Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Point of the Cover Reveal

So, this week, I've been thinking about cover reveals - when the cover of a new book is revealed for the first time, usually online. I can understand why people get excited - authors and readers alike - but recently I've been a bit troubled by the idea. You see, I totally get cover reveals for standalone books, or even books that are the first in a series. What I don't get is making a big deal over the reveal for a sequel, or a later instalment in a series. This was cemented for me a few days ago, when the cover of Cassandra Clare's City of Heavenly Fire, was revealed. This book is the sixth in the Mortal Instruments series. This is it.

And these are the other five covers in the series.

Is it just me or do they look a little similar? Like, very similar? I'm not picking on Cassandra Clare - who I am sure has almost nothing to do with her covers, the same as any author - or her books. I don't particularly like these covers, but that's not the point either. My point is that they're really similar. A city scape at the bottom, people without whole faces on display, a wishy-washy colour thing going on around them. I'm not complaining that they're similar, I get super mad when series of books don't match, but I object to them being revealed as if they are new and unique and special.

When the sixth cover was revealed a week or so ago, it was done so on a billboard. In Times Square. Somebody paid for a billboard in Times Square and bunch of coverage of an event, to reveal a cover that looks pretty much exactly like the five that came before it. And, might I add, kind of similar to Clare's other series of books, the Infernal Devices.

Again, not picking on Cassandra Clare or the people who design her covers, although it may seem that way and I should probably be digging around on the internet for other authors with series of books, but she had a recent release that a big fuss was made over, so she's sticking in my mind. But these books are incredibly similar, too. I have to stress, I like when series covers match. I love it. I hate when they change. But I don't get building up to a big cover reveal.

My first experience of the cover reveal must have been the Harry Potter series. I looked forward to finding out what the covers would look like, it was exciting, like I already had a little piece of the book that I was waiting so long for. But those covers, while matching, were different. They had unique illustrations on them, something that a lot of time and effort had gone into creating. They weren't just a stock photograph of a faceless figure on a smoky background.

Looking at them all together like this, you can see how different each one is, while still clearly being a part of the set. These are covers worth revealing. Take Deathly Hallows for example. None of us knew how the series was going to end, but look at all the little hints and clues this cover gave us. Are Harry, Ron and Hermione in Gringotts? Are they running from something or reaching for something? Is that a sword coming out of Harry's back? Who's holding the sword? Is that a house-elf? This cover gave us so many things to discuss and speculate, as did several of the others. In fact, the only covers here that didn't really give us anything to speculate about are the first and fifth, although the first did beg the question platform nine and three quarters? Whaaaat?

Since starting to blog about books and being more active on twitter, I see cover reveals all the time. And they're a good idea, they raise the profile of books and honestly, seeing a cover helps me decide if I'm interested in reading a book or not. It cements the idea of the book in my head, more so than a synopsis does. And I do kind of see the reasoning behind posting the cover of a series book online and saying ta-dah! But to go all out for a cover reveal, to make a big thing of it when the cover just looks like all the others in the series? Nope, sorry, do not get that at all.

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