It’s always interesting to compare U.S. and U.K. book cover designs. Usually, I like U.S. book covers better, which is no surprise since they are designed to appeal to American readers. Still, there are times when a U.K. book cover blows the U.S. version out of the water.
Here are some U.S. book covers juxtaposed with their U.K. counterparts.
Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King
I’m starting with this because I happen to be reading it right now. Here is the U.S. cover:
I like this cover and thought it was pretty cool…until I saw the U.K version.
This isn’t a book cover; it’s a work of art. Like I said, I usually prefer U.S. cover designs but this is one very notable exception.
It by Stephen King
While we’re on the Stephen King train, here are the U.S and U.K. versions of It. I think the U.S. version is completely genius but the U.K. version leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t really evoke any of the themes of the book and looks more like the cover of a murder mystery than a horror novel.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I have a thing about faces on book covers. Most of the time, I think putting the face of a main character on the cover is a bad idea. It’s better to let readers form our own mental image of what the character looks like. There are times though when it works. In this case, I think the U.K. cover is waaay better than the U.S. version, which looks like the designer googled for clipart and picked the first thing she found. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad but it’s not great either.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
While we’re on the subject of faces on book covers, we need to talk about A Little Life. As someone who has not read the book, the U.S. cover perplexes me. Is the man on the cover having an orgasm? In emotional turmoil? Being melodramatic? What the heck is going on here?! It’s strange and confusing albeit eye-catching. As much as I like the U.K. version, I might actually be more inclined to pick up the U.S. version if only to find an explanation for the strange cover. Still, points to the U.K. designer for style.
North Water by Ian McGuire
Earlier this year I actually bought the U.K. version of North Water because I love the cover design so much. But judging from what I’ve read about the book, I think the U.S. version is probably a better fit. The U.K. version presses more of my aesthetic buttons but I think it’s a tossup between the two.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This is an example of when U.K. designers get things totally and utterly wrong. I don’t even know what to make of the U.K. cover. It’s so hideous that when I first saw it I assumed it was something a student had made for a school project. The U.S. version, on the other hand, is stunning and evocative.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
I own the U.S. version of this one and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. It really invokes the claustrophobic feel of the novel and the water smudging the letters on the window is just perfect. I think you’ll agree that the U.K. version isn’t as great but I don’t hate it either. The text color is interesting and unexpected, and unlike many of the U.K. covers in this post, I think it gives off a distinct euro vibe. I wouldn’t mind owning the U.K. version in paperback.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The U.S. and U.K. cover of The Girl on the Train are remarkably similar. I like the color scheme of the U.S. version but the dizzying typography of the U.K. version is also fitting. I think it’s a tossup between the two.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
This is another case of extreme similarity between the U.S. and U.K. covers. (What I want to know is, did the U.S. designer copy the U.K. designer or the other way around? Or were they designed by the same person?) I think the U.S. cover has an edge over the U.K. version. The typography is bolder and the colors are brighter, which is more attention-grabbing.
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
The U.S. cover of Boy, Snow, Bird is gorgeous and nothing can compete with it. Still, the U.K. cover is actually much more beautiful than it appears here. IRL, the brown/dark khaki areas are actually gold foil, which gives it a lovely, more three-dimensional.
The Bees by Laline Paull
The U.S. and U.K. covers of The Bees are similar in many ways but the end result is completely different. The U.K. cover almost feels like a cheap knockoff of the U.S. version. The paperback U.S. version is also gorgeous.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The U.S. cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was much-praised and for good reason. The U.K. version on the other hand… Where do I even start? First of all, the woman on the cover doesn’t look anything like any version of Lisbeth I can imagine. She doesn’t even look a little bit goth. I also find it distasteful that the cover seems to be ripped right out of the major rape scene in the book. There are so many other scenes and you picked that one? Ugh. This has to be the worst cover on my list.
Room by Emma Donoghue
Lastly, we have Room. I own the U.S. edition and I think it’s brilliantly minimalistic. The U.K. version isn’t awful; it’s just kind of…meh.
Do you generally prefer U.S. or U.K. book covers? Which are your favorites of the ones I’ve listed here?