New Cover Controversy?


I’ve seen many social media discussions about the new editions of especially the look and design of the covers.

I think the overall look that Mariner Books is shooting for with these is a literary novel or contemporary fiction. Maybe that’s part of why us science fiction readers (for those of you who identify with that label. I hope I’m not over generalizing here) who are used to garish covers aren’t reacting positively to the generic bland covers that could be on any book.


I like the older covers better because they were more garish, more distinctive and more Science Fiction. The new ones look bland and so similar I think it will be hard to tell one apart from another. And the covers I’ve seen don’t seem to even try to show items, content or concepts from the novel.

What does everyone else think about this issue? Feel free to post a comment and share your thoughts!

7 thoughts on “New Cover Controversy?

  1. Your perspective is certainly a viable one. Following up on the Library Of America’s legitimization of Philip K. Dick (he’s the ONLY science fiction author in that prestigious series), “perhaps” the publisher of the Mariner Books edition of Philip K. Dick’s works was hoping to extend and maintain this legitimization by opting for a so called minimalist “literary artiste” cover artwork “look.” I do NOT like them. I do not have to like them. They are cheap looking. Philip K. Dick is a science fiction writer. Give him discernible SF artwork!!!!

  2. As a Graphic Designer I am lukewarm about this set of covers – but not because I want Garrish pulpy SF covers (some of which I love) but because they are weak. Frank C.Bertrand is right, they look cheap – and I think they are cheap – stock image artwork, horrible typography from folks who know little about type. Oddly enough, I think the Exegesis one is the best of the bunch. So please don’t think anyone who dislikes them is stuck in a 50’s pulp past – although even that would be far preferable to these covers. PKD deserves better – he deserves our consideration and our craft.

  3. I guess I’m in the minority. I always disliked those old covers. They looked like they were designed on a cheap computer – like they were dated as soon as they were released. I like understated – which I think speaks well for Dick b/c his books aren’t flashy like a space opera, they’re cerebral.

  4. I wasn’t crazy about the previous covers – and granted, I’m a sucker for the older 1960s and 1970s covers that had imaginative, illustrative images that screamed SF – but they were far better than the new ones. They are as cheap-looking, non-descript and as off-putting as can possibly be. They look like terrible self-published volumes. Only the illustration for UBIK looks distinctive in any way, but the typography is still lame. Awful, awful.

  5. I’m with Henry Baum on this one. In fact I like those Mariner Editions covers so much that I’ve spent the last HOUR googling for a Mariner Editions collection of PKD! They’re absolutely gorgeous, IMO, and very very subtle in their allusions… Same as PKD was. He wasn’t in your face (or at least, what was at face value was always a mask), so I don’t see the point of his books having garish, “in your face” covers. He was about the message in-between the lines, not about cheapness… Although I do understand the sentiment. But I also see where Mariner are going. My guess is they have a hard-core PKD fan among their ranks. Look at the VALIS cover – although it’s bland and almost doesn’t tell you anything… it’s actually a PINK BEAM HITTING YOUR EYES. Which is the whole gist of VALIS, that central pivotal event… Excellent!

  6. Mariner are right to go after the ‘contemporary fiction’ angle with the new covers. I think they’re beautiful, stark, and understated. The trick is to avoid cliche. I fail to see why anyone thinks science fiction is best served by ludicrous, garish painted covers with bargain-basement fonts. You only have to look at some of the ‘non-series’ PKD books. Awful, and guaranteed to keep the author in the sci-fi ghetto. What the new covers do, is remove ANY preconceptions. The reader then has to make the effort themselves, not have the concepts spoonfed to them. And for the record, I LOVED the Vintage ‘cheap computer’ covers, too. Very stylish, and perfect for the time. They were deliberately retro-futurist. That was the point! You’ve got to allow art directors to think outside the box. There’s always plenty of versions with crap covers, if these don’t float your boat. Go to Amazon UK and buy the Brit versions, instead.

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