Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8; City Watch #1) Guards! Guards! discussion


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Why does America have boring covers...

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message 1: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline George Why does America have such boring covers for its Terry Pratchett books? If you look them up on amazon.co.uk, you will find the English covers are much more interesting, with all sorts of characters, colours, themes.

Why would the American distributors get so boring? Is the cover artist the boss's niece?


message 2: by Meh (new) - rated it 3 stars

Meh No idea. The books are dang hilarious, though...


Amanda I have books with both types of covers. I actually like the plainer ones a tiny better. What's really important is the wacky goodness inside.
Terry Pratchett is one of my favorites, his worst book is better and funnier than almost anyone else's best book. Tom Holt is up there in the running, but I love the way the Discworld novels are loosely but coherently connected.

(I like your idea about the artist being the boss's niece - that's probably true in more cases than we want to think. I used to work in a book store and after a while you could tell which books were by the same cover designer jsut by scanning the shelves. Some designers tend to use the same colors, fonts and styles over and over.)


Heather In America Pratchett is published by Harper. In Britain, Corgi is the publisher with covers by Josh Kirby. Kirby has now passed on, and the newer Pratchett novels are equally boring in both countries.


Morganlise I too prefer the plainer covers, probably because I, as an American, read all of the plain-covered books and developed my own mental images of what the characters look like, and, as talented as Mr. Kirby was, his illustrations don't match what I imagined.

Also, and I don't know if anyone else has observed this or if it's just my friends, but I'd say the majority of Americans have an aversion to anything labeled "fantasy". It has definite "uber-dork" overtones, (not that I mind, of course!). The simpler covers don't scream "fantasy dork", which probably makes them more palatable for American readers.

Am I alone in thinking that? I can't tell you how many people I've recommended the wonderful works of Terry Pratchett to who, despite any initial interest, were immediately turned off once I mentioned that his work technically is fantasy.


message 6: by Ed (last edited Dec 02, 2011 03:13AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ed C I think there are actually 3 types of covers:

1) The original Josh Kirby art (which is fantastic) and the newer artist who tookover (who is also really good, it might be Paul Kidby who often does artwork for Pratchett since Kirby died). These are still the ones usually available in first publication.

2) The new covers that are mostly black with poignant objects from the stories slapped in the middle, which I don't like at all. These are only for the newwer reprints.

3) The American covers, which Goodreads seems to often default to, which seem simplistic and odd to me.

I've been buying Discworld novels in the UK since the late 80s and I'd never switch types of cover. For one thing it would spoil the flow of my massive collection... It's full art for me, in the theme of Josh Kirby, or nothing! :)


Sherin Punnilath Yeah.. this cover was a let down.
The copy I read had this same cover(I'm from India).

The covers of Tiffany Aching series were pretty nice,though..


Meredith Granted, I've only seen the UK covers in a smaller, online version, but for me the look visually busy. To me, the US covers have a clean look I like. Also, because they've been keeping up that same style, I can spot a Pratchett book at twenty paces. :)


Darren I hadn't noticed it before. The full cover painting versions are easily better. I've found myself holding the book and turning it around in delight at the artwork on the cover many times on alot of pratchett.


message 11: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy The covers are noticably less interesting since Thief Of Time. Is that when Kirby died?


message 13: by Victoria (new) - added it

Victoria Oh, YES! Those Jack Kirby covers are fantastic. I had the great good fortune to live just outside London 1994-1997. Forbidden Planet was my favorite stop on trips into the city and I collected a wonderful array of Pratchett paperbacks there. The covers for Anne McCaffrey's PERN books I picked up were great, too. Don't remember the artist's name, but they were incredibly detailed.


message 14: by Alessandra (last edited Jun 12, 2012 07:54PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alessandra Heather wrote: "In America Pratchett is published by Harper. In Britain, Corgi is the publisher with covers by Josh Kirby. Kirby has now passed on, and the newer Pratchett novels are equally boring in both count..."

I disagree. Most of the more recent Discworld art is by Paul Kidby, who is a genius (this, for example). Kidby's work perfectly captures the discworld.

Paul Kidby is not to.be confused with Josh Kirby, who did indeed illustrate the earliest Discworld books. Kirby was known for his oleaginous style, his unattractive, unappealing humans, and his lack of accuracy to the character descriptions within the books. Kirby's dwarves were beardless, his women talon-clawed and usually half-clad, and his witches hags no matter what the books said.

The switch to Paul Kidby's work was a real improvement, in my opinion.

Unfortunately, the US editions never saw fit to use the great British covers. They were always some abstract design or other, something which appeared to be trying to pretend these books had nothing to do with the fantasy genre.

The last couple of books have been better. They actually used Paul Kidby's art on the cover of the US edition of "Snuff."


message 15: by Alessandra (last edited Jun 13, 2012 04:44PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alessandra I almost forgot about the jaw-droppingly awful cover of "Wyrd Sisters" by Darrell K. Sweet.

EDIT: Link fixed. But not lynx. Although I think that's supposed to be Greebo.


message 16: by Alan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alan I like the illustrated covers, which are full of humor.


message 17: by Barb (new) - added it

Barb Covers seem to be important to me too


Badgerlord Ed wrote: "I think there are actually 3 types of covers:

1) The original Josh Kirby art (which is fantastic) and the newer artist who tookover (who is also really good, it might be Paul Kidby who often does..."


