Sarah Dessen Week: The Cover Change

We’re almost to the end of Sarah Dessen Week on the FifteenThousandPages blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have!

Today is going to be a slightly different post about Dessen and her work. I know I’ve done a bunch of the “listicle” things this week. But today I want to talk about Sarah Dessen’s cover art and how it’s evolved over the years I’ve been reading her (and before!).

When I first started reading Sarah Dessen, her covers looked like this:

In 2012, likely when they were designing The Moon and More, which came out in 2013, however, she and her team decided to give her library a makeover. Now, her books look like this:

Now, if I’m honest, before i just looked at these pictures side to side, I thought the covers has DRASTICALLY OMG CHANGED. Now, they still look very Dessen. Her name is bigger and bolder – because let’s be honest, she’s the real draw.

The big thing people talk about when they talk about Sarah Dessen is summer. Dessen is the queen of summer reading and writing. Did her old covers reflect that? Some of them certainly did. I think new covers represent that aspect more – even in her books that aren’t actually set in summer. While I was doing some scouting for this post, I came across this blog post by The Novel Hermit that actually talks about the cover change between Along for the Ride. It breaks down the differences and highlights what she likes and doesn’t about each. (Picture below is from her blog).

These two very much keep the same theme of the bike. But some of them change pretty drastically. Look at the difference between the covers for her book, Someone Like You.

Which do you prefer here? The left certainly focuses on the character element of the book, while the right focuses on the composition. The gradient of color in Dessen’s name is great, and in this case, I do actually think I prefer the simple, all lower case font on the right than the changing font on the left. However, I think that emphasis on “Someone” really matters. Even with the original, however, I’m just not sure if either handle the subject matter enough for my personal taste. I can’t lie, I love the butterflies though.

And these covers aren’t even set in stone! Dessen’s newest, the reason for Sarah Dessen Week, is something like we’ve never seen from a Dessen cover before – and I love it.

There’s a different title font, and Dessen’s name isn’t as bold here. But it’s certainly striking. The colors are incredible.

For my final “rankings” of the “new” vs. “old” cover battle, I think I’d have to go book-by-book:
That Summer: Old – it just captures the right essence.
Someone Like You: New – I like butterflies!
Keeping the Moon: Old – it has the right elements for the book.
Dreamland: Old – this gives the right vibe for the tone of the story. I wish new included a camera.
This Lullaby: New – I appreciate it playing to the importance of music.
The Truth About Forever: Old – I just don’t get the bracelet on the new. Old plays to the idea of choices in the right way.
Just Listen: Tie – both have the right elements. New just feels updated with the headphones and leaving out an old iPod.
Along for the Ride: New – it makes it seem like it’s really Auden’s journey.
Lock & Key: Old – I actually love the new cover for this one on a purely objective level, but the old one fits the story more.
What Happened to Goodbye: New – wasn’t a huge fan of the original cover. I prefer the colors on this one. Less dead space.

**I’m not listing The Moon and More here, despite the fact that it got a new cover for its paperback release this year. It was the same “new” style each time. Saint Anything only has one cover, so it can’t really be included.**

So that’s 5 votes for the old covers, 4 for the new, and 1 tie. Pretty even all around, with a slight nod to my original readings. I like the new direction, however.

Ultimately, what I do really love about the newer colors is that I feel they’re a bit cleaner, and show more of a united front in terms of design. While the subjects of the covers feel simpler (younger?), and not necessarily as relevant to the book topic – Keeping the Moon not having sunglasses still is a serious loss in my personal opinion – they feel like they’re actually geared more toward Dessen’s older readers, the ones who have grown up with her books and will never not buy them. They’re sleeker, a little more streamlined. Still, because I feel that the subject matter isn’t really represented fantastically in all of them, I’m not sure if I prefer the change. Even with the more abstract ones – take Dreamland, for example – the original seems more abstract in the right way than the newer. Is that possible? Well, I guess for me it is!

There are so many different things to discuss when talking about the cover of a book. Which is the most important element? Is it representing the subject of the book? Or is it the author’s name? Is it simply the title? I’m not sure I can answer those questions. I think, ultimately, the cover of a book needs to grab you. Everyone judges by the cover; that’s just a fact. And I think, overall, Dessen’s new covers – including the slightly different Saint Anything – give that extra umph – that little something that makes you see the book on a crowded shelf and go “oh, that looks cool.”

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments which covers you prefer!

2 thoughts on “Sarah Dessen Week: The Cover Change

  1. I think ultimately I liked the old covers, but the new ones are gorgeous (especially the ones that have models in them posing, really captures the feels in the book). And I agree that I don’t really understand some of the new ones especially The Truth About Forever (that old cover was beautiful anyway). I am in love with Saint Anything’s look, the book is great too. I would even add Mac to your list of Dessen boys on your other post. 😉


    1. Mac was really, really great. It’s totally possible he climbs in to the top 5 after another read through. But yeah – the randomness of some of the new covers was a little offputting to me, but they’re sooooo pretty.

      Liked by 1 person

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