Suspend Your Disbelief

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U.K. vs. U.S. covers

When British books are published in the United States, and vice versa, publishers don’t generally change the text to cater to their audiences across the pond. Okay, they often adjust the spelling of a few words, like “realise”/”realize” and “practise”/”practice.” And some small punctuation changes occur—British writers tend to put their periods and commas outside quotation marks, Americans within. But these changes are quite minor. There’s one major thing that changes when a book crosses the Atlantic, though: the cover.

The Millions has an interesting analysis of the UK and US covers of the books involved in the 2011 Tournament of Books. For the most part, I think the American covers are stronger and more thought-provoking—a little less direct, a little more evocative. But what differences in audience are the publishers trying to address? (Do they think Americans like circles more, while Brits prefer rectangles, as in the Gary Shteyngart cover?)

Have you seen other covers that differ in the US and UK? Do they fit with this trend?

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