Which Cover Do You Prefer?

I’ve done this before with book covers, so here goes. But please do not use these images on your site.

My friend at Eastern University, Joe Modica, and I are co-editors of a book to be published early next year called Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not, and it will subject empire criticism to evaluation. We are looking forward to the discussion. By the way, Friday two Bethel students, both gifted in art studies and one looking to do a PhD in Art History, took me to the airport and I showed them these covers, and they saw loads of ideas in these covers.

But here are two cover proposals. Which do you prefer and why: A (to the left) or B (to the right)?

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Tamara Rice

    B. For sure. It’s a great cover.

  • http://thetwocities.com Andrew Kelley

    The Left One Is Better, The Right On Is Not.

  • http://thesometimespreacher.blogspot.com/ Andy Holt

    I like the second one. I think the upside-down Caesar makes the point that he is not Lord much stronger than the other. You could even lose the X over his head. In fact, the more I look at it, the more I think you ought to lose the X.

  • Michael Todd

    I like the second, but I do not like the globe in the middle.

  • http://www.twitter.com/AnwothWill Will

    The white one. I like the green one, but the upside down text is a little over the top. The white one’s good.

  • http://regeneratex.wordpress.com missional girl

    Selection B, minus the “X”

  • jamie

    B. The white and green one

  • jim

    the big X over Caesar is kinda lame, lacking of creativity :)

  • Josh

    I prefer cover B. Thrilled to see you working with Joe Modica — great, great guy.

  • Wayne Burgess

    As one paying tuition to EU, I’m looking forward to this. The mirror image cover does a better job of putting Jesus the Lord in a more prominent position.

  • carl

    I like the upside one!

  • http://dry-bones-valley.blogspot.com Rob Dunbar

    I like A. It’s easier to read at first glance. It also has a better color scheme; the green is a bit garish on B. ‘course, it’s your call, Scot.

  • Nick Jackson

    Left. The right one looks like it will be about ecology.

  • Lisa

    I like A. It catches my eye more.

  • http://dry-bones-valley.blogspot.com Rob Dunbar

    BTW, my graphic-designer wife prefers B. Mostly because it shows Caesar below, and underneath. But I might not be (exactly) wrong about the color scheme. . . . :-)

  • http://www.rootedradical.wordpress.com Jason

    The second one for sure

  • Tim

    By far, the one on the left! But minus the archaic image of Jesus and the tacky cross over Caeser’s face! Look forward to reading it!

  • http://weareallescapeartists.com Kevin Thow

    Looking at them side-by-side, my eye is immediately drawn to the green cover and the upside-down design. If I were looking at a sea of book covers, the green would stand out, whereas the first cover would blend in with the other books and looks a bit too bland.

    I don’t mind the X over Caesar’s head – it is a nice design element, especially upside-down.

    To add onto what Michael Todd said with the globe observation on the second cover – I think what you’ve got in the middle of the first cover with the finger gestures is more interesting than what is on the second cover. But then again, perhaps if you move around images it would look too busy on the second cover.

    Anyway, my vote is for cover two.

  • http://bookwi.se Adam Shields

    The second one, without the x. I am fine with the colors. But would be ok with a different color scheme. I like the upside down elements to make the point.

  • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

    The one on the left. Much more readable. Much stronger presentation.

  • http://www.benjaminasimpson.com Ben Simpson

    A. is much easier to read, and thus trumps the more creative aspects of the layout in B.

  • Derek

    B. Because it is not easier to read. That creates interest and it`s not the standard cover. And as Andy Holt said “the upside-down Caesar makes the point that he is not Lord much stronger than the other.” Greetings from Germany!

  • http://mikeblyth.blogspot.com Mike Blyth

    I vote for A. The upside down text in B is clever but detracts from fast readability.

  • http://chosenrebel.wordpress.com Marty Schoenleber, Jr.

    I prefer the one on the left. Selection ‘A’. But either is good. I look forward to reading the book.

  • Clay Knick

    I prefer “A” the one on the left.

