Swedish vs. American: Harry Potter Covers

Music & Arts

Swedish vs. American: Harry Potter Covers

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the world’s introduction to Harry Potter, we couldn’t help but reflect on the books that have captured our hearts for so long. Some of you may remember holding one, or many, of the books tight as you walked through the hallways of school or sneaking one out to read after “lights out.”

According to the Scholastic website, “The Harry Potter books are distributed in over 200 territories, [have been] translated into 68 languages and have sold over 400 million copies worldwide.”

It’s not just the languages that vary in the books penned by J.K. Rowling from country to country, their cover art does as well. Cover art for novels can change based on the country in order to help readers better understand what the book is about or in an effort to appeal specifically to readers in a certain country.

The Swedish covers for the Harry Potter books were illustrated by Alvaro Tapia, who was born in Växjö, Sweden just after his parents moved there from Chile. Tapia’s artistic skills include animation, illustration, graphic design and concept design for computer games.

In his biography with Swedish book publisher Rabén & Sjögren, Tapia said, “My career has never been something I’ve been thinking about. It just happened.” When the publisher asked how he felt about seeing his art all around Sweden on the Harry Potter covers he responded, “Objectively, it is fun.” Tapia’s other interests include reading and studying history.

The original American cover art was done by Mary GrandPré and the newer American covers, which were released on the 15th anniversary of the first book, were created by writer and artist Kazu Kibuishi.

Without question, both the Swedish and American editions are beautiful. Which ones are your favorites?

Swedish covers
Original American covers

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