Well, hello Spectacle! It’s my first official post on the blog, so let’s get started…
I recently returned from a few weeks in the U.K. (it was originally scheduled to be two, but ended up as three due to good ‘ol Eyjafjallajokull), and while I was there I had a chance to scan the kid’s and teen sections of the country’s two largest bookstores.
First off, it was nice to see a couple of teen fantasy/sci-fi series riding high on the overall book chart (sitting alongside adult blockbusters like Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy). Amongst all the vampire stuff, the Skulduggery Pleasant and Percy Jackson series seem to be doing particularly well, the latter adorned with new covers that make it seem more epic and adult compared to the (admittedly awesome) North American ones.
Which brings me to the main point of this post, and something that has always interested me: book covers.
In general, the big difference I notice between North American and European markets when it comes to sci-fi/fantasy covers is just how much the illustrations scream sci-fi/fantasy. It seems like American covers often go for artier, more mysterious and subtle approaches–things that have a better chance at pulling in the masses. Whereas in England, covers fall more on the comic-booky, movie poster side. Take The Hunger Games (US/UK) or the Darren Shan books (US/UK), or even Harry Potter (US/UK). And then there’s those only-in-the-UK releases, like Keith Mansfield’s Johnny Mackintosh trilogy or Alex Scarrow’s TimeRiders, both of which have very in-your-face fantastical covers
Maybe it’s the influence of Dr. Who and its ilk (and it is still a big influence), but Brits seem to be less self-conscious about throwing it all out there on the cover. Aliens, magic, beasts… the more the merrier. I can’t say that I have an overriding preference for one or the other, but I’m glad for the diversity. What do you guys think? Do you prefer the more mysterious approach or something a little more action-movie?
Nick James thinks there’s gotta be a story in a volcanic ash cloud that holds an entire country hostage, though Eyjafjallajokull might not be the catchiest title…