  • http://grasshoppersdreaming.blogspot.com :mic

    I like the left one better, though I don’t like the X in either version.

  • gpope

    White cover, cleaner look.

  • Scott Ray

    A. Looks “cleaner”.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    B, but lose the X, it is redundant.

  • http://www.hopespringsint.com Lee Hodges

    The left one for sure! I was drawn to it immediately.

  • Cathy

    The one on the right — thumbs up to Jesus, thumbs down to Ceasar!

  • http://www.dowsetts.net Andrew Dowsett

    I don’t know whether you are planning to publish on both sides of the Atlantic, and if so whether that would be more-or-less simultaneously or whether you go US quite some time before UK, but if you do you will probably want to take quite a different approach in each context. From what I have seen be well received on either side, I’d suggest that A would be the better choice for the US, and that B would be the better choice for the UK. And if you choose to go that route, you’ve already got a good starting-point for both.

  • abk

    b. is by far the more creative and clever option. Lose the X and the globe though.
    If you go with a, make the font all one color. I don’t really care for the center “hand” graphic either. I had to look at it for too long to figure out what it was/speculate on what it was trying to communicate. Making the Jesus/Ceaser corner graphics larger and losing the center graphic could make it a lot more appealing. And maybe a sans serif font.

  • Wes Horn

    I like A, the one on the left. The green just doesn’t seem to fit the title. It is a turnoff. Looking forward to the book.

  • http://weareallescapeartists.com Kevin Thow

    Interesting exercise. Many look at a cover and find what is easier to read, my eye is drawn to the color and overall presentation, it evokes a stronger emotion to me and I can read what is upside-down pretty quickly without any trouble.

    That being said, I wonder who your main target audience is with this book, Scot. To me, cover A communicates a serious tome – one for the history buff, it seems to be a weighty book that delves into deep theological territory and is for one who is already familiar with themes of Kingdom vs. Empire in the NT.

    Cover B communicates something (to me) that promotes greater accessibility to those who aren’t familiar with the themes of ‘Empire’, and would be an introduction to begin looking at these themes in greater detail.

    So I guess, the covers are somewhat dependent on the content of the book as well as its target audience for me.

  • Ralph Cann

    I think if I were looking at these two book covers side by side on a bookstore shelf I’d be drawn to the A one more quickly. Might prefer to move the image of the globe over to “A”. Is there another way of indicating a “No” for Ceasar besides an X?

  • Brian

    A, which means the one on the left. And I’m only explaining this because a one letter comment is dubbed to be too brief.

  • ReJoyce

    I prefer A. The upside down text kinda bugs me, especially with some of the text in the bottom half right side up.

  • Ed

    Actually I really like both. My sense is the white cover looks more conventional and may look better on the shelf but the other one has the benefit of expressing an irony which is likely part of the message. It runs the risk of being a little “too cute” in doing that but I like it as well. Very slight preference to the fist one.

  • http://thekingsfellowship.com Steve, Winnipeg, Canada

    I prefer A (on the left). I prefer it by a wide margin.

    I think it will hold up better over time and won’t look dated in a few years (I suspect B will).

  • Albion

    An easy call for me: A. Color scheme is crisp, easier to read, more authoritative. B looks an ecology textbook from the 70s. As others have mentioned, the X over Caesar’s head is pretty lame. Might as well put a checkmark beside the head of Jesus.

  • Bruce in Kansas

    First one. If the book is on a table and you see the cover from the opposite way it’s confusing.

  • Iago

    As a bookseller I would challenge both designs as too complicated. The image of the book cover needs to capture someone’s eye on the shelf of a store, or as a thumbnail on a website. This attention grab needs to happen immediately and too much imagery or complication hinders this process. I would suggest the cover needs to be designed to sell the book rather than be a work or art. (some covers can do both but they are very rare)

    Alternatively your publisher may be telling you that the book will sell mostly by recommendation or author profile, if so save the cover design fee and just call it my latest book by Scot :)

    For what it’s worth, a simplification of A would be my preference.

