The Many Covers Of The 2013 Man Booker Nominees

Man_Booker_Logo_300x300I 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

The_Lowland_US

United States

The_Lowland_Airside

UK Airside Edition

The_Lowland_UK

UK

The_Lowland_IN

India


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

A_Tale_For_The_Time_Being_US

United States

A_Tale_For_The_Time_Being_UK_Special

UK Special Edition

A_Tale_For_The_Time_Being_AU

Australia

A_Tale_For_The_Time_Being_US_Audiobook

United States Audiobook

A_Tale_For_The_Time_Being_Spain

Spain

A_Tale_For_The_Time_Being_UK

UK


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

Almost_English_UKa

UK


One cover only for Almost English so far. Kinda boring, eh?


Tash Aw: Five Star Billionaire

Five_Star_Billonaire_UK

UK

Five_Star_Billonaire_US

United States


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

Harvest_UK

UK

Harvest_US

United States


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

The_Testament_Of_Mary_AU

Australia

The_Testament_Of_Mary_Spain

Spain

The_Testament_Of_Mary_Spain_Paperback

Spain Paperback

The_Testament_Of_Mary_UK

UK

The_Testament_Of_Mary_UK_Paperback

UK Paperback

The_Testament_Of_Mary_US

United States

The_Testament_Of_Mary_Broadway1

Broadway 1

The_Testament_Of_Mary_Broadway2

Broadway 2


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

The_Spinning_Heart_Sweden

Sweden

The_Spinning_Heart_Ireland

Ireland

The_Spinning_Heart_UK

UK


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_Kills_UK

UK

The_Kills_Sutler

UK Sutler

The_Kills_The_Massive

UK The Massive

The_Kills_The_Hit

UK The Hit

The_Kills_The_Kill1

UK The Kill 1

The_Kills_The_Kill2

UK The Kill 2


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

The_Luminaries_UK

UK

The_Luminaries_US

United States


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

The_Marrying_Of_Chani_Kaufman

UK


Nothing says Yiddish quite like neon.


Colum McCann – TransAtlantic

Transatlantic_DE

Germany

Transatlantic_UK

UK

Transatlantic_US

United States

Transatlantic_Large

United States Large Print


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

Unexploded_UK

UK


You know that she’s just waiting to go off. Watch out when she does!


NoViolet Bulawayo: We Need New Names

We_Need_New_Names_Dutch

Dutch

We_Need_New_Names_UK

UK

We_Need_New_Names_US

United States


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.

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5 comments

  1. I’d have to go for the UK editions of We Need No Names (vibrant) and The Luminaries (elegant), but altogether I think this is a bit of a poor show cover-wise. The Marrying of Chani Kaufman is the worst, the combination of neon pink and the word ‘Marrying’ makes it look like cheap chick lit… Although maybe that’s deliberate as they thought it would sell more?!

  2. I agree with your overall opinion of the covers, but I do like the “Bergman-esque” quality of “The Spinning Heart” (all covers) and it’s a really good title too. The UK version of “TransAtlantic” has a great frolicking fun air to it, but the Broadway 2 edition of “The Testament of Mary” is painfully disturbing.

  3. I really like the UK version of The Spinning Heart and have just finished reading it and like that it doesn’t reveal the entire fence, just as the spinning heart is somewhat ironic in the book.

    I also like Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries both covers are equally enticing, the UK version has the edge, a little more daring, intriguing and therefore inviting the reader to look within.

    Interesting the Toibin covers, I read an article that suggests use of text only is common when a strong name can sell books, suggesting people buy because they know the writer rather than selling the story or the subject, but I also noticed it is also often used with novels that pertain to have a connection to Mary or Jesus, not wishing to court controversy perhaps. The UK paperback version looks like a Joanne Harris book.

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