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Old 7th Aug 2009, 11:50   #31
John Self
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Default Re: Bookalikes

Good exampls, David - have you visited Caustic Cover Critic? He does a lot of this sort of thing.

As to the Petra Borner, I take your point - it's simply because the illustrator has such a distinctive style that I think it becomes risky for the publishers of the second book to appear. Because Mr Pip was so popular, people seeing The Hakawati are bound to think of it (though that may of course be a good thing for its sales).

Another example is Kai & Sunny, whose Cloud Atlas cover stood out so well that they rejacketed all David Mitchell's other books, and then moved on to stuff like James Robertson's The Testament of Gideon Mack (hardcover). I think that when a single book or author becomes strongly associated with a particular cover designer, it does become more difficult for that designer to do other book covers successfully (ie to make browsers think this is a really good original cover, rather than "looks a bit like one of David Mitchell's. Again, that second response may well be the publisher's intention). Though you might be in a better position to comment on that from the 'inside', David...
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Old 7th Aug 2009, 12:50   #32
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Default Re: Bookalikes

Having followed your link to the Caustic Cover Critic blog, John Self, I got instantly stuck on today's post, and have now educated myself to the dangers of drinking and smoking drugs thanks to the excellent Latawnya, the Naughty Horse, Learns to Say "No" to Drugs.


...which includes the truly magical following paragraph:

Quote:
Connie started smoking drugs and drinking, and Connie's sisters started smoking drugs and drinking; so when Latawnya, the naughty horse, saw Connie smoking drugs and drinking, Latawnya started smoking drugs and drinking too.
Can you believe no major publishers picked this up? The poor old Gibsons had to put it out there themselves.
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Old 7th Aug 2009, 13:48   #33
John Self
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Default Re: Bookalikes

Hey, no fair! I clicked on your Flickr link and accidentally read the last page first. So now I know what happens.

It turns out that Latawnya, the Naughty Horse, learns to say "No" to drugs.
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Old 7th Aug 2009, 18:23   #34
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Default Re: Bookalikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self View Post
I think that when a single book or author becomes strongly associated with a particular cover designer, it does become more difficult for that designer to do other book covers successfully (ie to make browsers think this is a really good original cover, rather than "looks a bit like one of David Mitchell's. Again, that second response may well be the publisher's intention). Though you might be in a better position to comment on that from the 'inside', David...
I don't think it's a problem that would affect good designers - people like Jonathan Gray ( aka grey318 ), Chip Kidd, Peter Mendelsund etc. do all sorts of covers in a variety of styles. Each of them has their own distinct aesthetic but they apply it in different ways to suit different books and thus it never becomes an issue - I don't think your average book buyer would even notice when two book covers are by the same designer to be honest. I think where it does become an issue is with illustration where (although some illustrators work in a couple of styles) you can't help but have a certain look to all your work - indeed, it's that unique look that gets you work. As you say, when an illustrator becomes particularly connected with one book or author that can be a problem. The obvious example that springs to mind is Jeff Fisher, whose covers for Louis de Bernieres and also for the Bloomsbury Classics series were so iconic and inspired so many imitators that he largely disappeared (from book covers at least) for the best part of the following decade.

A successful book can be a bit of a double-edged sword in that way for the illustrator - on the one hand you'd love to do one for the recognition that comes with it and the (brief) increase in the amount of work you'd get as publishers wanted to try and cash in on the success of the first book, but I should think it could be a curse too. I think the ideal would be someone like Chris Corr, whose work is instantly recognisable and who does tons of covers but, because he's never been connected with a huge bestseller, his work doesn't get linked to one particular author or book and thus he remains perennially popular.

Most of my work is for children's novels where it's perhaps not such a big issue (unlike with adult books your audience is somewhat transient: they grow up and move on to other kinds of books), but art directors do indeed often choose me because of another cover I've done for a book with similar themes aimed at the same readership. My brief forays into adult fiction have been so far apart that stylistically the covers don't bear a great deal of resemblance, and the authors have all been fairly different anyway so I wouldn't imagine someone browsing the shelves in Waterstone's would make any connections.

You're right though, publishers do intentionally set out to make one cover look like another (already successful) one in order to get those connections going in a prospective reader's mind, regardless of whether they're using the same designer or illustrator or not. That example you gave of the two Faber covers is obviously very deliberate whereas most of the covers in this thread won't have been - they're mainly coincidences where two designers have both chosen to use the same stock photograph, probably completely unaware of its previous usages. However, earlier this year I did a cover illustration where the brief basically consisted of a picture of the (hardback) cover of Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger (I think that was a grey318 cover if memory serves) and the comment "we want something that looks like this". If that's not an attempt to cash in on another book's success I don't know what is. Anyway, the novel in question got published without anyone taking much notice of it (I think I saw one review of it in the press) so it's not an approach that always works!
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Old 7th Aug 2009, 20:22   #35
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Default Re: Bookalikes

Is there a prize awarded for the worst self-published book of the year?

Googling "worst self-published book of the year" brings up no results, but without quotes a thread on Palimpsest is the top hit. What would such a prize be called I wonder?
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Old 7th Aug 2009, 22:11   #36
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Default Re: Bookalikes

I suppose we could set one up couldn't we? There wouldn't be any prize money to pay, nobody would want to collect the trophy. And even if they did, a plastic turd covered in fake gold leaf wouldn't cost much would it? It could be named after a dead crap author so litigation wouldn't be an issue. And (legal advice required) if the public vote something crap, it's crap innit?

The Gilded Turd Award?
The Tilded Gurd Award might allow it past Net Nanny etc., so children could vote?
The Taylor Twinkly Turd (might have to wait a while)
The Razzy Reiily Ringbuster (ditto)
The Write Right / Fight Wright Prize (two crap authors slug it out for the golden log at a spangly evening black tie do?)

Worth thinking about eh?
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Old 7th Aug 2009, 23:01   #37
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Default Re: Bookalikes

Thanks for the detailed response, David. Yes, I suppose I was really talking about illustrators: gray318 is terrific, but not predictable, and I'm a big fan of Coralie Bickford-Smith's work for Penguin too.
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Old 20th Aug 2009, 10:07   #38
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How much harm does a bad book cover do? | Books | guardian.co.uk

One of these is not like the other.

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Old 20th Aug 2009, 10:15   #39
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Default Re: Bookalikes

I think this representation of WH for the Twilight fans is fine. I have come across at least two teens picking up this copy because of the connection (and the cover?), and I pointed a clueless dad plus teen daughters in the direction of this copy when they were hunting for WH in one bookshop. My daughter read WH about four years ago and prefers her classics to be in "exactly the same cover and version" as mine, so I hunt out second-hand copies for her own shelves.
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Old 26th Aug 2009, 15:30   #40
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Default Re: Bookalikes

I've just spotted these two incredibly similar covers:

I'll Go To Bed at Noon by Gerard Woodward

You Don't Have to be Good by Sabrina Broadbent

Sorry, can't seem to get pictures to work.
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