Friday Faceoff – Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is planes, so I’ve chosen Nevil Shute’s thriller No Highway.


This cover, produced by Vintage Classics in September 2009, is cool and retro. However, there’s such a thing as being too restrained and tasteful – could the title be less obtrusive? While it’s attractive, it isn’t eye-catching enough.


This paperback edition, produced in 1963 by Pan is more effective in depicting the tension that thrums through this novel. The fear on the man’s face is evident, even if this cover is clearly dated and of its time.


Published by Ace, this is another older cover full of drama and darkness. The crashed plane, the dark landscape and the chevron-shaped title and author name is attention-grabbing and links directly to the book’s content. This one is my favourite, despite its evident age.


This cover, produced by Ballantine, is another one full of drama with the plane evidently losing height and a mountain in the background looming menacingly. The prominence of the author’s name indicates that it was produced at the height of his popularity.


This Kindle edition, produced by Lion Books in May 2014 is another innocuous, well behaved effort that shows us a cloudscape from a plane seat. It is another cover that isn’t bothering to reach out to customers – a shame, really as it is a book that deserves to be read, like all his books. Which is your favourite?

31 responses »

  1. Pingback: The Friday Face-Off: Don’t Use The Phone – Books by Proxy

  2. Hmm, tricky one. I love the style of the Vintage Classic, but I’m not sure it works brilliantly as a cover. As you say, it’s a little too restrained.

    Although clearly of its time, I think I am going to go with the Ballantine entry, for the sense of impending doom that comes with that scene!

  3. As far as modern covers go, I really do like that first one, especially with the subtle play that crashed plane has in the background. “Oh look, an older man hiking DEAR GOD WHAT HAPPENED BACK THERE?!” But you’re right about the title–it’s totally lost in such wee, thin print in the corner. A little more oomph to the font would’ve done wonders.

    That said, I agree with you about the chevron 60s drama cover. The crashed plane in the darkness is really startling and compelling despite the bold reviews shoved into the corners. That last one…it’s like someone in Amazon was given a list of older titles that have to be put on Kindle, that someone read approximately two sentences about the book, and just went with whatever was easiest. Ugh.

    And now I’m intrigued by yet another author you find. Well played, Sarah, yet again! 😉

    • Thank you, Jean:). Nevil Shute is a real favourite – his first novel was published in 1926 and produced a book almost every two years until 1960 and most of them are highly readable, with a handful being futuristic and a couple with a twist of fantasy. I grew up reading him as Gran had a number of his books and they were also available from the library. I think you’ll find he is still in print and you can get hold of his writing really easily. ‘A Town Like Alice’ and ‘On the Beach’ are his most famous – but I love ‘The Black Stump’, ‘Requium for a Wren’ and ‘In the Wet’. That said, I’ve never yet read a book of his I didn’t like…

  4. Your favorite is definitely my favorite this week. I do agree that the artwork is dated, but it’s also the cover that grabbed my attention most, mostly because it made me think, “Oh gosh. What happened? Did anyone survive?” All questions that would compel a potential reader to pick it up, right? 🙂

  5. I really like the Vintage cover – it would catch my eye but I agree that it’s far too restrained in representing what the novel is about. The cover you like best definitely represents the book better than any of the other covers – you can see immediately that there’s been a plane crash and want to know what happened and that would make a reader pick the book up.

      • No, I think that was Joseph Heller. Nevil Shute was an English author who wrote between 1926 and 1960 and was very popular – his books are still in print. His most famous book, which was made into a film is ‘A Town Like Alice’. They made a film of it and we studied it at school. After reading ‘Alice’, which blew me away as a schoolgirl, I got hold as many of his books as I could and Himself has an impressive collection of his work as he is also a huge fan.

  6. Can’t say I’m in love with any of these covers, but the first one appeals to me – ironically, precisely because it is so restrained. The other ones are too “busy” for me, I really like the clean lines and open spaces of this one.

    • And that’s why cover design is such a dark art – and why I LOVE doing these posts. To me, it’s self-evident that it just doesn’t have sufficient tension, yet you prefer the cleaner look. Isn’t it marvellous that we are all so different?

  7. I seem to love the majority of Vintage Classics covers – they always have something about them! This one is no exception, I think the first cover is wonderful! Very evocative – I almost feel like I’ve been transported into the story just by looking at it! 😀

  8. That first cover makes me think of Lost lol. I like the art on the first cover best, but yeah, the title ought to be a little more prominent. The Ace cover is the most eye-catching though. The kindle one is kind of… sad. It looks like something made in 30 second in a paint program :-/

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