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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, US and UK

Designer credits to come

UPDATE: Several readers have pointed out the series of books of which this is a part. Covers from the Massey Lecture series from 1961 to 2008 can be seen here. Thanks all!

Very different treatments of Margaret Atwood's "study of debt as an ancient and central motif in religion, literature, and the structure of human societies" (from the publisher's Web site). Clearly not a business book, so the UK edition (top) gets closer to what this cover should be.


The US edition (below) looks very much -- too much? -- like a business and finance title:

30 comments:

Ian Brian Shimkoviak said...

the one with the devil shadow is so very clever and wonderful... love the type and illustration.

August said...

The US cover is also the cover here in Canada, and is fairly consistent with the design of the other books in the Massey Lectures series that Anansi has released. It helps, when you see them in person, that the books are smaller than most trade paperbacks.

Parantar said...

great design...

Ingrid Paulson said...

The US cover is actually a derivation of the Canadian cover, which was designed by Bill Douglas at the Bang. He's the designer for all of the Massey Lectures.

Melania Szinger said...

I think the different designs will definitely attract totally different group of people. Wonder if that' the intention.

Melania Szinger
http://wealth-inspiredbooks.blogspot.com/
...inspiring wealth into your life

oglasi said...

wow

Jamie said...

I would be more inclined to buy the UK edition. I'm drawn by very interesting covers to books.

Katie Killary said...

very cool comparison! any chance The Great Gatsby will make it into here? Or one of Jodi Picoult's? It drives me crazy when I see different covers to those books!

tim said...

the image on the top one is awesome, but i dunno about the type… typeface doesn't quite seem right and the layout is a bit forced in there. probably just me though.

Joseph said...

Tim: No, it's not just you. I don't love the subtitle type on the top one either. But the image and the concept make up for it :-)

thumbsUpsmile said...

I love the site and looking at all the different covers! Thanks for the great insight on them.

Juan Pablo Cambariere said...

I love the UK cover, it´s perfect. I love when someone gets to do something like this, I mean, the idea has been done so many times (retorical shadows) but when someone do it in such a delicate and powerfull way it looks completly new.

Nick said...

First is better by far far.
I agree on the second one comment.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the u.s. cover- hands down.

Anonymous said...

The UK cover is thoroughly amateurish.
It looks like a bad mystery novel.

EJ said...

The UK cover looks like its for a novel.

Joseph said...

Anon, ej: maybe the UK does look (more like a) like a novel. But the book isn't a business title (strictly speaking), and that's what the US edition looks like to me.

Buff said...

It's mylife!

Anonymous said...

This is from the publisher's site.

"Atwood proposes that debt is like air - something we take for granted until things go wrong. And then, while gasping for breath, we become very interested in it."

Or until it all inevitably "pops". Simple.

Or if it's more to your taste, until some guy with a few coins in his hand shows up and starts making cheesy hand shadows. yeeesh!

This book is smart. It's not for children.

Joseph said...

Anon 9:56 You don't like the Faustian suggestion of the UK edition at all? I do.

Courtney Baker said...

I really do like the UK edition, but agree about the type--it reads as a mystery novel, and that subtitle is VERY squished above the hand.

Steven Teasdale said...

I very much prefer the UK version with its Faustian overtones. I do not find it childish at all, but stylish and intriging, as well as pleasingly retro.

The US edition does look a bit prosaic in comparison, but as a previous commenter mentioned, I think Anansi chose it to maintain stylistic consistency for its Massey Lectures series.

I'm looking forward to reading this book... it is a fascinating premise!

Adrian from Canada said...

I think the UK edition is more colourful, but the US edition appeals to my interest in non-fiction books with similar-looking almost-blank covers. Books like Freakanomics, Tipping Point, etc., usually get my attention. I guess that's the wonderful thing about book cover design: same product, but different market. In fact, if you were really sneaky, perhaps you could increase your sales in one country by releasing the book under two subject areas with two different covers? (Unless, I'm an idiot, and that isn't possible.)

miumiu said...

I read the description, but still insisted on thinking this is a mystery novel (with themes as described)! I do like the general idea in the UK cover, but with this typeface, it's a bit too much. The US cover, on the other hand, looks too businesy to suit my taste. But it's always interesting to see how a book may be covered in such a different ways---thanks for this post!

Anonymous said...

here's the problem with judging book covers online.
Books are three dimensional "objects" not posters.
Elements like size and texture play an enormous part in the success or failure of any cover.

Payback is part of a series of lectures published yearly. The books have a small trim size (5 x 8) and are all matte laminated. The type treatment on the spines and back covers is classic and understated. These elements and more far remove the Canadian and US designs from looking like standard "business book" fare.

I am unfamiliar with the printed UK version but I'm guessing it's a gloss finish. Nice and shiny.

Joseph said...

anon2:18: Fair enough points. FWIW, I do try to find the book in the store before I post it here, but sometimes that doesn't work out. No idea what my batting average is...

I definitely appreciate the details.

Anonymous said...

Joseph, the Massey covers you supply a link to above are all old out of print covers and are not a part of the new series look. they have all been redesigned.

Joseph said...

anon: oh well, it was a good try. If someone wants to research the current covers and throw them into Flickr or something I'll link to them.

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Anonymous said...

does anybody know who designed the uk cover?