top of page

International covers of His Dark Materials

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Previously I've looked at the progression of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, through its many editions, firstly in its native UK arket, and then in the US market.

Today I'm going to look at some of the history of how the book has appeared in non-English-language versions.

First, I think it's worth recapping at the top what books exist in the His Dark Materials publication history and what years each came out in the UK to help contextualise what we'll see other markets doing in this post.

His Dark Materials I: Northern Lights 1995 (paperback 1996)

His Dark Materials II: The Subtle Knife 1997 (pb 1998)

His Dark Materials III: The Amber Spyglass 2000 (pb 2001)

Lyra’s Oxford* 2003

Once Upon a Time in the North* 2008

The Collectors* 2014 as audio/ebook; (physical edition 2022)

The Book of Dust I: La Belle Sauvage 2017 (pb 2018)

The Book of Dust II: The Secret Commonwealth 2019 (pb 2019)

The Book of Dust III (title as yet unknown) (forthcoming; pub date tbc)

Serpentine* 2020

*The asterisked titles are the ‘small books’, physically small books each containing a single short story or novella, sometimes alongside additional ephemera from the wider world of the series.

Obviously I can't seek to be comprehsive about covering every edition of all of these books across every market in the world. One of the ways in which I will be being selective is focusing almost exclusively on editions of the core His Dark Materials trilogy. Because these books are the core of the wider franchise, and because they are the oldest, these have the widest variety and longest history of interesting editions to discuss.

However, there are also some beautiful and unique editions of the other books from the wider list which I wouldn't want to leave out so here and there I have talked about foreign language editions of installments from The Book of Dust or of the 'small books'.

The other way in which I have been selective is that I have left out editions which I simply don't think are very interesting.

Since these books have recieved two major screen adapatations (the cinematic adaptation of Northern Lights/The Golden Compass in 2007) and the BBC/HBO TV adaptation of the full trilogy (2019-2022) there have been points where editions across the world have defaulted to tie-in editions, which due to tight studio control of licenced imagery don't show a lot of variation from each other.

Additionally there are many editions internationally that employ artwork we have already seen - artwork reused from UK or US editions.

That is always a popular choice with books in translation - existing art is both a proven quantity and saves paying to commission new artwork too!

And further still, some countries simply don’t have a strong motivation to publish their own local versions of English-language books at all, but simply import or reprint the English-language version - because their populations speak English so widely and well anyway.

For the curious, the most popular choices in terms of reusing artwork have been the artwork from the original US publications by Eric Rohmann (Lyra riding Iorek/Lyra and Will with leopard-Pantalaimon/Lyra and Will in the world of the dead); and the artwork by David Scutt from the original UK publications which are of each book’s central object (alethiometer/knife/spyglass).

Reusing existing artwork doesn't mean that there's no varriety and creativity to be noted though, and I've included some of the foreign editions of Northern Lights (also called The Golden Compass) below to provide a glimpse at some of the wide variety of uses to which the Eric Rohmann and David Scutt artwork for that novel has been put.

That leads me to the first country I'll talk about, as their first set does reuse the Eric Rohmann art, but with an interesting wrinkle:


These editions, which Salani started putting out from 1998 use the artwork by Eric Rohmann which was created for the books' original US editions.

Or rather, they reuse the US artwork for the first and third books of the trilogy, but this set’s The Subtle Knife actually uses an unfamiliar piece of art. It looks like it was also painted by Rohmann. My guess for the source of this alternate art would be the artwork originally existed in US publisher Knopf's files as a ‘killed’ cover (i.e. a cover direction that publishers ultimately decided against in favour of another), and the Italian publishers happened to prefer this to the final option that their US counterparts ultimately chose.

Something else worth noting is that this edition of The Amber Spyglass is a bit of a departure in terms of layout from its predecessors, because that represents a slight trend with non-English editions - to see matching editions of Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife, with an edition of The Amber Spyglass being either a departue or altogether absent.

