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Cover Cage Match: The Lies of Locke Lamora

March 5, 2012

In honor of Suvudu’s hilarious and utterly kickass SF&F character cage match, whose 2012 iteration started today, this is the first part in what I hope will be an ongoing series: Cover Cage Match. Only, instead of mashing up different book covers and pitting them against one another, we’ll be looking at two different iterations of the same cover. The best part? You get to vote.

Aside from my personal geekery over graphic design and typefaces, I’ve got a serious and (gasp!) potentially educational reason for this. Book design is changing in today’s market, with increasing emphasis being placed on a cover’s legibility as a tiny thumbnail, at etailers or on a color ereader. Likewise, publishers outside the US have their own concerns, and may want to convey something different to readers than their American counterparts. Not to mention repackaging of books between editions from the same publisher. But I could go on about this forever, and that would be boring.

So! Tonight’s guest: Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora.

Exhibit A: US hardcover, vs. Exhibit B: US mass-market paperback.

Does a lot change in a year, or what? I’ve always been a huge fan of the title treatment from Lies, so I’m glad they kept it on the mass-market cover. And the new version is colorful; I’ll give it that.

But it also, in my opinion, misses the elegant simplicity of the hardcover version. Together, the title treatment and the suggestion of a castle are more than enough to suggest “medieval-era fantasy world”–as if the blurb from GRRM didn’t do that all by its lonesome–without defaulting to the “long-haired guy in period dress with sword” type. By contrast, the mass-market version feels cluttered. The title gets lost a bit in those rainbow-colored spires, the yellow/white combo of the lettering does it no favors, and why oh why that font for GRRM’s quote?

But that’s just my opinion. Fire away with yours below!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2012 8:52 PM

    That second cover is the WORST. I’m so sad you don’t do Wheel of Time because there are some wacky covers in that series to compare to one another, and most of them are terrible.

  2. March 6, 2012 10:17 AM

    I love them both. the first cover is elegant and simple and Italian-esque and immediately makes me ask “what in the world is this book about???” – immediate interest and intrigue. the first time I read Lies, it was that hardcover edition (thank you library!).

    the second cover I have a fondness for because I like pretty shiny colors and it’s the version I own so I’ve looked at it a lot. but it lessens the mystery – yup, this is some kinda fantasy with a male protag who is some kinda outsider.

    • March 6, 2012 11:54 AM

      That’s one point I hadn’t considered–I guess mystery and intrigue are less key in a mass-market edition, since people have likely already heard of the book and know a bit about it.


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