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Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Since my last post on “bookalikes” a few weeks ago, I’ve been keeping an eye out for covers that share similar themes or make use of the same sort of visual ideas, and I’ve come across a number of designs that seem to be very much a case of great minds thinking alike. The covers in this post aren’t as obviously “twins” as the ones in the previous post, but they’re definitely siblings, or perhaps cousins at the very least.


Girls (and one guy) lying down: This is probably my least favourite cover trend at the moment–yes, even more so than the girls in dresses trend. These covers are frankly disturbing, and sadly there are plenty more that I haven’t included here. Girls apparently lying injured, helpless, or possibly dead on the ground? Makes me feel so very empowered and valued as a female. An interesting exception is the cover of Undercurrent, which features a male model.

Girls lying down11 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Girls on the vertical: Poison Shy and Revived (review) offer a slightly different take on the above girls-lying-down design in that the entire image is rotated. Interestingly, these covers don’t bother me nearly as much as the ones above: perhaps because we see more of the characters featured in the design, and that they don’t seem as damaged and submissive. The rotated design hints at a world that isn’t as it seems more than it does a powerless girl without any agency of her own.

Girls lying down2 300x208 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Watercolour teacups: Each of these initially started off in my “scribbly font books” file (why yes, scribbly fonts are The Thing at the moment), but I thought that the approach to the teacup motif was similar enough that they might be contenders for a bookalike post. The composition is fairly similar in all of these, as is the use of colour and the background elements.

Scribbly Font books1 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Middle eastern-inspired borders: An elegant if not especially creative motif, these sorts of archway frames can be found all over the place in translated works and books set in places other than the West.

Eastern Inspired borders1 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Stars and constellations: Of these it’s the David Mitchell and Lydia Netzer that I think are closest in design, but I found it interesting that both The Dog Stars and The Age of Miracles kept popping up as suggested purchases along the way. The cover design version of “if you like that, you’ll like this,” I suppose.

constellations1 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Background image showing through text: I have an entire post on these sorts of designs coming up, but I found these two in particular eye-catching in that although the design itself is very similar, colour-wise they’re almost the inverse of each other.

White text over characters Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Freaky picture frames, oh my! I love the design of the Megan Miranda book, but tut-tutted a bit when I came across the very similar design of the Jenny Valentine cover below. Wildwing and The Fine Art of Truth or Dare take a slightly different approach, but it’s hard not to ignore the similarities between these. (Interestingly, Wildwing is the only one where the model’s face isn’t obscured)

Bookalikes 22 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Windswept hair and vivid text: When I came across White Lines it took me a moment to think where I’d seen a similar cover before, and I had to check to see whether it was indeed the exact same image used in the original cover of Justine Larbalestier’s Liar (NB: the Larbalestier cover was changed after publication to better reflect the ethnicity of the protagonist). It wasn’t, but they’re certainly strikingly similar.

Bookalikes 23 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Creepy baby prams: I have read so many books about horrific children this year that I’ve kind of been put off the idea of having kids of my own. These two designs recall a sort of Rosemary’s Baby freakishness for me–interestingly, both use an old-fashioned type of pram.

Bookalikes 21 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Silhouettes against a dark sky: Although The Uninvited is the odd one out here in that it doesn’t feature a rooftop, it certainly shares the creepy child silhouette motif, and there’s a good deal of similarity in the colours used:

Bookalikes 29 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Incidentally, every time I see the cover of We Saw At Night I for some reason think of Robert Cormier’s We All Fall Down, which isn’t especially similar, but obviously jogs some sort of memory in me. Given the subject matter of the Cormier, it could probably easily be rejacketed with the other cover design:

Bookalikes 210 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Tigers: These two aren’t so similar in design (although they do share part of a pretty similar image) but every single time I see The Orphan Master’s Son I immediately assume that it’s Vaillant’s The Tiger (which is brilliant, by the way)

Bookalikes 25 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Girls in a forest looking over their shoulder: Yeah, these two are pretty similar, what with the curved forest in the background and the girl-looking-back thing. Poison looks a little more lively, though, thanks to the colour in the forest and the typography, whereas Wolf Pact seems to be a pretty standard YA paranormal read.

