators/Survivor, it's no good.

Finally, I love the Thai cover. I don't know so much about the outline font, and the pixelation is a bit too pure sci-fi, but the rust on turquoise and the fence is very dystopic. It's also sparse and clean, something the US cover also had going for it.

As a disclaimer, while I'm fairly familiar with US and UK cover art trends, I haven't even seen a lot of non-English covers, much less looked at trends among them. From a cultural standpoint, perhaps these covers do sell well in their native countries.