Saturday, August 02, 2008

Imperfect Mates

Unfortunately, there seems no end to the blithe willingness of publishers to present previously used artwork on the jackets of their new books. Our latest examples of such copycat covers come from opposite sides of the Atlantic.

On the left, you will see the front of Vices of My Blood (McClelland & Stewart, 2006), British-born Canadian novelist Maureen Jennings’ seventh book featuring turn-of-the-last-century Toronto detective William Murdoch. And on the right, of course, is the recently released Bleeding Heart Square (Michael Joseph), by UK author Andrew Taylor. I don’t think anybody would question that the same illustration of an overcoat-wearing man walking by a fence has been employed on both covers (and in a video trailer for Taylor’s novel), though it has been reversed on Bleeding Heart Square to make it appear unique.

“Not too happy about this,” remarks Iden Ford, Maureen Jennings’ husband, in an e-mail note pointing out the duplication. I completely understand. Unfortunately, unless publishers inquire fully as to the previous uses of a stock image, and commit themselves to not reusing art that has already appeared on the covers of other books, there will be more of these look-alikes in the future.

If you spot further examples of this annoying trend, especially on crime novels, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me. I’ll post more copycat covers as they become available.


No Name Me said...

Agreed that it is unfortunate, and any casual look through the stacks at B&N will prove that this does happen, all too often. I think it mainly arises from the fact that art departments work with bought, stock images that tend to then be recycled all too often. It doesn't seem that many departments want to invest tons of energy into creating something "new"--chances are they are overworked and putting together multiple cover designs each day. Doesn't leave room for the imagination and brand new, innovative designs.

Example: The young girl on one of my early cover designs just appeared on a new release from my house (and the book is scheduled to come out the same week as mine!). There's a lesson for writers here, too: If you see the same images on designs presented to you (same model used over and over, same images), chances are you and twenty other writers are seeing it. Best to move in a different direction. The writer (or agent) often has to be the one(s) to say, over and over, that the images appear too "stock." Only then do you get something new (and then hope it isn't like some other cover you missed). The squeaky wheel scenario, I'm afraid.

bien said...

Sort of like Sarah Jessica Parker's "dress shock" at the NYC premier of her recent movie.