It's obviously standard for translated editions of a book to come out at least a year or two after the original-language publication. With His Dark Materials that put most foreign-language publishers in a position to plan Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife at the same time, wheras The Amber Spyglass had to be planned separately a couple of years later.

The Amber Spyglass also represented something of a departure of market-placement, ambition and theme compared to the previous installment.

In its native land, the publishers of His Dark Materials were able and motivated plan well ahead for the forthcoming trilogy. Pullman here had a direct relationship with his publisher which gave the latter. They had both a lot of insight into, and a lot of faith in, the project that Pullman envisaged. They were able to plan their design direction with some sense of this future in mind.

As well as lacking this level of insight into the ongoing project, foreign language publishers might also have different cultural positions on certain themes and content that they didn't know to expect to emerge increasingly strongly. For instance, strongly Catholic countries might see the anti-religious/Catholicism-critical themes as positioning the book as moe inappropriate for the juvenile market than others.

In the above Italian editions, as with the American editions from which they take their art, a slight shift to a more mature look is visible in the above editions.

In 2010, Italy saw the following editions. The first cover is again a version of artwork from a US edition - this time a version of the US's 20th Anniversary edition, which is after all by an by Italian artist, Iacopo Bruno. The covers of the other books though are by UK artist Kay Baylay.

Kay Baylay had already worked on UK editions, illustrating the cover of an omnibus edition, published in 2011 for both the UK and US markets. But the below editions do not reuse that artwork, but feature specially commissioned work.

That approach is the first instance we’ll see of another slight trend across international editions in addition to reusing UK or US edition art, which is that artists who have already worked on UK or US editions are comissioned, but to produce new work.

I have never found Baylay's omnibus cover quite to my taste, but I find their Beardsley-nouveau style to work much better here - especially in La Lama Sottile/The Subtle Knife. I just wonder why neither Baylay nor Bruno was given the full trilogy to cover.

Finally, the current standard Italian paperbacks, published by TEA take the 'reuse' path again, this time employing John Lawrence's lovely woodcut art originally created for some mid-2000s UK editions, paired here with some nice typography:


The French editions follow a similar trajectory as the Italian:

Earlier editions used the Eric Rohmann artwork, and just as in Italy, more recent editions use original artwork from an artist already used on UK editions:

For the below 2017 editions publisher Gallimard Jeunesse used art by UK artist Chris Wormell. Wormell's work currently adorns the standard paperbacks in that territory of both His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust, and he is also the artist of the illustrated editions (published both in the UK and the US).

So these French edition use an artist already attached to His Dark Materials by an English-speaking market, but commission from him new work rather than reusing what he's already done.

Personally I much prefer these French covers to Wormell’s UK covers of the same books. The UK editions feature on each cover that book’s central fantastical object – the alethiometer, the knife and the spyglass respectively – which is a popular choice that sometimes has gorgeous results, but has also resulted in some really boring covers.

Wormell’s covers are far from the dullest of this direction and his work is technically impeccable, but I do find his UK His Dark Materials covers lacking in atmosphere. His French covers are way more to my taste and the decorative work done by the designer is very well-devised to frame his careful woodcut lines with something more airy and lively to give a greater overall effect than I believe the UK covers quite manage.

France also has its own editions for the Book of Dust books, for which it also commissioned Chris Wormell. I like how the compositional theme of having the protagonist/s placed centrally and heading straight for the viewer gives a powerful propulsive feel.


Spain has opted for original artwork from the start. In 1997 publisher Círculo de Lectores put out this edition of Northern Lights and matched it in time with one for The Subtle Knife.

There's clearly some care and skill in the painting and text treatment, and I would be happy to put the 'floating city' image down to metaphor rather than a confused understanding of the 'city in the sky' concept from the novel, but it's a shame that the city is so obviously referenced to the rather recognisable Mont Saint-Michel.

