Cover Story: The Fair Fight, by Anna Freeman

Why do the UK versions of books get better covers than the American version? My latest evidence are the two covers of Anna Freeman’s The Fair Fight.

On the left is the American version, by Riverhead Books. On the right, you’ll see the UK version by Orion.

The American version, I thought, was too pretty for the character and story between the book’s covers. When I first read the description of Ruth Webber, I flipped back to the cover and felt some annoyance on Ruth’s behalf. The woman on the cover, with the part of her smile visible near the top, is not who Ruth is. The woman on the cover is flirty. Ruth is decidedly not flirty. The city depicted, too, is too remote for the Bristol in the novel. Our views of Bristol are always down in the streets, in the bad parts of town. It’s a nice enough cover, but it’s not accurate.

The UK edition, however, has a feistiness to it, a scrappiness that most of its characters share. It’s rough and violent, just like The Fair Fight‘s characters. Plus, it’s oodles more interesting than the American cover.

The American edition also has another problem that I’ve gotten more and more annoyed about in recent years. I am tired of seeing woman on book covers with their heads chopped off. I know they don’t show faces on covers much because the designers and publishers don’t want to interfere with a reader’s imagination. Still, it bothers me. This truncation makes visiting through bookstores feel like walking through the Reign of Terror.


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