US publishing has some beautiful book covers, and in the last decade in particular (thanks to social media), design has become such a focal point in the marketing of a book. A good book cover can sell a mediocre book, just as a mediocre cover can tank a really great book.
For readers, covers are works of art that can be thoughtfully curated on shelves. There are specific editions of books collectors seek — I, for example, love the beautiful and minimal Harper Perennial Olive editions — and thanks once again to social media, more readers know about the covers of their favorite books showing up in other countries. Looking at international editions is fun, but many of these international editions, despite not being on shelves in US bookstores, are pretty easy to acquire.
Let’s take a gander at some beautiful editions of beloved books, as well as aesthetically pleasing editions of newer titles that you might be familiar with. I’m purposefully not including book descriptions here, as this is 100% about the covers, and more, even though this is about the covers, because it’s hard enough to track down cover artist information in the US, those aren’t included for international editions, either. I’m eager for the day when sharing this information can be standard within the US, let alone when it’s standard globally for publishing (a person can dream).
All links will take you right to these specific book covers so you can add to your own growing collections.
Beautiful Book Covers for Your Favorite Books
I love that this edition of The Complete Alice by Lewis Carol offers some of the classic iconography from the book (and subsequent films) but then it adds a twist by using blue as its primary color, rather than red. This is part of the Puffin Classics line. $15.
The most familiar edition of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, featuring a profile of main character Janie is pretty iconic, no question. But how stunning is this take on the cover? It’s part of the VMC Designer collection and there are a number of great covers of beloved books within it (it’s hard not to be smitten with this look for Strangers on a Train!). $22.
Adam Silvera’s History Is All You Left Me has a cover that fits nicely within trends in contemporary YA in the US. His books have gotten some stellar treatment in the UK though, including this beautiful water-themed design. The way the blurbs are worked into the waves is clever. $11.
Speaking of the sea, this cover for Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is chilling. The US edition is memorable, and this one sitting beside it really captures the feeling of the book. $12.
Talk about a cover that makes you swoon.. This take on The Song of Achilles is perfect for the mythological read. $29.
The US edition of Pachinko is one readers who keep an eye on highly-acclaimed reads would be able to identify. But how about this edition? This is the one I might be picking up to read before the adaptation drops. $14
The Collins Modern Classics editions might be best summed up as designed with vibes in mind. Does this take on The Virgin Suicides not scream fringe/outsiders + 70s design aesthetic? $12.
Just translated into English in 2021, Genzaburo Yoshino’s beloved How Do You Live was packaged for YA audiences in the US. It’s a nice cover and fitting for the story. The UK cover, though, is such a different imagining of the story and gives much more of an adult feel to it. $20.
There are no fewer than 500 different cover designs for any of Jane Austen’s books, and there’s even an entire line dedicated to giving them a unique package. This edition of Pride and Prejudice is part of that Vintage Classics Austen Series. It’s a beauty. $12.
It’s been almost 10 years since the “outrage” over the sexy cover for Anne of Green Gables popped up. One reason this title, as well as books like Austen’s, are among those that get so many cover treatments is that they’re in the public domain and readily available for repacking without jumping through many copyright-related hoops. While that’s an issue when those covers become sexy, it’s a boon for readers when they get a deluxe design. Meet Anne of Green Gables, part of the Seasons Editions (this happens to be fall/autumn).
Last, but definitely not least, is this pitch-perfect edition of The Secret Garden. It’s part of Chiltern Classic line, which includes other beautiful, classic designs for world literature. $26.