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Bookalikes: cover twins and book covers with strong family resemblances

Spending as much time as I do reading, writing and talking about books, it’s inevitable that I’m going to see certain patterns and representations crop up over and over. That’s not just true of content–although expect to see a post on that shortly–but also of covers. Since my post several months back on dead girls in gowns on YA covers I’ve been keeping an eye out for cover trends. However, in addition to trends, I’ve also come across what I’ve termed “bookalikes”: book covers that are pretty much twins (some fairly identical, and some a bit more fraternal in looks, but you can be the judge of that.) Below are some that have caught my eye.

Silhouettes: there are silhouettes galore to be found on book covers at the moment, but I thought that these three were quite strikingly similar given their use of colour, the types of profile, and in the case of Jane and the Damned and Incendiary, the type of font.

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Red lipstick on glass: These covers aren’t quite as visually similar as the silhouettes above, but they do incorporate similar colour schemes as well as the striking lipstick/crayon on glass effect.

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Silhouetted girl with crows: I think that we can fairly safely say that Tantony and As Long as the Rivers Flow are twins. (The former, by the way, is excellent, and you should go and read it.)

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Butterflies and pursed-lipped over-the-shoulder pensiveness: These two aren’t quite as perfectly twinned as the above duo, but there’s certainly quite a bit of similarity, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that these books both used the same cover image as a base, with some photoshopping done to add/remove colour on the butterfly, and to add/remove the green singlet in Fate.

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The reflected city: My husband got terribly excited when the latest Rosie Black book arrived, as he mistook it for one of the Kiki Strike books. They’re certainly similar in terms of cover design, what with their reflected silhouetted cityscape and sketched heroine images. (In this case, I suspect it’s a case of great minds–I enjoyed both of these. Kiki Strike review here; Rosie Black review here)

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Dramatic posing and billowy sleeves: These are pretty visually striking, with their moody pose, flaring fabrics and swirly stuff going on in the background. Although the designs are far from perfect twins, there’s certainly an aesthetic echo here.

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Creepy girls with patterns on their faces: Sorry if I gave you nightmares with these, but they’re a touch eerie, aren’t they? Dark backgrounds, overexposed skin, and freaky photoshop overlays make these ones siblings that bear a striking resemblance.

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Title clouds are the new speech bubbles: These could easily be part of the same series, really: check all that blue, those fluffy little clouds, and the scribbly hand-written fonts.

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Trees, snow, and beastly things: I recently read Wolfborn, so its cover was fresh in my mind when I first saw the cover to Lowry’s latest novel Son. And then I came across Rabid, which seems to incorporate elements of both. Perhaps they’re not twins, but there’s certainly some strong family resemblance here.

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Your turn: have you come across any covers that seem to share the same DNA? Let me know, and I’ll add them into the next cover post!

16 comments

  1. I’m not a fan of the same stock images being re-used in recognisable ways as in the two Silhouetted girl with crows covers.

    Also, for your last group, I’d add Maggie Stiefvater’s Forever (cover: http://bookyurt.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Forever-cover.jpg) which isn’t as similar but which I always get visually confused with Sue’s book.

    • Stephanie /

      I agree, Tsana. I often think it’s less an issue of great minds thinking alike than it is small cover design budgets.

      Really interesting point about Forever. It could work very well as the cover for Wolfborn! I’ll have to ask Sue whether she’s seen it. :)

      • I remember when they sent me three potential cover images for Wolfborn(they’d already decided, but showed me anyway) one of the covers had a sort of leafy-foresty outline like that, yes, but it was blue and silver with a wolf silhouette. I haven’t read this one, but remember, Maggie S does write werewolf fiction! :-) . Another idea they had, that didn’t make it to the design stage, was for something inspired by “Fallen”!

        Tell you what, though, there was a novel called Red Wolf, a crime novel, whose European cover was almost identical to Wolfborn- the colour was red instead of orange, the wolf was facing the other way, but otherwise very much the same.

        There is an awful lot of twinning these days, using the same stock images; I saw the ame stock image for two YA romances in the same series from the same publisher!

        Often, though, it’s just a case of the same theme, like all those girls in ball gowns -prom dresses as US bloggers call them – for teen romances, whether they’re dystopian or paranormal or SF set in a deep space generation ship.

        • Stephanie /

          Thanks for visiting Sue, and for giving us some insight into the cover design process. I can definitely see that publishers want to show readers that certain books fall within particular genres or contain certain themes, and I think it’s very easy to tell this when you walk into a shop at the moment. It’s almost the visual equivalent of “if you like X, you’ll like Y!”.

          Like you I’m not a fan of stock imagery or the current overreliance on Photoshop brushes and swirls. I do tend to prefer iconic covers over ones that contain a photograph of the protagonist as well. :)

    • I AGREE. I feel a little bit of second hand embarrassment actually.

      Amber Elise @ Du Livre

      • Stephanie /

        I haven’t read its “twin”, but Tantony is wonderful. :) I hear it’s being repackaged with a new cover, too, so hopefully I can update this post with the new one!

  2. Tantony and As Long as the Rivers Flow covers are twins with the same sweater on in different colors.

  3. This is great! I love how you noticed all of the similarities! Some cheesy (butterfly on the shoulder) and some awesome, but still very cool to notice it all!

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks, Rebecca! I try to keep track of design trends, but it’s interesting to see how truly similar some designs can be–far more than just mere trends!

  4. The cover design of a wonderful book I’m almost at the end of seems very familiar from an earlier book cover but I can’t think of the title of the other book to compare it to: The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison.

    • Stephanie /

      Maybe Jonathan Safran Foer’s work? Or a Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian? Skippy Dies is quite similar, too. (I have a post coming up on the scribbly font trend!)

      • It came to me overnight, Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall, but when I looked it up, it had a similar font, but wasn’t as alike as I thought.

        • Stephanie /

          Isn’t that interesting, Laurie! It makes me wonder how much of a cover we actually take in–perhaps we just see certain “ideas” or highlights when we look at a cover.

  5. My first Ondine book has a twin. It’s called Montacute House by Lucy Jago

    http://www.bookdepository.com/Montacute-House-Lucy-Jago/9780747597957

    different publishing house, and Lucy’s book came out a month after Ondine. It just happened this way. Publishers pay a royalty to use the photo, but they have to pay much higher rates to have the picture exclusively.

    Here’s my book, by the way.
    http://www.bookdepository.com/Summer-Shambles-Ebony-McKenna/9781405249614

    • Stephanie /

      Oh! Thanks for that Ebony–I’ll pop it in the next post. :) (Both covers are beautiful, though!)

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