Cover theft? You decide (updated)

I don’t know if any of you have noticed but there are quite a few covers in YAland that look alike. Lately there have been so many covers with girl’s faces that I admit I’ve been a little concerned that the US cover of Liar will get lost. But people have been reassuring me that it’s different to the other girl face covers, that it will pop.

Then someone anonymously emailed me the image you see below. Apparently it’s the cover of a forthcoming Maureen Johnson book.

Am I being oversensitive in thinking it looks more than a bit like the US Liar?

You can be honest with me. Do you see any similarities between this:

And this:

What do you think?

Are they the same? Could it have been done on purpose? Or maybe the two designers just happened to use the same stock photo?

Update: Full story is here.


  1. Pope Lizbet on #

    Ooh. I don’t know enough about design to say, but I would be displeased with my book having a design that similar to another being released concomitantly.

    I’m gonna send this blog post to one of my designer friends, I think.

  2. Mike G. on #

    It’s interesting that the titles, colors, and fonts are somewhat similar as well…

    Perhaps the “Maureen Johnson” version was just an early mockup of yours with a different author name and title?

    Although in that case, you’d think they’d have picked a generic author name rather than another popular YA author…

  3. Dave H on #

    If that’s a coincidence, it is a rather bizarre one – that picture doesn’t exactly scream “book cover” when you first look at it. Plus it isn’t the same photo, just the same pose.

    So, yes, I think you and Maureen should both be concerned about this.

  4. Holly Black on #

    Maureen’s expression is priceless.

  5. Saundra on #

    Oh, don’t be silly! The A in Maureen is completely different from the As in Larbalestier!

  6. Lara on #

    Hmm..they are too similar if you ask me.

  7. The Book Monkey on #

    I feel like I’ve been punk’d…

  8. Laza on #

    If it makes you feel any better the Johnson cover is way creepy, whereas yours is enticing. This doesn’t seem to be a very uncommon thing. My blogger friend Alea at Pop Culture Junkie has a series of posts that showcases books with similar cover treatments. They often have the same photo with different cropping or coloring. I would still say that this is TOO similar. The colors are the same, the fonts are both sans serif…its clearly a different picture, but the idea is the same.

  9. pericat on #

    Same source pic, all right. 🙁

  10. Shveta on #

    Hahahaha! Very funny, Justine. 🙂

  11. molly on #

    The synonymous relationship between the words “weasel” and “liar” is also interesting.

  12. Amanda on #

    I don’t see the problem, it’s CLEARLY a different shade of green.

  13. danielle on #

    I have a hunch that you are the victim of a clever practical joke here. The photos are similar, as are the fonts, but there are some design clues on the anonymous pic that scream “LIAR” to me… 🙂

  14. emerald on #

    maureen johnson? like the character from RENT? 🙂

  15. Aja on #

    Ahaha, I love it, she got the eyes right and everything!

    (She should, obviously, sue you for stealing her face to use for your cover.)

  16. AD on #

    It looks like blatant theft to me. I’m all about creative license or even a derivative work/appropriation, but since they’re both for the exact item (a book), I can’t imagine this not causing problems, regardless of whether it’s exactly the same picture (read: copyright infringement). And the picture isn’t like a knock-off of “The Scream,” so you could argue fair/common use. If it were me, I would lawyer-up and get a cease and desist sent out, pronto.

  17. andy on #

    Theft! Or a joke, one.

  18. Anne on #

    Jokes aside, I was a little confused by the following:

    Luna by Julie Anne Peters:

    Fate by Jennifer Lynn Barnes:

    Although I’m guessing it’s the publisher’s decision/stock photo use.

  19. Temoca on #

    Yours does “pop” more, though this is too close to be comfortable with.

  20. El on #

    Agree with Holly Black, Maureen’s expression is priceless.

    How does she have time to do mockup covers when she’s doing 1000 word blog posts every day in April?

  21. Karen on #

    I see that you are laying the groundwork for unreliable narrative.

  22. Belynda on #

    Umm.. yeah I’d be breathing in a bag with one hand right now, dialing my agent with the other…

    That’s WAY too close for comfort.

  23. Brooke Taylor on #

    The difference is in the fringe–Heidi Klum or a soft side sweep. Totally differentin tone and direction and character–no one would confuse the two, your cover is safe 🙂 (and awesome!!!)

  24. Brooke Taylor on #

    I’d like to see Maureen steal the How to Ditch Your Fairy hammer cover…

  25. Rebecca on #

    ROTFLMAO!!!! That cover model looks AWFULLY FAMILIAR….

  26. Lianne on #

    hmm… the fact that even the letters are in the same colours and place makes me a bit suspicious.

    But if I published a book I woudl actually wanted it to be distinguishable from all the other YA books. Even if it was just a coincidence I would change it now that it;s still possible.

