Discussion: Mid-Series Cover Changes (+ why publishers have a death wish)


Personality-wise, I’m an extremely OCD person: everything has its place, including publishers who feel the need to change book covers partway through a series (aka, a special spot in hell).  Why must they destroy my bookshelf aesthetic and force me into purchasing duplicate copies of previous installments, just so the covers and spines match?

If publishers were bent on altering the cover designs of a series, I would prefer they released every installment with the original covers as well as the new covers.  To me, this seems perfectly logical as it satisfies everyone, with readers having their pick between the two, but this method’s lack of employment by major publishing companies hints that I’m in the minority from this standpoint.  If this were the widely adopted rationale, I’d be a much happier bookworm and this rant would be entirely avoidable.  Unfortunately that’s not the case, so you may want to grab some popcorn.

I am unashamed to admit that I routinely judge books by their covers; cover art and design consequently play a huge role in my book purchases.  Pretty covers automatically catch my eye, and I’m significantly more likely to purchase works with attractive covers as opposed to borrowing them from the library.  Hence mid-series redesigns serving as the bane of my existence.

I tend to be highly opinionated when it comes to these unfortunate and highly unappreciated cover alterations: I either immediately fall in love with the new designs (in which case I repurchase the earlier books in the series), or I’m a hardcore fan of the original covers (the more frequent of the two, of course, which leaves me entirely out of luck in most situations).  It’s merely rubbing salt in the wound when the covers take a turn for the worse and prove to be significantly uglier than their absolutely stunning predecessors:

I will admit, there are a few rare occasions when the new covers outdo the originals, but these tend to be few and far between:

When a series attains the publicity and fame of many of the examples above, readers can often readily identify the books by their covers, even from across the room.  Without a consistent theme or design throughout the entirety of the series, however, later publications may not receive the same recognition as their predecessors because readers do not immediately associate them due to their redesigned covers.  I’ve found this holds to be true particularly for individuals who don’t regularly stalk visit Goodreads, book blogs, booktube, etc. and consequently have no notification of the cover change before or after it occurs.

I’ve developed a few theories over the years as to why publishers have forced obnoxiously unnecessary cover changes down readers’ throats:

  1. Everyone from the publishing company has simultaneously developed quick-onset amnesia and has entirely forgotten that there were earlier installments in the series, let alone perfectly good covers.
  2. The employees were held at gunpoint and ordered to alter the covers by a highly deranged individual with the hopes of ruining the lives of readers worldwide.
  3. They foster a highly sadistic approach to their careers and derive pleasure from the ensuing torment.  Cue villainous cackle.

I think I hit the nail on the head with that final theory – it’s completely plausible and lacks any holes in logic whatsoever.

What are your thoughts on cover redesigns partway through a series?  Do you feel inclined to purchase matching editions of the books when these changes occur?  Are there any mid-series cover changes that particularly irked you?
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I am a freshman in college and an avid reader/reviewer, horseback rider, and graphic designer.  Since a young age, I have fostered a love of reading, beginning with my forays into the Nancy Drew series.  I’ve branched out significantly in my reading tastes since then, and my favorite genres include young adult, romance, mystery, and thriller.  I’m constantly trying to expand my horizons, however, so I do dabble in other genres.  While I’m not reading, I volunteer at a hippotherapy center and a veterinary clinic, practice agility with my dogs, play piano and guitar, and sketch.
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2 thoughts on “Discussion: Mid-Series Cover Changes (+ why publishers have a death wish)

  1. Mid-series cover changes are one of my biggest pet-peeve. They activate my OCD tendencies like nothing else. If it’s a BELOVED series and the covers NEED to match, I will hunt down the original ones or the new ones depending on which is nicer to have a matching set. Otherwise, I don’t because I’m not rich and I refuse to give publishers more money when the move is so obviously a money grab!


    • Yay, someone who shares my bookish pet peeves! That’s a good rule of thumb regarding replacing earlier books in a series when new covers come out. I think I may need to steal that one!


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