Bookalikes 26 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Greyscale lovers and aqua fonts: The background image of these two covers is pretty similar, and each time I see them I wonder whether they’re part of a series.

Bookalikes 27 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

Cover model twins: The lovely Ebony McKenna, author of the Ondine series (which you should go and read, because it’s great) pointed out in our last bookalikes post that her first book has a twin, and explained that the costs of purchasing exclusive use of an image can be prohibitive to some smaller publishing outfits. Although the cover model is obviously the same, I think that these cover designs are different enough that it’s not immediately noticeable. What do you think?


Bookalikes 24 Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike


  1. Bookalikes: more cases of book designer minds thinking alike

  2. Interesting! I don’t pay a lot of attention to cover design, but I’m going to start being more aware.

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks, Laurie! I’m always interested to see how particular books are “branded” in a certain way to show how they fit into various subgenres, and also to help identify them as comparable with other authors. I do think this is something that’s going to change as people begin to shop more online, though–the cover won’t be the first thing that we see any more. Interestingly, cover designs really are quite new: it wasn’t that long ago that most books were leather bound with tooled titles and a border design, but not that much more. Judging a book by its cover must be a pretty new phenomenon!

  3. I think it’s really interesting how certain more popular genres really pull from one another when it comes to cover design. I wonder if it’s a lot of the same people who do these covers. Is it a subconscious thing or do they do it because they know it’ll sell? I’ve always kind of wondered about that.

    • Stephanie /

      I think there are probably a few factors involved, and I definitely agree that one of them must surely be ensuring that a particular book “fits in” with other books in a particular genre or subgenre. Other factors probably include things such as budget–as Ebony mentioned in the post, it can be expensive to commission a photoshoot or to pay for exclusive rights to an image–and also the particular market that’s been targeted. US markets seem to prefer photographic covers, for example, whereas UK covers tend to feature iconic designs. Australia gets a mix of the two.

      I’m going to see if I can line up an interview with a designer and get some answers for you!

  4. Hi Stephanie,
    thanks for the Ondine shout-out :-D
    Book design is such a tricky thing. I’m having a play with textures and colours at the moment and … wow, it’s so easy to get it all very, VERY wrong.
    I think the designs of these covers are really strong. I especially like archways and doorways, as these evoke transition.

    Ooooh, how about bridges on covers? (another transition metaphor).

    • Stephanie /

      My pleasure, Ebony!

      I know what you mean about design: it is really tough, particularly when you’re designing to a certain audience who may have different ideas about aesthetics, or to suit a particular size or format. You definitely have a great point about these designs being visually very strong, and there’s no doubt in my mind why they are so popular. Interestingly, one of my friends just commented that the cover of RJ Palacio’s Wonder makes her think of A Clockwork Orange, which shows just how iconic a particular design (Alex’s false-lashed eye) can be!

      Good call on the bridges! I’ll see what I can come up with. :)

  5. Oh! Absolutely, the one eye with the mega-false eyelash is so Clockwork Orange! I can see it straight away. Then again, I have a copy of that book on my shelves (somewhere) so it’s something that I’m familiar with. The book is … 40 years old? Maybe older? I think it’s OK to have another false eyelash in 40 years. Shall we also see the iconing bowler hat?

    Bridges on covers – I recommend Tahmima Anam’s A Golden Age (The Canongate 2012 re-issue.) Absolutely GLORIOUS cover. I saw it in the newspaper a few months back, fell in love with the cover and had to have the book. Didn’t even know what the book was about. It was a stunning read, by the way.

    • Stephanie /

      I’m imagining a would-be bestseller just emblazoned with all of these iconic images from famous books now. A false eyelash on a whale or something…

      The A Golden Age cover is absolutely stunning…and actually reminds me a lot of Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson!


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