Really lovely covers weren't far behind, though. From 1998, these were put out by Ediciones B first as hardbacks and later paperbacks:

These are longstanding favourites of mine for their style being so different to the usual illustrative approach to His Dark Materials while still feeling apt and evocative.

I err more towards youthful/lighthearted than dull in my tastes for these books. I’d sooner have covers which are a little too junior feeling than covers which make the books look worthy and dull. These are children’s books and don't stop being that because adults rate them too. There’s something very magical to me about having such rich texts contained within a package that really looks like a children's book.

Another set came out in Spain in 2007 from Círculo de Lectores:

They're not as finely rendered but I find these oddly charming in their interpretation of the book’s images.

Spain's editions for The Book of Dust are also interesting. They both have original artwork but in totally different styles from each other.

I haven't included Spain's current editions of His Dark Materials because they reuse existing UK art without adding anything interesting. Specifically they reuse the Helen Crawford-White designs that adorned the UK paperbacks for most of the 2010s. But the cover, seen below, for L'Alianca Secreta / The Secret Commonwealth below clearly matches into that and looks to be done by Crawford-White. This is original work for the Spanish market, not seen in the UK. Weirdly, though, the first Book of Dust book has unrelated, stylistically very different work.


Portugal started out with reused UK artwork and their current editions do likewise, but in 2001 Portuguese publisher Editorial Presença did put out a unique set:

I find the loose watercolour aesthetic and bright palette unique and quite charming.


Germany has opted for original covers from the start, and they really nailed it from the start. Even though Germany started publication as early as 1996, they stuck to their original design direction and by 2000 there was a perfectly matched trilogy.

So various versions of these covers, published by Heyne, have been around in Germany from the off:

In depicting the popular Lyra-riding-Iorek subject, some versions (like Eric Rohmann's) are so effective by framing the action head on, and frame-fillingly large. This edition pushes the other way, emphasising the vastness of the environment by having Iorek and Lyra in a long 'shot'. It's a trick carried effectively across the subsequent books of the trilogy in this set, and it makes these books feel suitably grand in scale and intriguing by placing their subjects as small and vulnerable in big landscapes.

In addition to these beautes, Germany has seen another couple of sets with original artwork.

I wasn't able to find a lot of clear information on the following set. It's one of those for which as far as I can tell no matching edition for The Amber Spyglass ended up being published. My guess is that the above covers were originally published as hardbacks with these as the corresponding paperbacks during the later-90s period when the books were still emerging.

While the hardback direction felt adult enough to encompass the final book, this fun and cartoony paperback direction might have been felt too light for The Amber Spyglass so the direction was dumped and a new paperback direction was devised for the whole set.

Again, I personally really enjoy the cartoony style which is in such contrast to most approaches to covering these books. I find it surprising too that this subject of Will stepping through the world-window isn't more popular on covers of The Subtle Knife, as it's an image that so invites one in to find out what he's seeing on the other side.

Another set of editions with original artwork came out in 2002 from Carlsen.

I like the Northern Lights, but I think the quality of these drops off in the subsequent books (the face on The Amber Spyglass who I presume to be Mary Malone even looks like in could be a reuse of Lyra’s face from the first).


The Netherlands have had various mismatched editions over the years, of which I've included a few here.

I like this Northern Lights, published 1996 by Bakker, which I think looks somewhat influenced by the UK's first paperback, and its art by Stuart Williams.

For a country with a slightly haphazard approach to His Dark Materials itself the Netherlands has strikingly consistent gorgeous covers for The Book of Dust:

These use a woodcut aesthetic (possibly literal but my guess would be digitally realised here) which is a popular choice for these books. While it’s a very apt look, it’s possible for the approach to end up looking too staid or stuffy or dull of palette - for my tastes at least. But these are beautifully balanced, with the oblique title typography bringing a lot of energy and romance in.


