Let’s Get Lit-erary: Book cover reboots 

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Every so often, books will get cover reboots; sometimes these redesigns elevate the book and other times they are entirely unnecessary. While changes in cover designs are likely a marketing strategy aimed at selling more copies, the reception varies. New readers are likely indifferent, but fans either jump at the opportunity to add new covers to their collection or scour the internet in search of an out-of-print copy. 

Let’s take a look at some books that have recently undergone a cover reboot:  

“Divergent” by Veronica Roth  

Luckily, the “Divergent” series is still sold with its original covers, but a fun 10th-anniversary edition was released in 2021. The new set is exclusively sold in paperback and creates an image of post-apocalyptic Chicago when lined up next to each other. The cover of the first book is especially striking, as it features the scene where Tris jumps onto the Dauntless train along with the Centennial Wheel in the background.  

While the updated covers do lose the faction symbols, the original covers never featured every symbol in the first place; Abnegation, Erudite and Candor were all missing. Ultimately, the new covers are cohesive, hinting at themes of desolation and brewing resistance in a way that perfectly embodies the nature of dystopian literature.  

“Percy Jackson & the Olympians” by Rick Riordan  

This series has gone through its fair share of cover reboots. However, I will always stand by the original covers; the illustrations were classic and each book had a distinguishable color palette. The cover of “The Sea of Monsters” did an incredible job depicting Percy and his friends crossing the bridge under a cyclops’ watchful stare.  

The covers were first rebooted in 2014 and while they featured the same primary plot elements, the color palettes were all the same. This, in addition to the titles being shrunk down, made it difficult to tell which book was which.  

In preparation for the upcoming Disney+ adaptation, Riordan’s novels received yet another reboot in May of 2022. In my eyes, the redesign was a flop. It feels “trendy” and impersonal; not once was Percy featured on the covers. The spines are somewhat appealing though, with each featuring a Greek god or goddess atop a stone column.  

“Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer 

The images on the original “Twilight” covers were cryptic enough: a torn piece of ribbon, a “bleeding” flower and a chess piece. The apple presumably cupped by Edward on the cover of “Twilight” also felt disconnected from the other covers, which featured objects on their own. While the chosen objects have symbolic value, they aren’t the best indicators of each book’s plotlines. However, their stark contrast from the black background is a notable feature. In fact, the “Crave” series by Tracy Wolff, also featuring vampires, mimics the aesthetic on its covers.  

The “Twilight” cover reboot should have aimed to address the aforementioned issues, but instead only adds to the confusion. They feature the same key objects, but the typography is enlarged and titles are split up without rhyme or reason. “New Moon” remains normal, but the letter “i” in “Twilight” and “Eclipse” are cut off, while it appears to be whole in “Breaking Dawn.” These cover reboots were completely uncalled for.  

“The Summer I Turned Pretty” by Jenny Han  

The original covers of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” featured real people on the cover — an act that seems cringe-worthy, but was fairly typical of its time. As a general rule, using models on the covers of fiction novels should be avoided. That way, it doesn’t take away the magic of using your imagination to envision characters. Some readers even fan-cast actors as characters.  

The redesigned version of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” cover fixes this issue and uses a cute font and beachy colors to retain the YA feel. Each cover features a few shells, but is otherwise nondescript. Though they don’t say much about the plot, they are definitely an upgrade from the original covers.  

In a rare occurrence; however, the television tie-in cover takes the cake. While not technically a cover reboot, I find this version of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” the most appealing. The color scheme and typography is clean and simple — appealing to a slightly older audience. While it does feature actors from the Prime Video adaptation of the series, they don’t take up enough room for their presence to be distracting. The image of them running down Cousins Beach sets the scene without being overly flashy.  

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