Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Cover Fail: Lacking in Originality

It’s one thing to have vaguely similar art from one publishing house to another (or perhaps in some cases blatant copying of one cover by another house) but the reuse of the same cover art, the same look, perhaps even the same model with some fantastic photoshopping within the same house seems to cry out for some new blood in the cover department: UPDATE: I have been informed that these are two different photoshoots inspired by the same magazine ad which inspired two different editors.

Beverly Jenkins

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Maili
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 10:11:32

    I’m thinking it may be two sets of models in the same photo shooting session, using the same costumes. A tiny budget at work?

    (I can’t get over how much the model on the right looks like Nigella Lawson.)

  2. Jane
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 10:14:42

    @Maili: I would think that a cover shoot would not be less expensive because you are using the same clothes. The major cost of the shoot is the models, right?

  3. Maili
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 10:33:22

    @Jane: Well, I was thinking along the line of using the same studio, photographer, equipment, costumes, etc. on the same day.

    Gah. I need a closer look. Those are too small so *off to google*

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  5. Carin
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 10:39:13

    It’s not just that the photos are so similar – the cover layout is nearly identical. Even the fonts are only slightly different.

  6. Maili
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 10:44:27

    Yeah, I’m definitely in the ‘not photoshopped’ camp.

    Either way, so original of them(!) Sometimes I feel it’s practically a tradition. Avon recycled (still does?) cover art for historical romances almost all the time. The one I remember most is the one that was used at least five times. One of them was Julia Quinn’s ‘Minx’.

  7. Shiloh Walker
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 10:52:09

    freakishly similar but I dunno if they are the same models… and the clothes aren’t the same. Look at the sleeves of the dresses-one has ‘sleeves’ of a sort, the other is more of a chemise. Different fabrics, too, although it’s hard to tell on the smaller images. On the larger images, the white model’s dress has a satin kind of sheen to it.

    The placement of the hands are different, too.

  8. Lindy
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 10:55:38

    Even worse if you hated the first book and pass on buying the second book because the cover gives you the creeps. The one I’m thinking of didn’t even try to make any changes to the 2nd one.

  9. Jennifer Armintrout
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 12:10:30

    Wow, I’m really, really hoping those are different models in similar poses (uninspired cover artist, anyone?) that they might have bought in the same bundle of photos or something. Because if they truly shopped a black couple into a white couple, that’s racefail on top of coverfail.

  10. Ammarylis
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 12:44:00

    WOW. That is just crazy. Everything from the clothes to the poses to-as Carin said- the fonts are similiar. I can’t tell much from the heroes faces since one of them is in shadow, but even the heroines have similar facial features-& hair styles.

    I agree, Jennifer Armintrout. If they pulled a “black face”, that is complete Racefail on top of Coverfail. The latter is sad, unimaginative & sometimes humorous. But the first would be complete bs & make me irate.

  11. Amy
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 13:15:41

    What are you all talking about? Those covers are totally different. One model holds a ROSE.

    (in-house memo from the art department)

  12. Maura
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 14:22:31

    They look like different photos to me based on the way the clothing lies and a few other things (and when you’re talking about THAT much photoshop, wouldn’t it just be easier to take a new photo anyway?) Maybe done in the same photosession, though, while the lighting was already set up?

  13. Lisa Hendrix
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 14:39:55

    Those are similar, but not identical, and I’m not really sure what all the fuss is about anyway. Art recycling has been going on for years. One day my then 4yo laid out a bunch of RTs and said, “They’re all the same.” They were all Pino covers, with that platinum blonde model he used to use, and two were, in fact, nearly identical and clearly painted from the same photo shoot.

    But I have a worse example.

    About 15 years ago, a friend and I were admiring her newly released Regency when we noticed the cover used exactly the same artwork as one of her earlier books: the heroine up a ladder, the hero steadying her as they flirted. One had the ladder out in an orchard, leaning against an apple tree and she had an apple in her hand. The other had them in a library, the ladder up against a bookshelf, and she held a book. The clothes were slightly different, but that and the setting were the only differences. Even her fingers were in the same position. They came out only 2 or 3 years apart, same author, same line. All we could do was wince.

  14. MaryK
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 15:35:09

    Nah, I don’t think they’re the same. The guys have different shoulder lines, and one’s shirt is further off.

    The women are definitely on the same stick-arm diet though.

  15. tehawesomersace
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 16:27:30

    I agree. I think this was photoshopped. Maybe two different shots from the same shoot, but the models look the same to me. Why? Look at the noses.

    I just can’t believe that two women could have the exact same nose. Well, unless they have the same surgeon ;)

  16. Milena
    Oct 01, 2010 @ 04:55:25

    I would say that the similarities between the female models are probably due to an even sadder thing: the need to photoshop all women to one and the same ideal.

  17. Leigh
    Oct 01, 2010 @ 10:20:01

    Personally, I could care less what the cover looks like. I much rather the money go to the author, or decrease the cost of e-books. . .

    Not that I don’t realize that covers attract the attention of readers. . .
    But what inside is the most important thing to me. . .

    If the book looks interesting, or I like the author, I will buy it no matter what the cover looks like

  18. Leigh
    Oct 01, 2010 @ 10:32:25

    P.S. . .

    I much rather a publisher photoshop then raise the prices on books. . .

  19. Tracey Livesay
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 05:17:48

    It’s always interesting to see the cover comparisons, but I don’t notice most covers enough to tell if one copies another.

    Amy- your comment is hilarious! :D

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