Saturday, 23 July 2011

What Cover Would You Go For?

What Cover Would You Go For?

You all know the score by now. Every now and then I get the same book given to me by two different publishers and I’m only going to read one of them. Well, I could take it in turns and read a chapter from each but that just feels like a little too much effort just to be fair to both publishers. So yeah, only one copy will be read but what I’ve found interesting is some of the discussion that results from sticking both covers on the blog and asking you folks which one you’d prefer to have on your bookshelf. People will often say that UK covers are generally better than their US counterparts but after a few of these posts I’m not so sure anymore. Today’s covers come from the UK and US editions of ‘The Difference Engine’ by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, check em’ out...

The UK Edition.


I’m not sure if I’d call it an ‘SF Masterwork’ but it has been a while since I’ve read the book (years in fact). Maybe the upcoming re-read will change my mind.
  
The US Edition.

 
The 20th anniversary edition, has it really been that long? Apparently so...
 
And here’s the blurb,

The computer age has arrived a century ahead of time with Charles Babbage's perfection of his Analytical Engine. The Industrial Revolution, supercharged by the development of steam-driven cybernetic Engines, is in full and drastic swing. Great Britain, with her calculating-cannons, steam dreadnoughts, machine-guns and information technology, prepares to better the world's lot ...

Both copies go for the same kind of theme, and both do it very well I think (the eye doesn’t have a lot to do with the plot but you’ve got to love that stare), but the UK edition is a little too bright for me. The US is a darker and more atmospheric piece, just the sort of thing that will catch my eye and get me all intrigued. I’ve also got no idea what the UK cover is meant to be showing us; it’s all very ‘steampunk’ but... what is it? A typewriter isn’t exactly inspiring but at least I know what I’m looking at.

So, the much darker (and yet somehow clearer, how does that work?) US cover wins for me but how about you? What do you think? Comments in the usual place please!

Finally, here’s the cover on the edition that I owned a good ten years ago now. I wouldn’t say that it trumps either of the other two but I was feeling a bit nostalgic so in it goes (sorry about the quality of the picture)...


I can't help but wish I'd had this one instead...


 I think that's enough 'Difference Engine' for one day don't you? ;o) So, UK or US cover but if you have something to say about either of the other two (or the book itself)...

11 comments:

Phillip said...

Of the two I'd say the UK edition. But yes, I agree, the older ones are definitely better.

Dayna said...

I actually love the UK cover except for the SF Masterworks thing that seems to overtake it. Well, and the fact it doesn't reference Cory Doctorow's contribution.

The US cover IS actually, somehow clearer despite the darkness (well phrased) and more informative, but man that eye's sort of disturbing.

(which is where I admit I haven't read this one, and therefore I'm not sure which, if either of them, suit the story best.)

john said...

I like the design of the UK one better but the color is off. I'd have preferred it to be gray or bronze maybe instead then it would be perfect. As it stands I'd have to go with the US one.

Bibliotropic said...

Normally I tend to prefer the UK covers, but in this case, I actually find myself drawn to the US cover. The colours and image are sharper, not exactly eye-catching but certainly smoother and more visially appealing, at least from my standpoint.

S. Leighanne said...

I have to say I'm more partial to the UK edition. In the US edition, the metal eye doesn't flow right with the eyelid and I don't know. Its just off to me.
I've never read this book, but the cover intrigues me!

Hamza said...

I prefer the UK cover. Although, out of all of them my favourite is the last cover.

chasingbawa said...

I haven't read this book yet (although it's been on my wishlist for years) but I think I prefer the US cover.

africalass said...

For me this is a much closer contest than a lot of the double-covers you put on here. Neither one stands out to me as either brilliant or terrible. If I had to pick I'd go for the UK one, as I don't like the way the US one is split in two. Although I would have liked to see Cory Doctorow mentioned on the front, as this would have made a difference in picking it up. In a bookshop I'd happily pick up either.

philnorris63 said...

I'd go for the US cover. And what are the symbols on the typewriter keys, are they significant?

gabrielle said...

funny, i just read this one. i'd go for the uk cover, of the two reissues. the us one seems more like a movie tie-in edition for some reason . . . maybe because it looks like a band cuts the image in two.

Nisa said...

I much prefer the UK cover, as it seems closer aesthetically to the story's Victorian roots. Plus I absolutely adore anything that reminds me of the Victorians.