#SPFBO 5 Cover Contest

Cover Contest


SFF and Queerness – We Need To Do Better

SFF and Queerness – We Need To Do Better


5th Annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off: An Introduction

5th Annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off

SPFBO #5: An Introduction


New Game of Thrones Covers (UK)

The UK’s largest bookstore chain revealed this week that they have decided to give George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series a brand new look. The brief Waterstones gave to designers was rather open and basically allowed the design team to follow their own initiative, the covers were to be ‘beautiful, epic and … hint at the world George R. R. Martin has created’.

Richard Augustus, the senior designer for the project explains that: “George’s books cover so much – family, relationships, politics, war – and we wanted the new look to reflect this epic scale. A key part of the brief was that the books should also appeal to readers who may have heard of or seen Game of Thrones, the HBO show based on the series, but aren’t familiar with the books yet.”

Here is the result:


I have to say that I’m not so sure that Waterstones have pulled of what they’ve looked to achieve here? To me, the books look like they are trying very hard to distance themselves from the fantasy genre; so much so that they actually end up looking almost like non-fiction self-help books or travel guides. Many, many years ago Game of Thrones had a Robert Jordan-esque cover (below left). Some marketing professional must have then realised that this book would likely appeal to historical fantasy fans, so took away the fantasy elements of the covers and made them plainer (below centre) and when Game of Thrones was televised they gave the books new covers so that fans of the show would recognise the books (below right).

GOT-JordanGOT-Historical (Medium)GOT-TV

I always feel bad criticising, or not being able to appreciate, an artists work, because it is obvious a lot of work went into designing them: “From start to finish, the covers took around four months to complete and it was very much a team effort, with four designers contributing to the final designs. We produced dozens of visuals before settling on the final covers – playing around with different shots, the scale of the images, looking at wide open landscapes or focusing down onto intriguing details. We then started to think specifically about how the type should work, how it might need to be adapted to work on eBook, and what the finishes would be on the physical edition.”

To take my favourite cover of the lot, the one for the first book, A Game of Thrones, I just don’t see that it does the Epic scale of the series justice:


To me, those rocky mountains don’t seem to suggest much in the way of action, adventure, politics, twists or turns. They just seem to be mountains – certainly there is no hint of the scale of the wall or the fact that within these mountains are White Walkers building in strength.

All that in mind, I’m aware that covers are a very personal thing. A cover I can’t appreciate, another may find intriguing and truly irresistible. Additionally, I guess it won’t hurt the series any, because these covers are set to be published alongside the existing ones rather than replace them. For those who are interested, they’ll be out on 27th of March and can be pre-ordered on Waterstones Online of by going into a store directly.



  1. Avatar Ellie says:

    My main problem is that the title isn’t very clear on most of them (first and last being the exceptions). I think its success has proved it appeals to people who wouldn’t normally pick up fantasy, so this might be aiming for that market.

  2. Avatar Aprella says:

    I don’t really like the new covers. The fantasy has been drawn out of them and they are actually rather static and in a way peaceful, which the series isn’t at all.I like the plain ones the best.

  3. Avatar Jaedia says:

    I see what they were trying to do but don’t believe they were entirely successful. What they already had in the plainer covers and the televised covers did the job just fine. These? I wouldn’t pick them up if I didn’t know what they were, and likely would look for a different cover style if I did. They’re boring. The Clash of Kings cover puts me in mind of Paul Coelho’s The Alchemist cover, if memory serves me right?

  4. Avatar Eleri says:

    They say travel guide to me too. And weirdly sterile travel guides at that.

  5. Avatar AJ Zaethe says:

    I have disliked the covers since they changed them from the original. They looked boring and dull, but these? They take the cake in dull.

  6. Avatar Hobbs says:

    Publishers will do whatever they can do sell a book and someone in the industry thought this was a good idea. If they can pull in an extra 1000 people that thought it was a travel book, it was probably worth it.

  7. Avatar Overlord says:

    Responses to my Tweet, where I wrote: “Would love to hear everyones opinion on the new ‘Game of Thrones’ Covers. I’m just not sure…”

    Annie Bellet
    Yeah, those covers are pretty boring/awful. I think they failed to capture ANY of the contents, pretty much.

    Charlie Olsen
    This SoIF redesign seems to come from the same conceptual space [as new Dune covers]. Not bad but pretty bland.

    Landon Wall
    hate them. The covers are pretty meaningless.

    This is the first time I’m seeing them. I think they’re aesthetically pleasing, but not quite right for the series.

    Joe Monti
    Not a fan. Looks like a big box store collection of public domain classics.

    P Nielsen Hayden
    I’m pretty sure I could write you a script of the meeting where they decided these were a good idea. @FantasyFaction

    I love them but I’m a bit of an ‘original snob’. You can never been the first publication covers in my own opinion 🙂

    Michael Stearns
    As is so often the case, the UK covers miss the target in a really boring way. Kind of sad, to be honest.

    Michael Diack
    @FantasyFaction I think the landscape covers are beautiful but the city ones border on travel-guides. Regardless, they’re still gonna sell!

    @FantasyFaction They look like a bad photoshop job. And since the text is right over the pictures it can make it hard to read.

    Westeros Indonesia
    Look like travelogue

    Unsung Stories
    They make a nice set. Take the point re not being for SFF fans, but given it’s everywhere post-HBO maybe that’s the point?

    Morgan A. Pryce
    They do have a bit of that “covers for people who’d be embarrassed to be seen with a fantasy book on the bus” air.

    Aoife Roantree
    To me, they look specifically designed to appeal to a non genre-reading audience..

    They do have a bit of that “covers for people who’d be embarrassed to be seen with a fantasy book on the bus” air.

    Cameron Johnston
    I’m not a fan of these ‘not reading fantasy, honest ‘guv’ covers. Pretty enough I guess, but bland and forgettable.

    Me neither, they look like travel guide books ‘Visit Westeros’.

    Honestly I liked the original Fantasy Style covers the most.

    Ron Walters
    They kind of look like they belong in a self-help section, with Yanni or Enya playing in the background.

    E.E. Richardson
    They do have a bit of that “covers for people who’d be embarrassed to be seen with a fantasy book on the bus” air
    But then, after umpteen editions that genre-readers can’t fail to be aware of, maybe that’s a sensible marketing move?

    Sean Patrick Ward
    I don’t really like those but I’d take ugly covers on #6 & #7 without complaint if they were available…

    The Red Devil
    I agree. My first thought was that they look like travel guides. Wouldn’t draw me in if I didn’t know the books.

  8. Avatar Samuel S. B. says:

    I agree with you. I appreciate the hard-work of the artists but it just does not cut it for me. It makes it look more like a paranormal romance or something thereabouts. No offense, but the first cover and the one that followed the release of season 1 of the TV show will be the best to me…

  9. Avatar John WIswell says:

    I agree with you that there is no conveyence of epic scale in these covers. A desert? A lake? This art could fit so many mainstream novels. However, I’m fine with a later printing having generic mainstream art. It allows some borderline Fantasy readers who are in social situations where they feel awkward about their interest to feel more comfortable indulging. At the same time, the new wave of covers can’t erase what the series obviously is, and especially thanks to the popularity of the show, anyone who reads the titles will have a decent chance of recognizing what’s inside.

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