What Happened To Creativity? Two Books, One Cover

When looking through a bookshelf, be it physical or virtual, the first thing you usually see is the cover. When looking for my next read, I’m often captivated by a beautiful cover design and feel compelled to check out a book. This is even more the case when I don’t know the author. You know, you can throw any Stephen King book at me with whatever cover, and I’ll read it. Because I know him, love his writing, therefore I don’t need anything else apart from his name to make me read his stuff.

When it comes to authors I’ve never heard of however, it’s a little bit more difficult. I don’t know who they are, what genre they do, how they write. I need something to intrigue me. Sure, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it, we kind of do. A tacky, unprofessional looking cover is not going to fill me with confidence in the quality of the writing, even though I could be completely wrong. Probably will never know as I won’t read it. Ha!

So when it comes to creating an appealing product (because no matter how you put it, a book is a product you intend to sell and profit from), all those creative people out there whose job is to design beautiful covers sure have their work cut out for them.

I’m sure you noticed there are certain trends that crop up and are used frequently. Just think of all those mystery thrillers with a woman in all kinds of colorful coats.

Or the movie covers, hated by so many. Do flower arrangements ring a bell? It can be hard to distinguish one book from another, to be honest, but it’s not impossible to create variety within the same theme.

Covers that are way to generic just appear sloppy, and say nothing about the story itself. An image that you can slap onto any book and it will still sort of work is just sort of lazy in my eyes.

But when two books literally have the exact same cover? Sure, there’s a little bit of photoshopping, like different filters, a slightly different perspective. However it’s easy to see it’s the same bloody thing.

What happened to creativity?

If I were an author and someone did this to my book, I’d be quite a bit offended. You see, these two books are coming out around the same time. Now imagine, one of them turns out to be hated by people, and you are the author of the other one. Wouldn’t you worry that people will shun your book, because after a quick glance they think it’s the other one?

I certainly hope this won’t be the case here, and I wish both of these authors all the best with their book.

My favourite type of cover? The ones that were clearly created with the book in mind. They depict something essential to the story, and work wonders to enhance the product, rather than just simply describing it. Just look at these beauties! They are part of the story…

What do you think? Should cover designers put in a little more effort?

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68 comments

  1. Oh gosh, that’s bad. If I were an author, I’d definitely be offended. I suppose many use stock images and can’t keep track of what’s been used before? Still, it is rather lazy and terribly confusing for us readers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, women in coats are a thing! ๐Ÿ˜€
      It was so obviously the same, it took me a while to realize they were not the same book. Kept looking at it, thinking “i’m sure i added this to my list already, so why it’s not on it?” ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fun one! From what I heard authors don’t have any say in the cover until they see it, when I heard this, my jaw dropped. I will write a whole book and then I won’t have a say in cover! I can’t imagine it. I agree with you that book covers should reflect the spirit of the book, or else why do they exist?? I guess writers just cross their fingers, toes, whatever is available to wait and see their covers. x

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Second time that I am seeing different books with the exact same cover. The first was ‘Not Her Daughter’ by Rea Frey and ‘The Birthday’ by Carol Wyer. Loved both books but didnโ€™t like the cover things. It is crazy and you have a good point about the covers affecting how the books are perceived. Like you, I prefer when covers are closely related to the story and not generic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Damn, you are right! They just changed the color of the shoe… well, that explains a lot. I have the Carol Wyer book, and Amazon kept suggesting the other one, and every time i look at the cover i’m like “i’m pretty sure i have this already”… ๐Ÿ˜€

      Like

  4. That woman in the red coat whose back faces us is on SO many covers! Authors should beware of making these kinds of mistakes in packaging because their branding is at stake.

    I remember when self publishing started becoming more popular and covers were just awful or you saw the same stock photography popping up everywhere. Now weโ€™re seeing publishers getting lazy with covers. Like you, I want to see the cover link to the inside story in meaningful ways and love the examples you show above.

    I know a lot of independent or self published authors who understand that presentation matters and invest in covering their product exceptionally. It makes such a big difference in potential readers stopping and giving a book a second look or moving on.

    Great post, Norrie๐Ÿ’œ

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yea, i’m thinking when they self publish they have a say in the cover but may still end up picking something that is just wrong or has been used to death.

      When it’s published via a publisher, I would expect much higher quality, but it doesn’t always seem to be the case.

      Not sure if they are trying to save on production cost or what, but it’s not really doing anyone any favours i think…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, Norrie. This is not where you want to be saving money. FYI, I heard the story of an indie author who was self publishing his first book, a mystery/thriller. He visited a lot of bookstores and noted that the covers of most books in the genre were professional and really well done. He invested in a good cover artist and hand delivered supplies to bookstores who gave him great store space because the book LOOKED so good. He attributes that cover to launching his successful career.