Denmark is a country which has mostly opted for editions which reuse existing artwork, but have had one set with unique imagery. These came out in 2001 from Gyldendal.

I can't decide if I mind or not that, though the layout and starry background strongly uniforms the set, each has such a different approach to its featured illustration.

The title text being vertical certainly gives this set a distinctive look and I wonder if it’s a popular choice in book cover design for languages like Danish which because of the cumulative mechanism in the grammar tend to generate long words compared to a language like English. Longer words are of course hard to fit across book covers which are taller than they are wide, so this is a useful solution.

More recently, in 2017, the publisher put out this set:

I like these but they feel as if they could be tightened. I think it's because on each cover, every one of the elements - byline, title, object illustration, circular vignette thing - all have about the same visual weight so one's eye drifts a bit listlessly across it all. A cover like this could rely instead on the intricacy of its details for effect but the flourishes are all generic and unchanging across the covers so it lacks that sense of careful craft that could make them really special. The little lenticular vignetty things are a bit odd too and feel like a vote of no-confidence in the overall style by crowbarring in an illustration.


Iceland is another country which has mostly imported artwork for its editions, but did have one set of original covers published in 2000 by Mál og menning.


Norway has had a mixture of covers that reuse the UK artwork, and original editions. With thanks to my Norwegian correspondent Martin, firstly we have a set which started out in 1997 and never quite made it to a third from Aschehoug:

I am able to provide a rare credit for the creative team. These were put together by Substrata with illustrations by Ruben Eliassen who as I understand it is also a children’s author in his own right!

These make me nostalgic for late-90s book design which would often have so many layers of illustration and decoration to be intrigued by before reading the book, and pore over after.

There is also a set from 2003, published by De norske Bokklubbene which take quite a different direction.

I feel as if these might be influenced by my favourite US editions which came out a year before these, which use antique-style constellation illustrations featuring Ursa Major, Gemini and winged Virgo respectively. I love the atmosphere.


I’ve omitted from this list a couple of sets from various countries which I consider really dull even if the artwork is technically original, but I thought these were on the borderline of being worth showing, if only to have an example of the ‘so respectable they're boring’ school of design. These, published by Natur & Kultur in 2005, are at least nicely laid out.

The same publisher did something much more fun in 2018 with this set:

I particularly like the illustrations for The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. One of the pleasures of looking at international editions is getting to see different moments depicted, or moments depicted through different interpretations. This is a beautifully eerie Cittagazze and a very evocative vision of the World of the Dead respectively.

There are also matching editions for the Book of Dust books:


Finland have some unique editions published in 2018 by Otava:

I had to double check that I had the books in the right order because the cover of the Amber Spyglass is much more redolent of the choices familiar to covering Northern Lights – a white and blue palette, the Iorek and Lyra pair, the aurora-like light in the sky. But I like these very much, enjoying the unusually abstracted and artsy approach to the illustration, the translucent layers of colour and the dreamy atmosphere.


Lithuania has had three editions of the trilogy as far as I can tell – one set of film tie-ins; the current set which uses Russian artwork (shown under that country’s entry a little further on); and before both of them a unique set which Tyto Alba embarked on in 1997:

The familiar Lyra-riding-Iorek subject is given an entertainingly metal - literally - treatment here and there's some pleasing creativity to the subject choice of the other covers, with a real Moebius aesthetic to The Amber Spyglass.


Poland’s first publication of Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife used original cover art, though this set didn’t quite make it to the third. They were published in 1998 by Prószyński iS-ka SA:

I like the Northern Lights in particular, which works similarly to the German edition I praised earlier by placing Lyra and Iorek as small middle-distant figures against a vast sky.

The next set, published in 2004 by Wydawnictwo Albatros, has just about snuck through both my ‘reuses UK art’ and ‘is a bit dull’ filters because I think the cut-through device makes these more unique and interesting than they appear at a glance. We also see again the ‘constellation’ motif used, presumably influenced by those lovely 2002 US editions and it really lifts the covers.

