1. Black cover: “York Notes Advanced”
Small picture at the top, cropped really awkwardly so that we are not focussed on the person (presumably, Stevens) but on what he is doing or looking at. This emphasis, similar to a traditional understanding of English stoicism, highlights the occupation and environment as opposed to the person.
Audience for students because of publication series labeled on the front.
2. Class cover: “Vintage International”
Large, sepia image, also blurry and contrasty so we don’t see the details as much as the mood or atmosphere. There are no people, so again, focus is on the occupation and environment instead of the individual.
This is the edition our class has, but with a sepia-toned award seal that reads, “Winner of the Booker Prize.” The seal, vintage publishing, and focus on the author’s name (in bold at the top) cater to a literary audience or Ishiguro fans.
3. Clock cover: “Faber and Faber 1989”
More of a traditional appeal with the old-fashioned English pocket watch. It’s a Western ideal of symbolism because there is no relevant watch in the book, so the purpose is to evoke a feeling or a time. The font is also traditional, as well as the red dash which is like an award ribbon in the corner.
The Booker Prize is displayed for those who like traditional and reviewed novels about old Britain.
The close-up image of the Dandelion seeds blowing in the wind evoke the calmness of the country and a sense of movement. Since it’s not stagnant, it represents change and the passage of time.
It has a quotation on the bottom to offer a good review and target the audience in Britain.
Just like the others, this cover has similar warm-tones, but the calmness of these tones is counteracted by the rigidity of the image. While it depicts a person (probably Stevens), it is a caricature of him – not a realistic but an artistic interpretation similar to Picasso’s style (also relevant because of Picasso’s popularity during that time).
It not only mentions the Booker Prize, but also the “Major Motion Picture” and a quotation by another reputable author as selling-features of the novel’s worthiness and/or popularity.
Conclusions? That these images are as minimal as possible and mainly focus on occupation, place, or time instead of a character portrayal. It might just be the publisher's preference for symbolism... what do you think?