  • Elizabeth

    B – on the right. Although, I agree with others that you could lose the X and the globe in the middle.

    Also agree that the intended audience/content dictate the choice of cover.

  • Ryan

    I like the top better myself, prefer the shading.

  • RJS

    My opinion (for what its worth) … A all the way.

  • http://matichuk.wordpress.com James Matichuk

    Either is fine with me, but I much prefer B. With others, I am unsure that the X is necessary, but that wasn’t your original question. I like the inversion of Caesar’s kingdom implied by the second cover.

  • Jack

    A – looks better to me.

  • Steve Kolk

    Cover B on the right. The more colorized Jesus stands out as dominant. Jesus in Cover A in monotone is washed out and does not look like the dominant Lord that He is.

  • Gloria

    Definitely A. It is classy looking. But get rid of the X.

  • http://abcwesterville.org Mark Farmer

    Like the left, dislike the right.

  • Diane

    B–green and white–but I would put Jesus is Lord upside down to represent the upside down kingdom.

  • RJS

    It took me a bit to find the X – but I agree, either would look better without the X.

  • GLE

    The left is more aesthetically pleasing, but not as eye-catching. I don’t like the upside down writing. And I don’t like the X over Caesar’s face. It’s just too busy and it makes it Caesar looks like a woman if you don’t see the face. At first glance, you don’t notice that it’s armor. The breasts are accentuated and the sleeve looks frilly. I like the leaves on the left cover – ties in with Caeser and pulls it together.

  • Peter G.

    First one for sure. The second looks like it’s trying too hard.

  • TroyJ

    I like the B cover best. It conveys how the Gospel of this King “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) during the time of Caesar. Maybe the designer had something like this in mind. I also think that the B cover captures one’s attention at just a glance.

  • http://priestfield.org.uk Jared H

    Hi Scot,
    I prefer A – easier to take in quicker, the colour is easier on the eye, the opposites are easier to see, but I agree with a lot of people in saying that it would be even better to take the X off Caesar’s head. Looking forward to hearing more about the book.

  • Mark Edward

    The first is great, but the second is more eye-catching.

  • jason powell

    The one on the right has better symbolism and a more modern, appealing color scheme.

  • Joshua

    Elizabeth thought that A is too “clip-arty.” The color of B is more catchy as well (it brought out Jesus much better). I agree with her, even though the upside down Caesar was annoying, but overall it was more attractive than A.

  • Kenneth

    I like B. Catches the eye.

  • Jeremy

    A, by a lot. The “X” should be removed in either case, but I don’t like the upside down text in B, and as someone else said, what’s the title if you look at it upside down?

  • http://www.christusvictoratonement.wordpress.com Ryan

    B; it’s politically subversive, giving a texture to the message.

  • barb

    I vote for A. Same reasons as others above. And Yes lose the “x”

  • Bev Mitchell

    The one where all the letters are right side up, as they should be. :)

  • bruce

    left (That was going to be my answer, but when I pressed “Post Comment” I was told “Your answer is too short, so “left, left, left.”)

  • http://aborrowedflame.com AndrewF

    second one… crisp and contemporary

  • http://www.icrucified.com/icruciblog Jeff Borden

    “B”
    I think it promotes the thesis better. Agree that neither cover needs the “X”

  • alastair

    the second one would show up so much better when seen among other books. you could spot that white and green.

  • http://www.myramboknives.blogspot.com britt gudowski

    The one on the left!

  • Pat Pope

    B. To me, it’s a simpler design and does not appear cluttered the way A does. Also, I think it’s provocative with the second half of the title being upside down.

  • Bart

    Definitely the second.

  • Xenia

    I prefer option B, but I agree with previous comments, I do not like the globe in the middle.

  • http://hypnosisnorthampton.com Graham Old

    The second, but not the globe in the middle.

    I’m also not sure about the cross on Caesar’s face. It’s a little obvious.

  • Deborah

    I like B – but am not sure that you need the X over Caesar’s head – it actually draws attention to him – by being upside down he is already minimized.