  27. Lianne on #

    and btw, the maureen johnson cover looks an awefull lot like maureen johnson herself 😛

  28. Kaleb Nation on #

    HA! For some reason, the cover model for Maureen’s book looks really familiar 😉

  29. Regina Doublemint on #

    I wasn’t going to say anything, but the cover of the catalog? Also Maureen’s book.

  30. Amber on #

    That. Is. Hilarious. I add my vote to Brooke Taylor’s. Looking forward to seeing the cover of Maureen Johnson’s soon-to-be-released How to Splat Your Maureen, showing Maureen Johnson splatted under a hammer. (Um, not _actually_ splatted under a hammer. That would be awful. Just comically pretend-splatted. Obviously).

  31. Amber on #

    The models are definitely two different people (the eyes look different; of course they could have tweaked that in photoshop or something). The hair is the same as far as placement toward the bottom.

    I will know the difference since I know your Liar book is coming out and what to look for, but if I didn’t know, and was someone randomly coming to look at YA books (which I do often), I would most likely think they are the same book, unless I saw them side by side (because I am visual, and I generally remember cover photos before and more than I do the title). So I would be concerned, mainly for those who don’t closely follow your blog and know what your cover looks like.

  32. Q on #

    Those photos are SO not the same one. The bangs are different.

  33. Nichole on #

    maureen is such a rascal!

  34. Alea on #

    That is priceless, you guys crack me up! Now this is the kind of lookalike i’d love to see more often! Thanks for the laugh!

  35. Dave H on #

    I am slightly suspicious that those of us who do not know Maureen by sight have been had.

    Just slightly, mind you.

  36. Paradox on #

    This supposed copycat cover doesn’t seem to be of professional quality. It looks like it was made using a pic taken by a cameraphone and made in Microsoft Paint. The text is not centered and there is no accentuation of light or use of shadows like your professionally created cover. The size of it also seems a bit off. I think you’ve been pranked. 🙂

    I wonder who created this… Well, if it had been me, I would have found a better quality photo and I would have added shadow to the text.

  37. Georgiana on #

    The girl on the top is hiding behind her hair, using it as a mask/scarf. The girl on the bottom is smelling her hair. Clearly you have nothing to worry about. They’re totally different!

    PS – love the title Weasel. Brilliant.

  38. Jennila on #

    Clearly they’re different- with the copycat’s hair, the left side is on top and in the real one, the right side is on top. A real copycat would do better than that.

  39. Book Chic on #

    Jaclyn- I see no reason to complain. These things happen and unless they are like the exact same cover, there’s no need to complain really. It’s different publishing houses, different artists- these things happen randomly and coincidentally a lot of the time.

    Anyway, one of the things that makes me giggle is how seriously a lot of people commenting are taking this. They obviously don’t know that the Maureen cover is a fake- she does not have a book called Weasel coming out (to my knowledge) and that’s Maureen herself on the cover, hence the blurriness. It seems like something she did on her cell phone, lol. But the two covers made me giggle- Maureen is hilarious. And I agree that she should do her own version of your Fairy paperback, lol.

  40. Julia Rios on #

    Hee! I’m a bit surprised at how many people seem to be taking this very seriously.

  41. Charles Tan on #

    It’s possible they were using the same peg or had the same concept in mind. What IS disconcerting however is that fact combined with the typography used in the layout (which also happens to be the same shade of green).

  42. Luz on #

    I LOVE Maureen’s expression! Clearly these two covers are complete opposites!!!

  43. Allison on #

    Yeah, the fonts are TOTALLY different. The pictures are maybe a little similar, but, you know, that is probably just coincidence.

  44. Mary Elizabeth S. on #

    @ Julia and Book Chic

    Of course it’s being taken seriously! It’s a very serious matter. Maureen has obviously been kidnapped by rouge photographers and used to make a copy-cat cover of Liar. Then, adding insult to flash-shock, they have put her name on the cover so that she will be blamed! Not only could this cripple both authors’ readerships as they struggle to make sense of two identical books, but now Maureen can’t eat without getting food in her hair! This is a disaster!

    I’m going to try and find help. I urge you all to do the same!


  45. Tina in College Station on #

    The bad news is someone is totally plagiarizing your cover design! The good news is yours is better designed and way more attractive, in all respects.

  46. Sara on #

    The girl on Maureen’s cover is much prettier in my opinion. xD

  47. Brett Carter on #

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t see the similarity between the covers. It’s clear to me that the designs were done with completely different intended focus. The mood of the first cover is so different than the second, it’s hard to imagine how anyone thinks they are similar in any way. I would avoid a lengthy, legal lawsuit on this one. A judge will see the differences right away, and the court case will be thrown out.

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