I quite like the mainly black covers. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though.


message 19: by Badgerlord (last edited Sep 04, 2012 02:57AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Badgerlord Barb wrote: "Covers seem to be important to me too"

I agree. Covers are important. In fact, even the phrase 'Don't judge a book by its cover,' annoys me. What am I meant to do? Read the entire book and then go, 'no, I was right. That was awful'? I'm the first to admit I might miss really good books, but I'm also saving myself a lot of time. Sorry if I'm ranting, I tried to keep it short.


message 20: by Mitali (last edited Sep 12, 2012 12:47PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mitali Alessandra wrote: "The switch to Paul Kidby's work was a real improvement, in my opinion."

I agree. Kirby's covers were interesting in their vibrancy, but definitely not attractive (ugh, all his women were dreadful). Kidby's covers are simply wonderful, and usually have a much larger meaning. For example, his cover of Night Watch - one of my favourite book covers ever - is both a really cool cover in itself, and a gentle parody of the famous painting by Rembrandt of the same name (see both the cover and the painting on this page: http://www.terrypratchett.co.uk/forum... - scroll down a bit).


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

I just wish they would keep the same style across the entire series. I've got the whole lot sitting on one shelf, all bought as they came out in paperback, and there are now 3 different styles of spine there. I've avoided the dismal black ones, but it doesn't make for a nice, uniform looking shelf. And, no, I'm NOT about to go and buy the entire series again, just so the shelf looks nice...

I would agree that Kirby's covers don't always match the descriptions of the characters, but that's not to say they aren't great fun. but I'd agree with Mitali about the Kidby covers, they quite clever as well as good to look at.


Arthur Daigle The cover art is very simple, but that might be to save money. After all, Pratchett has a large following who will read whatever he writes (and with good reason). Why spend money hiring a talented artist when the buyers will come regardless?
As an aside, I've read plenty of books with magnificent cover art and garbage writing inside, so I take good cover art with a grain of salt.


Ellen Benefield Dirk wrote: "The Corgi version 'The Light Fantastic' by Josh Kirby"
Fun cover.


S.A.A. Calvert Sometimes books have been offered with plainer covers so that 'adults' aren't embarrassed to be seen reading them. I believe that was the case with the Potter books.

The red-face factor was echoed by an idiot of a literary snob who had clearly never read any Pratchett, for he said "Adolescent masturbatory fantasy like Terry Pratchett"

Mind you, another snob described TP's work as being for the "fucntionally illiterate"


message 25: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Ezell My first experiences with Terry Pratchett books were the SFBC releases, omnibuses of the first few Rincewind books and one of a few of the one-off stories like "Pyramids" and "Small Gods." One thing I can distinctly remember about those books was the gorgeous cover art that really helped to attract the reader to the books.

I agree, the American paperback covers are rather boring, and it seems to be a trend perpetuated even with TP's non-Discworld work, like Good Omens. I'm not sure why that is.


message 26: by Anna (new) - added it

Anna I think two major factors that might have influenced the change of cover for the American books.

The first is that the change in publishers may have meant the deal with that certain artist would have been dropped. The second is that (as Morganlise said) there's a bit of a stigma in America about fantasy novels.

Fantasy novels (except for the trending supernatural romance subgenre) are generally seen as silly, like they're somehow substandard compared to other literature. And it's not far fetched to say anyone carrying around a book with a cover like the originals would get a few raised eyebrows. (I think it's dumb, I love the original covers. But it happens). I think it's possible the US publishers might have been afraid that sales wouldn't be as good, and decided to go in a different direction. They may have been right, though. I don't know about you folks over the pond, but Americans, sadly, absolutely do judge a book by it's cover.


Steven This article has some good points highlighting the ways the US and UK differ when it comes to cover design. Being American I can verify that it is a major pain trying to find UK versions of Pratchett's books for my collection. I find the American covers just as dull as you do and sometimes the design element they choose to focus on doesn't really match the book. If you have any Discworld books with awesome UK covers you would like to get rid of then please let me know.

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Niels Bugge Amanda wrote: "Terry Pratchett is one of my favorites, his worst book is better and funnier than almost anyone else's best book. Tom Holt is up there in the running, but I love the way the Discworld novels are loosely but coherently connected."

Never heard of Tom Holt, but the books seem interesting... any recommendations on where to start?
(Btw. I really don't like Jasper Fforde's nursery crimes, partly because I'm not into detective stories, and partly because I'm not a native english speaker and have no relationship to English language childrens stuff).


Niels Bugge On topic, I've heard most of the Discworld novels on audio, and tend to look away from the extremely weird and cartoonish covers, because I simply don't think they do justice to the characters' personalities.


Amanda Niels wrote: "Amanda wrote: "Terry Pratchett is one of my favorites, his worst book is better and funnier than almost anyone else's best book. Tom Holt is up there in the running, but I love the way the Discworl..."

My first Tom Holt was "Expecting Someone Taller". He has the same sort of non-sensational acceptance of wackiness that Pratchett does, but set in a world almost completely like this one. Except, you know, where it's not. In Expecting Someone Taller, a dull-but-nice man runs over a badger, only to find himself in the middle of a battle for a ring. You know, THAT ring, the one made out of the Rhinemaiden's gold. He's got it, all kinds of gods and other dodgy sorts want it.


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