  • http://pfnazarene.org Mark McWhorter

    I like option B, and would agree with many that the X is not necessary. :) Looks like it will be an interesting read.

  • http://www.iconicklast.wordpress.com Nick Mackison

    I think B, minus the cross (it’s a bit obvious).

  • LexCro

    Cover B for me. The upside down “Caesar is Not” is a powerful visual that succinctly communicates the point to the (potential) reader–even if he/she has to think about it for a second. But please nix the “X” over Caesar’s face. I get tongue-in-cheek “X”/crucifix blotting out Caesar’s visage, but it veers into tackiness. Can’t wait to read this–no matter what cover you choose!

  • http://www.context21.com Jacob Wiebe

    Definitely A! Very clear and straight…

  • http://learningtomove.blogspot.com Erin

    I also prefer B, but without the X.
    The colors are appealing. The upside down Caesar is intriguing and makes me look twice.

  • http://restoringsoul.blogspot.com Ann F-R

    The cover on the right, although I agree that the X over Caesar’s head is unnecessary, if not contrary to the message of Christ. Human power is certainly turned upside down by the gospel, but humans aren’t blanked out, rather fulfilled. :) My 2 cents.

    Massimo agrees, because the right one also is immediately drew his attention.

  • andrew

    as a graphic designer i would go with A.
    B looks a bit dated

  • http://tbrown90.tumblr.com/ Taylor B.

    Cover A. I like the “X” over Caesar’s face, and it seems a little redundant on the upside-down Caesar on cover B. I also like the positioning of Jesus and Caesar’s hands in the center. Lastly, the upside down text on cover B just doesn’t do it for me.

  • Todd Moore

    Cover A is easier on the eyes. Omit the “x” and slightly darken the shade of the icon of our Lord Jesus Christ (which is not archaic, BTW;>)

  • Ben Hammond

    I agree with many above – B, minus the X.

  • Mike DeLong

    Cover A is better because it is classier and more readable. The upside-down text on B is overused and a little gimmicky, and makes the book look cheap. But in either case the “X” doesn’t fit.

  • http://www.theologoholic.wordpress.com Joseph Morgan-Smith

    So glad your working with Joe again. He’s a great guy and a good scholar. Hopefully this one will be a little less pricy than the last.

    I agree with a lot of the comments above: Cover B, but loose the X over Caesar’s head–it’s a little cheesy.

  • Jeremy

    B is way more eye catching and clever. I think it will definitely stand out more at bookstores too. It forces the viewer to look at it especially with the upside down font.

  • http://http//downatthecrossroads.wordpress.com Gary

    The one on the left is cleaner, and yeah, forget the X.

  • Timothy

    I do love to judge a book by its cover…I like A. It seems more timeless. B seems a bit too early 2000s / New Milennium-ish.

  • Norman

    I like a cover that is straight forward and will go with A

  • http://trinitariantheodicy.wordpress.com Trin

    A, because the upside down printing of B is distracting.
    B, because of the simpler “line” and color design.

    Overall: both are too busy.
    I’d use B but turn “Caesar…” right side up, and clean up some of the busyness.
    Less is more, after all (…but then again, I am a Mac person…;-) )

  • Will Varner

    Cover A. Upside down is hokey.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/CWoznicki Chris Woznicki

    I would Go with B. It draws you in a little bit more than A, however B doesn’t look as serious, it looks more like a pop-theology/biblical studies book. A looks more serious. So I guess it depends on who the publisher is and what the target audience is.

  • Home On The Range

    I like A….the left one better. My eye was instantly drawn to it. Like some other commenters, I didn’t like the upsidedown Ceasar…I found it disconcerting and a big over the top. I would pass that book by. But a book with the A cover draws me in and makes me want to pick it up.

  • http://logicandimagination.com melody hanson

    Definitely the second.

  • Ron Newberry

    “A” without the “X”. I think we can get the point without it.

  • Brent Peak

    The right cover without the ‘X’

  • Mikki Peterson

    I like B personally. A looks like a textbook to me while B looks like deep truth in a contemporary package.

