Monday, August 16, 2010

Battle of the Cover Art: UK vs US: The Help and The Hunger Games

While I was in England, of course I had to visit bookstores. I took notice of two very popular books: The Help and The Hunger Games. I had to take pictures. As you can see, their covers are very different than what is offered in the American version. Let's examine The Help first.

I'll say one thing for the British. They certainly keep it real! I haven't read The Help, but when you look at the British cover, it leaves no doubt what kind of "help" the book is talking about. I love it. It's raw and in your face. Bam! Now look at the American cover. If the book wasn't so popular, you would have no idea what the novel is about in my opinion. The cover is innocuous and neutral, telling you nothing of what the story entails. Like I said, I haven't read it, so perhaps those birds on a wire, are indicative of what lies within, but you certainly wouldn't know it details black maids working in Mississippi in the sixties.

What do you think? Is the British cover too much? Is it too real for American sensibilities and consumption? I've heard it said that The Help would not have been as big a hit and gotten the publicity it did, if a black author had penned it. What do you think about this? Do you think such a belief is credible? Food for thought. I'm a therapist, one of my many titles,  and I like to know what people are thinking and why.

Moving on to The Hunger Games. I haven't read this book either, though I bought it recently and it's waiting on my shelf for me to get some down time to dig into it. Once again, the American cover has no people, but look, there's a bird again! I don't know if the bird is symbolic of anything in the story, but the popularity of the book surpasses the cover art at this point and even I, who haven't read it know the story premise. I assume the girl in the UK version is Katniss and the boy on the over cover must be Peeta. Does the British version capture the image of the characters as you envision them in your imagination? I was surprised to see the UK covers look so cartoonish. I would have thought them to be more edgy, darker, considering the subject matter.

Hope you enjoyed the covers and the discussion. Until the next time...



  1. Hi, June,
    For "The Help", I really prefer the UK cover, but then I usually like the UK or European covers and titles more than the NA versions. For "Hunger Games", though, I wouldn't pick it up based on the UK cover. I don't like YA or video games, and these images suggest that to me.

    Great discussion topic -- covers are really important to me, so it'll be interesting to hear what others say!

  2. Cool seeing those covers! I've read both and loved them.

  3. Yeah Donna. I agree. I like the clear in-your-face quality of the UK version of The Help. Well...The Hunger Games is a YA book, so regardless of the cover, if you don't like YA, you wouldn't be buying this for stopping in :-)

    T. Anne, I'm glad you enjoyed seeing two books you love in a different light. I aim to please :-)

  4. Really interesting post!! For the longest time, I had no idea what The Help was about. Even though it was so popular, I never gave it a second thought b/c I thought it was a self-help book, kind of like Eckhart Tolle's New Earth. Then my mom read it and I was like, "Oh, I might actually read that." So I like the UK cover better.

    BUt i like the US cover of Hunger Games better. it has really become the symbol of the books. it might even help not to have an image of the characters, the readers can make it up on their own.

  5. I am not an expert in this but I think visuals really reflects what feeling/s or understanding it wants to draw from a viewer or reader in hunting of a book at that.

    In my own point of view, books should be appealing from its very cover. Its visuals, graphics or title should be something that as you see the book in a bookstore, library, book stand or what have you, it seems to shout at you, "GRAB ME! BUY ME! YOU WILL LOVE READING ME!" as you look at it or read its title.

    Nice review!! :) I like the UK cover of The Help and US cover of Hunger Games

  6. Carrie, you're funny. A self-help book huh? That's a I vote UK for The Help and US for Hunger Games.

    Carla, I couldn't agree with you more. That's well said. Every aspect of a book should work together to send a message to the reader of the book's intent. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  7. Hi! Long-time fan, first-time poster. I've read your blog before, but didn't have a blogspot until now.
    Interesting post! Sometimes, when I take long walks through Borders,(because I am a nerd, and would do such things) I think about how many good books I don't pick up because of how ugly or uninteresting their covers are. And how many bad books with great-looking covers I pick up. This is especially true in YA, where the majority of new books feature covers that are nothing but close-up shots of girls' necks or shoulders with vampire teethmarks in them. The repetition bores me.

    The Hunger Games is a decent cover in the US. Knowing the book's reception, it makes me want to pick it up and see what its all about. The UK version is similar, honestly. You still get no impression about what the book is about.

    I always like to take Harry Potter into consideration for matters like these, though. The original cover of Harry Potter (US/UK editions) turned me away as a child. I thought it looked...well...flamboyant, to be quite honest, and wasn't a fan of Grandpre's style. But the book's reputation preceded it, and when I actually read the book, I grew to appreciate how heavily detailed that cover was!

  8. I love the top cover. i still have not read The Help even though I've been told by many that I should!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier! I appreciate it.

  9. Hi October! What you've said about YA books is so true. There's one that is soon to be released and for the life of me, I can't connect the cover to what the book is supposed to be about.

    Harry Potter. I can't remember what the original cover looked like. I think I've seen the UK version and it looked cartoonish to me. I've tried, but I can't into the books at all. They just bore me silly, but I do like the movies!

    I agree about The Hunger Games. You can't tell much from either cover. So happy to hear you're a fan of the blog. That's so sweet of you! Thanks.

  10. Hey Michelle. That cover is awesome isn't it? Glad we've touched base again!

  11. I like the UK cover of The Help and the US cover of The Hunger Games. This was interesting. I like seeing international covers.

  12. Thanks for stopping in Medeia. I try to add something a little different around here when I can.

  13. Well with regards to The Help -- the belief in USA is books with covers depicting Black Folk don't sell.

  14. I have always found the way the UK handles books to be different. It's interesting as a writer though. At a recent writing conference, where I was a faculty member, an agent told the story of a writer who was published with the UK affiliate of a large publishing house. She had received a sizeable advance but still she didn't feel validated (as an American) because the US affiliate did not want to publisher her book. All this to say that I do think as you say the UK keeps it real. I like the, in your face, version of "The Help." And I do wonder if it would have sold as well. Probably not. And the discussion of the book is an entirely different topic but, though I haven't read it, I have a lot to say about it. I really don't feel that if the book had been written by a black writer that it would have been as popular. But, like I said, that's another story. Sorry to be so long winded but all this to say, thank you for pointing this out to us.


I enjoy reading what you have to say. Seriously!