        Sometimes you CAN judge a book by its cover.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh, that’s cool! Seems like he did his homework properly ๐Ÿ˜€
          I mean all kinds of brands put so much effort into their design and packaging. Part of my work is we test different package designs for various stuff on consumers to see which they like most, would make them buy the most.
          A book is the same thing ๐Ÿ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Iโ€™ve never thought of the coated woman before but she is everywhere!๐Ÿ˜‚
    And I canโ€™t believe they used the same cover! Could they not at least have taken a picture of a different door??
    That really has blown my mind!
    I understand that doing the cover is a part of the branding and marketing of the book which would tend to fall under the publishers job, but would it be so bad for them to work with the author? If my book got given a bad cover I would be so god damn pissed, especially if it got given the exact same cover as someone else! I mean cโ€™mon!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am one of those people who don’t like movie covers! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have noticed many books have similar covers, and it makes me sad. It doesn’t help the author or the novel to find their readers. I like many of Orenda Books covers because they really look for things that make the book even more original.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m always upset when my kindle books automatically update to movie covers… Even though when i bought them they looked completely different. Kinda want to have the option to choose, ya know… ๐Ÿ˜€

      Those Orenda covers are really pretty indeed! They do match the story and seem like they are purposefully made ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  7. I think in some ways, the internet obviated the need for good cover art in most mediums. After all, it can have the best cover in the world, and that wonโ€™t matter if the story is terrible. Itโ€™s a shame people underestimate the power of a good cover because it still makes your work stand out from that of your peers. And youโ€™re right – film poster art has become very boring over the years. If itโ€™s a AAA film, you can expect a lot of bright colors, and if itโ€™s an indie film, you can expect it to be boringly simplistic – no more advanced than a photo you yourself may have taken.

    Pretty much the only mediums that have interesting covers anymore are music and video games. The former by default requires a lot of imagination considering itโ€™s one of the few non-visual mediums people regularly consume (if not, the only one) whereas the latter, to its credit, tends to operate on very out-there premises, meaning you would have to try to give the game in question boring cover art.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s such a good point, about being able to publish anything and just slap whatever cover onto it. I think when it’s actually unexpected to see sloppy and generic covers is when the book is published by a traditional publisher, where i’d expect some more thought & quality.

      Video game covers are pretty cool! I haven’t been playing that often nowadays, but every now and then i just browse the stuff. โค

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m with you on this, I hate seeing silly, generic covers, which put me off a book straight away. And poor authors probably get no say in what happens in the marketing dept. to their covers, unless they’re maybe, Stephen King! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    When all is said and done, it makes the publisher look like a cheapskate doing this kind of thing, and have a lack of belief in the author. Which is crackers, given the whole point is they want to sell books, right?

    As for those two authors in your example? I feel for them. I didn’t particularly like either cover and wouldn’t be interested in reading a dull book, with a dull cover.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Right? It’s like they don’t want to sell them, just making a halfhearted attempt ๐Ÿ˜€ I imagine it’s cheaper to get these covers done, but in the long run…? Meh, i don’t know, but it doesn’t look good.

      I quite like the door image with the greenish filter, but at the same time, what does that have to do with the book? ๐Ÿ˜€ Yea, it’s a house, the main character lives in a house. So do other people… LOL.

      Like

  9. It just defies any sense of logic to go this route. And really doesn’t say much about the publisher either. I mean, who do they have doing these covers? A blind person? Even Google’s weird AI pics make more sense.

    I guess I’ve been spoilt too with all the neat SF and fantasy cover artwork out there, where a little more thought goes into the covers. And they hire “real” artists. Ha! Ha!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know, right? I’ve seen some really beautiful covers on recent sci-fi books i’ve been checking out.
      I think a good cover should be like and investment. At my work we did a few studies for publishers who were testing different covers to see which worked best for the target audience ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think now, more than ever, with SFFH books, we’re seeing some amazing stuff on the covers. So it’s just boggling that a publisher sets up a book to fail with such generic artwork as a front door. Maybe they think blind people buy books? LMAO!

        Oh, now that’s interesting. What do you do for work that you get to do stuff like that?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah, just good old market research ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s mostly boring, but every now and then we come across some juicy stuff! ๐Ÿ˜€
          There was the book stuff, and one time a yogurt brand was testing out flavour ideas for xmas. That was some crazy stuff! Most of those flavours never made it into the public, but there were some edgy ones, like the Mulled Wine yogurt, LOL ๐Ÿ˜€

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ooo, market research can have its upside, as you say, when some interesting stuff comes across your desk. I like the sound of the yogurts, yum. I guess it’s not a boring job if you get to sample, eh, some of the stuff you research. ๐Ÿ˜‰

            Liked by 1 person

  10. I also have noticed that cover designers are becoming less creative recently and many ideas for covers for thrillers especially are being repeated. I guess there are only so many “girl/women/daughter/wife” titles that go well with their covers and after a while they all merge into one. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes, those titles as well… :/
      I remember a few years ago I wanted to buy the Girl on the Train, and accidentally ended up buying A Girl on A Train… ugh.

