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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weekend Discussion: Book Covers

This week started out with a bang.  Many of you took notice of Ari's open letter to Bloomsbury and like me, felt the need to write in disappointment to Bloomsbury.  If it wasn't for Ari, who knows how long it would have taken for the cover to change?  And that's being optimistic.  It might not have been pointed out at all.

The attention drawn to Jaclyn Dolamore's Magic Under Glass, of course, also due to the recent controversy over the cover of Justine Larbalestier's Liar.  As both cases have taught us: covers don't always accurately represent what's inside of a book.  The old adage rings true: You can't judge a book by its cover.

This weekend's discussion is all about book covers.  Covers have the distinguished burden of being the first impression readers get of a book.  In some cases, a book cover can make or break a sell.  No matter how much I hate to use use the example: pairing a tanned and sculpted male with an open (or no) shirt on a cover holding a buxom female with long, flowing hair is sure to send a red flag of recognition to readers: this book is primarily a romance.  Some readers may not even bother picking this one up to read the jacket copy--it'll be left on the shelf.  Who needs to make sure it's not a romance, when, chances are, further exploration will probably confirm suspicions?  On the other hand, using the same assumptions (man and woman in a compromising pose plus loss of certain articles of clothing equals at least one hot romantic scene), other readers may snatch this book off the shelves, eager to read.  Covers, like names, can be very important things.
Aside from Magic Under Glass and Liar, what book covers have you seen that appear at odds with the contents of what's inside?  If you haven't come across any glaringly wrong covers, then what book (or books) do you wish had a better cover?  What would you put on it instead?

I'm going to pick on the UK cover of Jessica Verday's The Hollow.  This edition has a bright purple pendant attached to a satin ribbon--different from the US cover only in its lack of a stunning heroine.  I actually liked that there was no person on this cover.  It let the necklace speak for itself.  What plot, I wondered, surrounded the necklace?  What weight must it bear, what significance to have been featured so prominently, so lonely, so bravely, on this cover?

It really has nothing to do with much of anything.  The actual necklace in the book is not purple or magenta, it's blue.  That, and, the necklace wasn't as high of a priority in the book as I first thought.  So, mine isn't really a big deal, but I felt a little mislead.

What about you? Let me know what you think!


Anonymous said...

I don't really remember being particularly miffed at a cover (but I'm pretty forgiving so long as the lack of proper representation isn't offensive and the cover is aesthetically pleasing).

I do remember complaining about the title of The Concubine's Daughter because although the daughter figured into a large portion of the story, the tale was really about the granddaughter.

Erika said...

@TJ: That's exactly the kind of response I was looking for! Sometimes covers make less sense after we've read the books. Instead of an, "Oohh!" response, there's more of a, "huh?" ;)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...let me think... I know I babble about covers all the time, but my biggest issue is when the book isn't nearly as compelling as the cover it's given, you know? If I think of any specific examples along the lines you're discussing, I'll let you know. :)


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