Booksellers praise new Harper Lee cover

Booksellers praise new Harper Lee cover

The cover for Harper Lee’s forthcoming novel is “striking”, and will stand out on shelves, booksellers have said.

Penguin Random House UK yesterday unveiled the cover for Go Set a Watchman (William Heinemann), a sequel to Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, which was first published in the UK in 1960 by William Heinemann.

The UK cover, which shows a bird sitting on a tree against an orange background, differs from the US cover, which shows a train on a track against a midnight green background.

Jonathan Ruppin, web editor of Foyles, said: “We definitely like the colour scheme: it sits well alongside To Kill a Mockingbird and should stand out very well instore. The lettering's quite unusual: more reminiscent of what one tends to see on US jackets.”

He said that Foyles’ customers on Twitter “seem to prefer the American version, but a thumbnail doesn't really convey what a physical copy, with whatever finishes they chose to use, will look like”.

“But let's be honest: if the title was just scrawled on the front in biro, it would still be a bestseller,” he added.

Sheila O’Reilly of Dulwich Books said: “I think it's a very striking cover, it will catch browsers’ attention. It is going to look good on the bookshop shelves. I like the subtle mention of her previous book just in case anyone might not know. I am not sure it says a lot about the storyline, but then it probably doesn't need to.”

Sheryl Shurville of Chorleywood Bookshop said she loved the “bold strong colour and shadowing the main title with To Kill a Mockingbird, reminding folk about the link to her previous so, so successful book”.

But not everyone is a fan. One bookseller, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: "I think it’s a clever idea but I’m not entirely convinced it works. The retro typeface, the bold imagery and the bright colour all work well, but I don’t like the shadowing or the ‘by the author of’ - it makes the page look rather messy. It is a bit too self-conscious, and comes over as the publisher being worried that people won’t know this is the author of the much-loved book. Surely people are familiar with her name and there will be so much publicity around the book, that there is no need for such an overt message incorporated in the design?

"The book will be eye-catching and I think it will sell well because people will be curious, but I think it’s a shame the publisher hasn’t had more courage of their convictions and kept to the title and author, more space, and with perhaps a small strapline to mention the classic novel we all know."

PRH UK yesterday also launched a series of social media channels dedicated to Go Set a Watchman, which will be released on 14th July. The Facebook page currently has 1,331 likes, while the Twitter account has 225 followers, and the Instagram account has 150 followers. There is also a Tumblr.