      Like

  11. Wow, they really are all so similar, Norrie! Thatโ€™s super confusing too! No wonder I end up buying more than one copy of the same book sometimes! (Probably not really the reason?! ๐Ÿ˜‚ Iโ€™m just disorganized with my books!). I love a standout cover and loved your examples at the bottom!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love how Amazon tells me if i already bought a book on kindle… but yea, when it comes to buying a paperback in the charity, i always have to look through my kindle app to make sure i don’t have that book already :/

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is such a relatable post. Although I feel like it is quite difficult to find a proper cover for mysteries and thrillers… in the end they’d just use a similarly vibed picture and color scheme to evoke mystery and darkness.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Iโ€™ve never really noticed such similar book covers, so Iโ€™m like, โ€œWow!โ€ Theyโ€™re all like almost exactly the same.

    I have noticed similar trends among movie poster design though. So I guess it should not be surprising that books do likewise.

    Fun post!

    Iโ€™d say, yeah, publishers or authors might wanna be a bit more creative in their covers.

    Funny, a post about reading covers under the covers (blankie). I like it!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Beware Of The Reader

    I think some authors have very distinctive covers that you recognize easily like Emma Scott or Suanne Laqueur or …but yes I do think many covers should be more imaginative!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh my goodness. I’ve never really seen the ‘woman in red coat’ thing before but you’re right. Now I’ve seen it I can’t un-see it. I even have a thriller book that has woman in red coat on the cover and never thought anything of it until now!

    I think there’s ‘being inspired by’ and ‘common themes/ images’ when designing covers but not the outright copying that is occurring with the door example above. I wonder who created it first? It’s too similar to be simply a trend surely? I’d be incredibly annoyed if I were the author.

    Like

  16. Oh wow, those covers are all so…bad. LOL I mean, if you’re going to copy-paste, at least copy something that’s pretty and eye-catching. This does remind of an article that came out recently about how girls holding weapons on fantasy covers (especially YA) is overused and dull. That got people pretty pissed off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, is it? ๐Ÿ˜€ Goes to show i don’t look at many fantasy. It sort of makes sense tho – i mean it has characters with cool weapons, so that goes with the story. Hehe. Unless they copy/paste the same woman with the same weapon on everything…

      Like

  17. Great examples Norrie!! I totally think that a cover reflects what the publisher thinks of the book. The more unique it is the better they think of it. There are of course trends in books and people respond to those trends so they work on some level… but I agree that designers should design with that specific book in mind. โค๏ธ Great discussion!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right?
      It sort of makes sense… if everything looks the same, we perceive them that they are the same thing and there’s no reason to look again. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  18. FIRST OF ALL, HOW DARE YOU remind me 2 girls 1 cup exists with this title.

    Secondly whoa at those two books, that is so weird??? Like I always find it funny with there are obvious parallels/inspiration for designs but that is bad. I wonder if it was the same cover designer.

    Like you, i love when the cover obviously relates to the story itself! Great post, sin of the title aside.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I haven’t read Fangirl but I lovelovelove the cover, too. โ™ก I’ve totally seen two different books with the same cover but colored differently! I always wondered how the heck they get away with straight up copying like that?!

    Like

  20. * pushing glasses up my nose * Okay. A few minutes ago I vowed to myself I wouldnยดt leave such a LONG comment under your posts today but this, THIS, is right up my alley * now pushing invisible sleeves up arms * I laughed so hard when I read
    `Probably will never know as I wonโ€™t read it. Ha!` Yupp. I hear you. Loud and clear, even. Itยดs mind-boggling that someone would ever think they could sell a product with poor taste/quality. Iยดm always sitting here thinking ” Youยดve got to be fucking kidding me” Imagine 1 book with 230 pages and a poor cover for a grand total of 16 euros. Ha! Nice try. The mystery thrillers with the women in coats… shocking. From all the images in the entire world, these make it on those covers? A clear case of “what worked for that one book will probably work for the next one.”.
    Movie covers- Do you like them?
    The same houses / doors- * holding breath *
    I agree with you on the covers that have the book in mind.
    To your question: YES!! Some cover designers really need to put a little more effort into their work.
    Rant. Over.
    ( Iยดm sorry for the huge comment. )

    Like

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