The current editions, published in 2018 by MAG, are similarly near that borderline of potential dullness.

The Northern Lights cover is the weak link here. A compass dial is a relevant enough object to depict, this being a book all about heading north, but the problem is that a compass dial is such a generic image and just feels cliparty. Of this set, the other volumes have far more specific character that might actually draw in a reader.

A much more personal niggle is the crossed lines across each cover. To my designer’s eyes those look like the lines on a graphic in the process of being resized!

However this style works particularly well as the direction is continued across the books of The Book of Dust:


Some extremely striking editions came out of the Czech Republic in 2002 from Classic:

I rather like the first jacket. It’s generally well-painted and imagined. The full jacket artwork, below, does have one really comical portrayal, which is a the Suffragette-looking Mrs. Coulter and her orangutan daemon but I wonder if comes from a mistake in the text’s translation rather than artist confusion since there’s clear care and accuracy seen elsewhere in the art.

The sequels get progressively wilder, and use not-very expertly-done montage rather than original painting. I rather enjoy how very late-90s/early-200s the The Subtle Knife looks between the yin yang and Lyra’s vest – though in fairness the book does prominently feature the I Ching and I think that lizard motif is in fact Pantalaimon!

Lyra being carried by a harpy with all the convingingness of a Terry Gilliam animation on The Amber Spyglass is also great.


Slovakia has mostly gone for UK-artwork-using editions, but also have a set with original imagery which were published by Ikar in 2003:

Though the covers have dated and the the faces are a weak spot (Lyra’s too young, Lord Asriel is Professor X and Will is Haley Joel Osment) they're not sloppy.


Having previously had covers which utilised UK graphics, in 2017 Hungary got some fabulous original editions from Cicero publishing:

The artwork is by Budapest-based Timi Pookah Cserny and it's worth checking out the full jacket art here The typography is by Gabor Csigas.

It’s another example of the popular woodcut trend, and I think these are hard to beat in that category. The potentially staid look of the style is balanced by some lovely flowing shapes to the background.

What's more, this look was carried straight across Hungary's editions of The Book of Dust:

The one thing that's a shame is that it looks like the same artist wasn't able to return for The Secret Commonwealth, meaning it has a slightly different look which is particularly felt in the much less fine work on the textures.


Croatia got in early with a matched set, with SysPrint publishing Northern Lights in 1998 in the cover below and completing the set (though with a new artist as far as I can tell) in 2000.

Northern Lights with its by-now-familiar head-on framing of Iorek is the most effective as a cover but the busy action of The Amber Spyglass, and its Germanic Iorek, is fun.

Croatia more recently issued really nice covers, though, with Lumen putting these out in 2017.

I like these a lot and for me The Subtle Knife is particularly effective. One small detail I really like on Northern Lights too is how the aurora is forming roof shapes at the top of some of its 'sheets' though it's a shame that detailing is somewhat buried uner the byline.


Apart from editions which directly import UK artwork, Serbia also has the set below which have a slightly less direct UK origin and were published by Laguna in 2018.

These closely resemble what were the standard paperbacks in the UK in the 2010s, the ones designed by Helen Crawford-White. My guess would be that she didn't also design these herself since the stylising is a little less consistent than her own. I noted when I talked about UK coves that those UK covers felt a little 'cliparty' to me, but if that was just a feeling there, it's certain here - the Halloween witch silhouette on The Subtle Knife is a very funny detail that rather gives the game away!

Serbia is also a country with much less attention paid to its editions of His Dark Materials, slightly oddly, than its editions of The Book of Dust. These are also published by Laguna, and once again successfully employ a ‘printed’ look but in this case more of an etched or lithograph look than a woodcut.


Romania has had a couple of its own sets, both of which are slightly on the duller side, but nicely executed. Firstly these in 2014 from Arthur publishing:

And these in 2017 by the same house:


Nebo Booklab of Ukraine published a set of pretty special editions, starting in 2019.

