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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

UK vs USA: A Book Cover Evaluation

By Megan Coote, Abbie Wright, Juliette Tulloch and Laura Wallace

Choosing the right cover design is no easy decision for an author and different designs can give the same book a completely different feel. For this issue, the cover evaluation team is going to be comparing US and UK designs.

Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Bonnie Garmus’s empowering debut Lessons In Chemistry has taken the book world by storm, reaching the number one spot on both the Sunday Times and New York Times Bestseller lists. The 1960’s historical novel follows talented chemist Elizabeth Zott and her resistance against societal norms which perceive a woman's place as being in the domestic sphere, rather than the professional one. The US and UK cover designs, whilst both striking, are also quite different. The UK Cover is separated into four bright block squares, reminiscent of the periodic table, and can also be found under the hardcover jacket. The word In is stylised to look like the element Indium on the periodic table, providing another clear nod to chemistry, while a woman wearing a dress and heels is holding a television set. The screen shows a woman wearing a lab coat using a chemistry set, depicting Elizabeth’s job as a television cooking host during which she incorporates chemistry, her true love. In contrast, the US edition is pink with a woman's face peering over cat-eye sunglasses. This cartoon style design is especially popular for the romance genre. Whilst there is a love interest, this book is not a romance and the US covers; more light-hearted design contrasts with the contents as the book incorporates very serious themes such as sexual assault. However, there is still a nod to chemistry; a chemistry set is reflected in Elizabeth’s glasses indicating that chemistry is constantly on her mind. The number two pencil which secures her hair references a pivotal scene and makes the character appear studious. Overall, the UK cover more accurately matches the book’s tone but both are eye-catching.

Crying in H-Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H-Mart is Michelle Zauner’s incredible 2021 memoir, which revolves around the death of Zauner’s mother and her connection to her Korean-American culture. Both the US (left) and UK (right) book cover provide a simplistic look at the story’s contents. The US cover (Na Kim) is an image of noodles paired with 2 sets of chopsticks, highlighting both Zauner’s Korean background and the fact that her memoir contains a strong sense of companionship through her relationship with her mother. In addition, the deep red background highlights how vivid the pictures and memories that Zauner will present us with really are. I believe this cover is eye-catching and a perfect simplistic cover for the novel. The UK version of the cover takes a different approach, with an illustrated picture of Zauner carrying multiple food products in her arms providing the centrepiece of the cover. This imagery is far more poignant in comparison to the US cover as it highlights the struggle that Zauner has faced throughout her life, in particular in regard to her mother and her passing. The lighter-coloured background also gives the book a more mellow feeling and while not being as eye-catching as the US cover, I believe that it portrays the contents of the novel in the correct light. Overall, I believe both covers are fantastic and provide a small insight into the novel itself, however, if I were to choose, I believe the symbolism in the UK cover is more relevant and emotional than the US cover.

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim is a YA book inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale, The Wild Swans. The UK cover is shown on the left-hand side, with the US cover on the right-hand side. Both covers are very different in style but compelling in their own way.

The US cover contains strong, bold images and bright red text, the bolder design being appropriate for the US market. The amazing artwork, courtesy of Tran Nguyen, illustrates Shiori with a crane wrapped around her head, signifying the bowl she cannot remove, and the crane signifying the curse she has surrounding her brothers. The bowl cannot be removed as it prevents recognition and the curse means that she cannot speak - for each word she does speak, one of her brothers will die. The crane and the bowl are one and the same in the cover intertwining both curses held over her.

The UK cover has a dreamy pastel colour scheme, with subtle gold embossing giving the impression of a lighthearted fairytale. The six cranes above her are her brothers who were turned into cranes by her stepmother. This is a very attractive colour and is our favourite out of the two.



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