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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ultimate Geek Fu


Have you ever wondered how much difference the cover art really makes? Especially these days, when most books are sold over the Internet: is it really worth the expense, time, and trouble (believe me, they're artists; there's always trouble) of putting a fancy-schmancy color cover on the book? By the time the potential reader actually gets to looking at the listing on Amazon, they already know the author's name and the title, and probably have a fair idea of what's inside the book. Is a nice piece of art on the cover really going to make them any more likely to look at one book over another? And if so, what's the best kind of picture for a hungry publisher to use?

Well, by incredible luck, we have on hand today a perfect test case: the UK and US mass-market printings of the same book. Same authors; same title; same contents; same size and format. Even the artists are as close to evenly matched as is humanly possible.

First up, in this corner, we have the UK edition of Conan the Freebooter, with a cover by the legendary cover artist Frank Frazetta.

And next, in this corner, the challenger: the US edition of exactly the same book, except with a cover by the equally legendary cover artist Boris Vallejo.

If you were to run into these two books somewhere, side by side, which one would you pick up first, and why? Be honest, now. And at first glance, did you also think the title of the US edition was spelled wrong?

Let the arguments begin!

ULTIMAGE GEEK FU runs every Wednesday. Have a question that's just bugging the heck out of you about Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar Gallactica, Farscape, Firefly, Fringe, Heroes, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Smallville, The X-Files, X-Men, The Man From Atlantis, Fireball XL5, Space: 1999, Forbidden Planet, Linux distributions, or pretty much any other even slightly remotely SF-flavored subject that you can remember or imagine? Send it to slushpile@thefridaychallenge.com with the subject line, "Ultimate Geek Fu," and we'll stuff it in the queue.
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