The illustrator is Nadiia Doicheva and she is not only responsible for the covers but much more because these are fully illustrated editions. The full set of illustrations she created for Northern Lights can see seen here, on her Behance:

As far as I know, Ukraine's editions of the books of The Book of Dust aren't illustrated and the covers aren't quite as beautiful but they're not bad at all:


Russia sure didn't start strong, with the first editions being these ones published in 2005 by 2005 by Росмэн (Rosmen):

But in 2016 ACT improved vastly upon these, with hardback editions featuring work by Andrew Ferez:

The look is perhaps fluffier than the trilogy's exact tone but it's pretty irresistibly sumptuous.

I have the Northern Lights edition in my collection, so I can also attest that it has some lovely extra touches, with endpapers printed with gold ink, and a dust-cover that folds out to a poster of the Alethiometer:

The publisher extended the look across the Book of Dust books, seen centrally and to the right below. The cover of The Secret Commonwealth with Pantalaimon amongst roses is probably my favourite of the whole set.

They also published a volume called Lyra Belacqua which is a bind-up of the earlier two of the ‘small books’ – i.e. Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in the North - seen here on the left. The illustrator for this appears to be a different one from the others but I also really like the slightly more storybook look chosen for this content.

And though it's beyond the remit of this write-up, I also love the Russian edition of Daemon Voices which is a collection of Pullman’s writing on the subject of writing, stories and imagination:


For Turkey I have some ebooks to show, a format I've mostly omitted but this artwork is great and it has an interesting history.

The art was created as a fan work by US book designer M. S. Corley in 2009, reimagining the books in the style of classic Penguins. To be honest, I'm not wholly convinced the Turkish repurposing is even authorised by the artist as the changes aren't done with Corley's standards - the Turkish titles are inserted with no adherence to the 'Marber grid' layout or fonts that bring the Penguin look together.

But the original design is great. It's easy to get some very boring or confusing results going for a minimalist look without real expertise, but these show how much a skilled practicioner can conjure with just three colours and a few lines.


The books were published in Hebrew in 2003 by Keter Book.

I really like these designs, especially the Northern Lights one which has a lovely palette, and features another cool presentation of the city/aurora image in the background.

The publisher hasn't opted to match these at all with their Book of Dust publishing (and as yet hasn't published The Secret Commonwealth).


China has had a few unique editions. I don’t have a date for the first set, published by Muse:

I like these, even with the literal compass illustration on Northern Lights. The delicate style allows for subtler intrigue, I think.

2019 saw two different new sets. Firstly these hardbacks by 麥田出版社 (Wheat Field Press):

These are perfectly pretty and look especially handsome seen on physical hardbacks, but I think their matching Book of Dust volumes improve the format, with the background images being specific illustrations rather than generic texture.

The other editions, which 文汇出版社 (Wenhui) put out the same year, are paperbacks but rather ‘prestige’ ones which have several full-colour illustrations inside as well as maps and a character sheet.

With The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass the artwork takes a liberty with literal detail, with Lyra riding a leopard in the second cover and a harpy in the third. The leopard is presumably picked up from the original US cover, which features a leopard-formed Pantalaimon prominantly, only with something being lost in communication because here Pantalaimon also appears elsewhere, ermine-formed.

My impression of the Chinese relationship with these books, based entirely on guesswork, is that they weren’t particularly known or popular until the 2008 movie which did pretty well in China. Thus the reference point for the series in that country is very The-Golden-Compass-focused and thus each cover evokes the movie poster of the little girl riding an exotic beastie.

It's also interesting and not perhaps unconnected if I'm at all right about that to see the Carnegie Medal being printed on the covers, which I don't believe I've seen since the first UK paperback of Northern Lights and I wouldn't have thought would carry so much weight outside the English-language market. Is it prioritised here to back up the movie tie with some literary bona fides? Ater all, it's printed on every cover not only Northern Lights which was the book that actually won the prize (one can see the bit of additional text on the other books above the medal presumably clarifying the point).

