Comparing covers: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Carin’s Friday Coffee chat last week was about our inner Peter Pan. So today I am looking at a few covers of the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

German (kids’ and adult edition)

HP1_1 HP1_2

I like the way the cover focuses on the chess match. The adult cover doesn’t say much at all about the book. And even though I don’t see the reason for an adult cover (by now everybody who sees you reading this book knows you are reading a kids’  – or is it YA?- book).

UK (kids’ and adult edition)

HP1_3 HP1_4

Hogwarts Express is quite nice, too. I like the adult cover, even though I still don’t see the point).

US (regular, anniversary and collectors’ edition)

HP1_5 HP1_6 HP1_7

I don’t like the covers at all, too flashy for my taste. The collector’s edition is probably supposed to be reminding us of old, leather bound books, but does it achieve it? Not really.

If I was an American reader I would be thoroughly pissed off about the change of title and would boycott the US editions for that reason. Why they felt the need to change the title for the American market is beyond me. The thing has been called the Philosopher’s Stone (or "Stein der Weisen”) within living memory, so why change it? Even IF there are people who have not heard about it they can google it, for Christ’s sake or – as a last resort – use a dictionary.

Which cover do you like best?

Do you think there is a need for adult covers?

What do you think about the change of the American title?

Let me know!

8 Comments Write a comment

  1. I don’t like all of the UK book covers – I didn’t like how whoever drew Harry seemed to have no idea what he looked like from the second book onwards as he looked quite chubby.

    I like the UK Philosopher’s stone kid’s cover best and I think the German adult cover is nicer to look at then the UK adult version.

    I like the American covers for many of the other Harry Potter books, especially the 7th one.

    I also don’t really get the different covers for YA and Adult. It’s become quite a trend now I think – Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, I Capture the Castle, Tales of the Otori, Twilight and many many more. I guess it makes people feel better about themselves. We all I suppose have our insecurities.

    I have the Children’s collection as I like the colours and they’re what I started with so why change? They look nice on the shelf now, all seven of them.
    Fiona’s last post ..Review- The End of the Affair by Graham Greene


  2. I have the American covers of course since the others aren’t available here. Actually, I have seen the YA UK covers. Those are nice too. My favorite is the German one though with the chess game. That was one of my favorite parts of the book.

    As for why they changed the name, I have no idea. The publisher probably wanted to cause controversy since a philosopher is kind of boring while a sorcerer is obviously a pawn of Satan. 😛 I actually didn’t know for a few years that the book was called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (of course, I didn’t read them until all seven were out). People might think I’m crazy for saying this, but I think when businesses do these kinds of things it only isolates us from the rest of the world. Why do we always have to be so different? I do like the American covers otherwise even though the German one is my favorite.

    As for Fi, you know that she has chips and rice krispies treats falling out of her Harry Potter books!

    As for the adult covers, I don’t mind them. They are just packaged differently. It’s all a marketing tool, but I see them as YA books so I would prefer the YA covers on my shelves.

    Thanks for the shout out. I enjoy any post where I can refer to your chinchilliza. hmmm…maybe that Godzilla/Chinchilla mix didn’t work so well. It just looks like I spelled it wrong. 😛


    • At the time we heard about the different American title the reason that was given to us for it was that the American publishers thought the Americans might not know what the Philosopher’s Stone was. Needless to say – again- it didn’t throw a very good light on the US in general.

      No, chinchilliza is not a very good combination, lacks usability, lol. How about Godchilla???Hehe.


      • I will say that I sorcerer is the word used here…or wizard. I think that people could figure it out though. I also will say that our words for some of the things in the book (Fiona talked about this on one of the Friday Coffee Chats) are different. I think it would have been fine to just put a little glossary at the back of the book rather than change the words, but it’s all about marketing and money here. I think they make things as accessible as possible just so they can make the most money possible. Either way, Rowling is laughing all the way to the bank so she probably doesn’t care one way or another.

        I guess when I think about it, geographically we are fairly isolated from the rest of the world. We are only bordered by two countries so I think the lack of proximity to other places probably hurts us in the knowing other cultures department. It’s something you definitely have to make an effort to expose yourself to here. Kind of sad when you think about it.


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