  • http://whatsmccracken.tumblr.com Matthew McCracken

    I think I’m siding with “A” for reasons already stated: timeless, simple, less busy, easier on the eyes etc.

    I’d also suggest losing the “X” (on both covers). It suggests, to me anyway, that the conclusion of the evaluation is already in. Taking away the “X” perhaps makes the cover more of an invitation into the dialogue.

  • Warren Blaisdell

    I vote for B, but flip bottom half the text and image right side up.

  • http://communityofjesus.wordpress.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    The one on the left.

  • http://timmillerblog.wordpress.com/ Tim Miller

    The left one. I like the art renditions on the right but upsidedown words are not a good thing. I would concur that the X needs to go.

  • TJJ

    A. What really does upside down text accomplish? It is trying too hard to be catchy, and upside down text annoys me.

  • John M.

    Selection B, hands down.

  • Randy Barnhart

    Color: A (crisp, easy to read)
    Design: B (upside down is strong)

    Drop the X on both.
    Lose the globe.

    How about an upside down “Caesar is Not” with the white cover and no X?

  • MattR

    Both are good Scot, but I’d go for cover A. Seems a bit cleaner/focused, and like that brings out more of the ‘ancient’ feel.

  • Martin Breithaupt

    B. I do agree with several others I would drop the X. Looking forward to reading this book with whatever cover it has.

  • http://jefrylie.wordpress.com Jefry Lie

    Second one for sure…

  • http://www.billheroman.com Bill

    I prefer the left (A) but I’d guess the right (B) will be more effective at catching eyeballs.

    I’d also say drop the “X” UNLESS you put a green “check mark” near Jesus’ face… and if that looks ridiculous, then definitely drop the “X” altogether.

  • Cate Porter

    I like (B). However, I agree with with dropping the X (on both covers). Overkill! Love the colors.. Stands out….

  • Chris Miller

    A for hardcover and B for soft. A has the more academic feel, IMO.

  • Braden Kok

    B, honestly if they were on the bookshelf next to each other i would grab B to look at. It catches your attention.

  • Zach Thompson

    Definitely B. Looks rad.

  • Blake

    I prefer A. B looks like too many other “edgy” young person Christian books that have been published in recent years.

  • jesse

    A

    If you turn the words right side up, B would be better

  • Dana

    Okay, merely mentioning the subject matter (empire: and saying virtually nothing else at all about it) and then asking about the cover is like showing a beagle two different hot dogs and asking it merely to decide which one looks tastier. C’mon!! Who’s contributing to the book?

    Anyway, I prefer A. The upside down look and the color of B don’t do it for me.

  • barobin

    choose A! colors go better.

  • http://mikesnow.org Michael Snow

    Ditto, my vote is for A. I hate confusion and fads.

  • Jeremy

    Either, just remove the X

  • http://OurRabbiJesus.com Lois Tverberg

    The second one is much more effective at drawing the eye, and the picture of Jesus is bigger and cleaner. Overall, I’d pick up the second book more quickly than the first. The cover of the first one looks more typically academic. The scholarly subtitle explains the subject of the book well enough that the cover image can be more creative. A wider group of potential readers would pick it up. The inverted image is eye-catching enough without the X though.

  • http://www.eric-michael.com EricMichaelSay

    My 2 cents as a graphic designer.

    Cover A is great if this is geared more towards academics. I like the color scheme, in fact I wouldn’t change anything.

    Cover B looks much more geared toward the layman, Christian bookstore shopper. Looks like theology lite. It needs some work though. I definitely understand the flow of the eye being guided by Jesus head 1st, then globe, then the X on ceasars head (which would probably be too light to draw attention without it). I don’t like the globe at all, and the overall composition just seems weak.

  • johnman

    I like A. It looks more like a book I could use in an Essay or research, whereas B. looks more like something for popular reading. I am suspicious of books that have funky covers, I figure they must be making up for something.