These also have matching Book of Dust editions, though this version of the Secret Commonwealth has not yet come out.

Interestingly, La Belle Sauvage is simply sold here as His Dark Materials 4 rather than under a new series name.


Some of my favourite editions of the books belong to Southeast Asia. I have had little-to-zero exposure to the book design of those regions before and the care and beauty seen in Vietnam’s and Indonesia’s editions of these books makes me keen to see more book design from those countries.

The Vietnamese editions published in 2019 by Wings Books go for a version of the careful woodcut aesthetic that has been popular.

The choice to centre each of the mystical objects which belong to the three books has been a popular one, but never done better than here, I think. I love how each background is a different elemental environment - ice, clouds and sea - each setting a different colour palette. I adore 'night mode' alethiometer. I love the sun rays on The Subtle Knife. I just love them!

The artist who created these covers is called Bảo Anh, and a little more of his other book covers as well as a glimpse into more Vietnamese book design can be seen here:

There are also lovely Vietnamese editions of the Book of Dust books, which have their own styling but I think are by the same artist.

Some details I really love are the author byline with its tallest letters extending past the bleed, and the haze of gold Dust at the top, and also how the gold lines that frame the title disappear behind elements of the illustration like the train’s steam.

These come in slipcases that look like this:


Completely different but also very impressive are the Indonesian editions published in 2018 by Gramedia Pustaka Utama.

One could describe the style as woodcut-esque again but to me its more redolent of something like early photography or lithography.

The Northern Lights cover is so evocative of the atmosphere of mystery and even ominous horror which is such a part of the book. The framing of Lyra and Iorek as distant, ambiguous figures, semi-obscured by atmospheric interference feels inspired by the description near the beginning of the photograms Lyra sees in the Retiring Room. Like those are to her, it’s an image that is both unsettling and compelling. One wants to know more but is a little afraid of what that might be. What a great idea for a cover image.

Indonesia also has lovely editions for The Book of Dust, which to my eyes look like maybe the same artist but working in different palettes:

South Korea

I’ve chosen to break my rule of omitting covers that reuse UK artwork and show the following South Korean editions because I think the way an East Asian publisher uses the artwork is different enough from a Western one to be worth including.


Japan has had some really nice editions - and what's more, the market often split longer books like these over two volumes, so we get twice the number of covers! As well as editions which utilise the original US artwork, we got these in 2003 from Shinchōsha:

These are ‘bunkobon’ format, meaning small (A6-sized) cheaply printed paperback books.

I like these but not as much as like the next set of editions which are in a larger, more prestigious printing. There are some nice interior touches to these, like each chapter starting with one of the symbols from the alethiometer. I find the illustration style for the frontpieces extremely charming:

There's also a more recent set of bunkobon editions which have lovely covers:

The artist here is Takumi, whose work can be seen here: These editions also continue into The Book of Dust, with covers for La Belle Sauvage existing - I hope we see one (or, rather, a pair) for The Secret Commonwealth presently too.


For our final country we hop across to Latin America and look at a set of editions that Objetiva published in Brazil in 2002:

It's a shame I can't find better images because these seem rather nice. The cover for The Subtle Knife uses the knife from the original UK edition painted by David Scutt but incoorporates it well, and the other books seem to have original depictions of their objects which I'd love to see more clearly.

More recently, the country has really lovely original editions for The Book of Dust.

I particularly like what these covers do with the text. The decorative touches to Pullman's byline are lovely.


Jan 14

Hi there, thank you for this article! I'll just clarify that Ukrainian editions of The Book of Dust are illustrated as well (there is at least one picture per chapter).


Lola Alisdair
Lola Alisdair
Apr 25, 2023

looks like the brazilian book of dust covers are by jean-michel trauscht!

bottom of page