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Book Cover Smackdown! ‘Empire State’ vs. ‘By Light Alone’ vs. ‘A Long, Long Sleep’

Greetings, armchair art critics! It’s time once again for another Book Cover Smackdown!

Here are today’s contenders…

Your Mission (should you choose to accept it): Tell us which cover you like best and why.

Books shown here:

NOTE: Bigger, better cover art images are available by clicking the images or title links.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

17 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown! ‘Empire State’ vs. ‘By Light Alone’ vs. ‘A Long, Long Sleep’

  1. I love the Empire State cover. Awesome cover.

  2. Bobby Berry // August 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm //

    Of the three I like the Empire State cover the best. Though I really don’t like any of the three very much. The style is very retro but the Empire State cover with its red/black/gray colors is a bit more appealing.

  3. I would wear the Empire State book cover on a t-shirt with much happiness. By Light Alone is pretty sweet, too, but ES has stronger colors and actually communicates what that novel is about. The third? Pah, flowers.

  4. Empire State, hands down. What a classic, art deco look. And for a book about super heroes set in the period, it’s absolutely perfect. It’s unique, would stand out on a shelf and catches and pleases my eyes. Second choice for me would be By Light Alone. The third is too feminine for my taste but then I’m male and it’s probably appropriate to the book. It wouldn’t stop me from reading it, mind you. As with the previous smackdown, I am just talking personal asthetic taste here.

  5. Empire State, ArtDeco steampunkish.

    but by light alone makes me think of the sort of award an ambassador from a french empire dictatorship would wear.!

    A long sleep made me think of Flowers for Algernon. Wierd or what.


  6. Empire State. Love the Art Deco aesthetic. 



  7. I’d pick up “By Light Alone” if I saw all three side by side on a bookstore shelf to see what the back cover had to say.  The gasmask on “Empire State” is a turn off.  The third one looks like a soft romance cover, not typically my cuppa.

  8. I just…don’t know what to say.


  9. Empire State, no doubt. Composition, colors and typography mix perfectly to bring an appealing cover.

    By Light Alone looks nice, but just that, nice. It doesn’t stant out.

    A Long, Long Sleep is the weakest cover of this smackdown. Boring composition and boring illustration.

  10. I like all three. Empire State and By Light Alone are somehow more dramatic. They make me think of old movie posters. Really tough choice but Empire State is my first choice. There is a harder edge to it and I really look forward to the book.

  11. They all do the job well, but my favorite is By Light Alone. By a country mile, too.

    A Long, Long Sleep is probably my second-favorite, but it looks suspiciously like misplaced lit-fic. I’m assuming that was the intent. 

    Empire State is pretty cool, but I’m really tired of that colour palette. It has a vaguely similar aesthetic to the Roberts book, but, set side by side, I think By Light Alone is far more appealing. A lot of that comes with the brave, bright colors – it makes me want to pick it up.

  12. Text married properly with image– ART.  More specifically, book cover art that will look great in any context. Three very nice images/concepts that look beautiful as book covers and do their job very well. My compliments to the designers and artists.

    Empire State is the strongest image and cover, something that a previous poster said they would wear on a shirt, and that is a great compliment to design and art made to be the face and image of a book. 

    I have a feeling By Light Alone would look even better on the shelf, so I’m inclined to want to see that one as the object.

    Dig the use of  color on A Long, Long Sleep. 


  13. Empire State by a tall building in a single bound!!!

  14. I am in love with the Empire State cover. It’s Deco with a Soviet Union propaganda art vibe. I want a poster of it to hang in my office. 

    I like By Light Alone but it just doesn’t grab me like Empire State. A Long Long Sleep is pretty but says “YA” to me. 

    Hands down… Empire State.

  15. I love the Empire State cover. It’s Deco with a Soviet propaganda art vibe. I’d love a poster of it to hang in my office.

    I like By Light Alone, but it does not grab me like Empire State. A Long Long Sleep is pretty, but says ‘YA” to me.

    Empire State… hands down.

  16. empire state!

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