Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Historical fiction paperback makeovers, part two

I always like examining and discussing historical novel cover art.  The following ten pairings include the hardcover jacket design and the corresponding cover redesign for the paperback (mostly from 2016, with a couple from 2015).  In most cases, the books are considered literary fiction, and the images reflect this: they're elegant, bold, dramatic, and original.  The paperbacks incorporate the novels' themes while conveying a more approachable feel, with the increased usage of human figures and readily identifiable tropes. Dictator, for instance, uses a look that implies "ancient-world historical adventure."  That's my impression, anyway.  What do you think of these makeovers?

Part 1 in this series, from August 2015, can be seen here.

Elizabeth, New Jersey, during one tragedy-filled season in the 1950s.

The Biblical story of King David, as seen from multiple viewpoints.

A female pugilist's story in Georgian Britain.

Third and final novel in the Cicero trilogy, set in ancient Rome.

The lives of wealthy expatriates Sara and Gerald Murphy on the French Riviera in the 1920s.

The lives in a family of mixed faith (Jewish-Christian) in Berlin during
the WWI years and Jazz Age. 

The fateful voyage of the Hindenburg in 1937, from the viewpoint of its passengers. 

The relationship between sisters Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell. 

 A multi-generational saga about a Jewish family, set along the Connecticut
shoreline in the 1940s.

The story of Loretta Young and Clark Gable during Hollywood's Golden Age.


  1. I agree with you that book cover art is fascinating, and its link with marketing. Kind of like Christmas cards - we received many more Santa Claus cards this year and not as many snowy landscapes. I'd read most of your pictured books with either cover! Thanks for the post and Happy New Year!

    1. That's interesting that there's a trend in Christmas cards as well - I'll have to look over the ones I received.

      In most cases, I like both of the covers also. For The Secret Chord, I strongly prefer the hardcover design, though.

      Hope you have a great New Year too!

  2. Interesting analysis. For me, the Judy Blume HB is infinitely better: evokes the right '50s feel, whereas the PB update feels almost like nonfiction to me. It's an obvious model shot done recently. Breaks the spell. Also agree about Secret Chord.

    1. I agree with you, Harald. I like the design and especially the font on the Judy Blume hardcover. To me the paperback looks like your standard women's fiction novel. It's one I meant to read when it came out, but I haven't yet.

  3. Anonymous4:50 PM

    Enjoyed seeing a view of both covers. They say don't judge a book by its cover, however I do and I believe the cover sells the book.

    1. Covers do definitely sell books. The book description is the main deciding factor for me, but I've been persuaded to give a book a try if it has an enticing cover.