I know, I know, never judge a book by its cover, right? But how can you help it? Like it or not, we’re all highly visual beings and cover art can make or break a book when it comes to sales.
Below I’ve complied all the different covers that have been released across the globe for each of the 13 Booker nominees. Let’s play a little game. Comment below and tell us, based on looks alone, who would get the Booker for best cover design?
Jhumpa Lahiri: The Lowland
I’m not exactly sure what an “Airside” edition actually is. Do any of my friends in the UK that might be reading want to clue me in? My best guess is that it’s a version of the book that is only sold in airports. I could be totally wrong. Judging by these four covers, my vote goes to India.
Ruth Ozeki: A Tale For The Time Being
The title of the Spanish edition roughly translates to “The Effect Of A Butterfly Flapping In Japan.” The UK Special edition comes in a slipcover case and the sticker on the front can be peeled back to reveal the picture that’s behind the UK cover. Of all the Time Being covers, the UK seems the least inspired to me, while the US one is drop dead gorgeous. Jim Tierney who designed the US cover wrote an amazing blog post about its creation, complete with pictures from the design process that you can read here. If you’ve ever wondered just how a book cover gets designed then I highly recommend that you check it out.
Charlotte Mendelson: Almost English
One cover only for Almost English so far. Kinda boring, eh?
Tash Aw: Five Star Billionaire
Neither of these covers feel that inspired to me. The appearance of five stars on both covers is a huge misstep and little too literal an interpretation for my tastes.
Jim Crace: Harvest
The UK cover looks like someone puked up a whole heaping helping of wheat. In my eyes, the US cover is a bit more elegant.
Colm Tóibín: The Testament of Mary
I’m kind of cheating here by including the posters from the Broadway adaptation of the novel, but look who’s playing Mary! That’s totally Marnie from True Blood! There’s a lot of different styles to choose from here, but I think that I like the look of the Spanish paperback the best.
Donal Ryan: The Spinning Heart
These covers all feel very similar to me. I’m guessing this book is about fences? I like the Irish cover the best. Why? Because it’s not afraid to expose us to the naked beauty of its entire fence.
Richard House: The Kills
The UK covers for The Kills and the four novels that comprise it which are all available separately as well. I’m not sure why book three, The Kill, gets two different covers. For a project that is so ambitious in nature, none of these covers seem to really stand out. The cover for the all inclusive volume is particularly horrendous.
Eleanor Catton: The Luminaries
With the UK cover, you get the feeling that she could be hot. With the US cover, you get confirmation. I think Little Brown probably looked at the UK cover and said “WE NEED MORE PEEPHOLES IF THIS THING IS EVER GOING TO SELL IN THE US!”
Eve Harris: The Marrying Of Chani Kaufman
Nothing says Yiddish quite like neon.
Colum McCann – TransAtlantic
The German cover is bad, but the UK and US covers are both really nice. What’s the deal with the Large Print version though? Isn’t it kind of insulting? It’s sort of screams that the older folks can’t tell what an airplane looks like from a distance, no?
Alice Macleod: Unexploded
You know that she’s just waiting to go off. Watch out when she does!
NoViolet Bulawayo: We Need New Names
None of these covers really reveal much about what the book could be about. I think the US one is the most visually pleasing.
So, if the Booker was decided purely by a battle of cover art who would your winner be? As much as it pains me to have to type this, on looks only, I’m going with the US edition of Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale For The Time Being.