If there is one thing that anyone who has taken a Marketing 101 class knows, it’s that target audience is everything. So is appearance. Let’s face it, are you more likely to pick up a plain-faced book with no color or creativity, or the shiny one with the sparkles and the pretty faces? Desire starts with our eyes, and an attractive cover can be the difference between walking past the bookshelf or pausing and picking it up. Like most things, beauty is influenced by where you live. In other words, culture dictates the book jacket.
So what goes into deciding these covers? Surveys? Focus groups? Actually, neither. Book jacket designers often start from scratch, building off their own personal tastes, taking elements from the original country’s cover and changing what they see fit. Most of the time, those changes are small. For example, let’s compare the covers for Twilight:
The American cover, on the left, has all white letters and muted colors, letting the red apple serve as the the focal point. It seems to highlight the “forbidden fruit,” hinting at Bella’s journey as she discovers Edward’s true identity and all the implications that emerge from “taking a bite.” Meanwhile, the Latin American cover on the bottom right, has the title in blood-red, horror movie font to emphasize the danger aspect. It even adds a subtitle! Un amor peligroso literally translates to “A dangerous love.” The apple also seems to have been dulled in comparison to the American cover, and the author’s name is written in a smaller, thinner font. It’s like the “scariness” of the story is all the cover wants you to focus on when really, it’s more sappy than anything. (But that’s a discussion for another day.)
Does changing the cover really matter? Maybe? I suppose the American cover is more attractive, if only because it’s simpler and doesn’t seem like it’s trying so hard. The Latin American cover looks…cheap? But maybe I’m just a book snob.
What’s your opinion on changing book covers?