  • Peter

    I definitely like A better than B.
    Please lose the X whichever one you choose – is it crazy for me to say that it’s suggestive of violent overthrow and probably not consistent with your message?

  • http://teapartyjesus.tumblr.com Dave

    B is much nicer (A looks a bit like an alternate-history novel you’d buy in an airport). I don’t like the big black X, though. It draws my eye straight to itself every time I look at the picture, and I don’t think that’s where you want people’s attention.

  • http://www.iosa.tumblr.com Nick

    The first one. I don’t want to turn my head upside down to read the cover…

  • MatthewS

    A looks more academic and perhaps I prefer it overall.
    I want to like B but for some reason it reminds me so much of the books from the 60s or 70s on my dad’s bookshelf. I think I like the upside down text, though – we often say Jesus’ kingdom is upside down to the kingdoms of the world.

  • MG

    B. People are more likely to pick it up … possibly to rotate … and isnt that the idea of a cover? Grab attention = grab the the book; book in hand more likely bought?

  • Sheri Graham

    I like A. I also don’t like the X, and I think the middle graphic with the hands makes it too busy. Picture B is not bad. I think it would be better without the X and the globe. Picture A looks like a more serious book. I like the comment above that says it depends on your target reader. Picture B does look less serious and might appeal to those just delving into the subject. Overall, I go with A.

  • http://afriendforthejourney.com Journey Pastor

    The LEFT cover is much clearer, and with so many books it’s important to get a quick “fix” on the book

  • http://svedek.wordpress.com Simon Marshall

    I much prefer cover B but would agree with those who think the ‘X’ is redundant. I am writing from a UK perspective, so that may need to be taken into account. The serif font and laurels on cover A seem to me to say ‘US’ (from my limited experience of these things, having worked with American colleagues in a church setting). The non-serif font on B seems more European.

  • Christopher

    The left cover doesn’t look like a teenage devotional cover. It’s less busy, and the subtle symbolism on the cover will merit lots of second glances.

  • Imran Siddiqui

    A) It’s easier to read at first glance

  • Kyle

    In my opinion, the X (on either book) is a too-heavy stroke that makes the sculpture of Caesar (and by implication his throne) more seductive. The craftsmanship and vision of the artist who rendered this sculpture are certainly beautiful, so the heavy-handed censorship reads like an ideological agenda rather than a thoughtful and delicate treatment of complex issues. And why just the head? Defacing the head alone gives the X a cross-hairs feel, and I don’t think assassination is the appropriate tone here. But more than that, in the second version, which I otherwise prefer, the flipped half seems to contradict its own logic, given the text. If each half of the book represents a paradigm of lordship, we would expect the text accompanying Caesar’s half to read “Caesar Is Lord”. We must make a decision, and rotating the book discloses this decision. But rotating the book only to read that we’ve selected the wrong Lord (“Not”) isn’t really a decision at all, and then the cleverness of the halving seems superfluous and even like trickery. Since I’m supposing that the title is nonnegotiable, I’d orient both halves similarly, keep the color scheme, and remove the X.

  • E.G.

    B, without the X.

  • Greg D

    As a professional graphic designer I prefer B (right). It stands out. The one on the left looks like any other ordinary book and has an academic textbook feel to it. I would lose the “X” altogether. The message is conveyed by a combination of the visuals and text.

  • darrylrlewis

    B. Jesus is seen more clearly.

  • Jim

    B. Since my comment was too short I’m adding these extraneous words.

  • Dave

    One on the right, minus the “X” and the globe.

  • http://krusekronicle.com Michael W. Kruse

    A. Simple, clean, crisp.

  • Chris White

    I like the one on the left–minus the X. But the one I really like is the Kindle version. LOL.

  • Ben Thorp

    I think it will depend on the content of the book and the intended audience. The one on the right is more “edgy” and “contemporary”, the one on the left is more serious and academic.

  • Steve

    I vote for B. Both are excellent. I think the point is well made in B.

  • Phil Miller

    Steve,
    I think your vote is a little late… This post is from April 2012… It looks like option A won out, btw. :-)


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