Thursday, 1 January 2015

A Tale of Two Covers

One lights up the room... the other doesn't
Book covers are emotional things to an author. However much we might be encouraged not to judge a book by its cover, the fact is that everyone does. And while some publishers are enlightened enough to give their authors a say in the covers (my UK publisher Icon is particularly good at this), in the end an author is generally at the mercy of the designer and what the publisher is happy with.

Generally speaking I've been pretty lucky with my covers, but one has always struck me as a bit of disaster, which was the cover of the Macmillan version of my first popular science book, Light Years. It's dull and murky, and if it were ever face forward on a shelf it would appear pretty much blank if your nose wasn't pressed hard against it. You can see what they were trying to do by spelling out the title with star fields... it just doesn't work.

Now I'm delighted to say that that Light Years is being republished by Icon, with a design that fits in with my other five Icon titles in their latest editions - and suddenly it's a joy. A cover that jumps off the shelf at you.

It's out on Kindle on 1 January and as a p-book a week later. If you've already got a copy, frankly, it's not worth getting the new one. It has an appendix that was dropped from the original version of the book, which has some of the original documents (like Newton's letter on Light and Colour) that are referred to in the text, but that's about it. (On the other hand, if you haven't got a copy, take a look!)

It might seem a trivial thing, but that change of cover has transformed the book from something I used to hide in the corner on my bookstall after a talk to something that will be centre stage.

Happy New Year!

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