Cover story

I do most of my reading on the bus. Recently I read a historical fiction novel, the cover of which had a lovely painting of a woman by some little known renaissance artist of the era. I pulled said novel out on the bus and was greeted with a shocked reaction by one of my fellow commuters. At first glance the only thing to really stand out on the cover was the woman’s exposed boobs (I confirmed this with a test book-cover-flash on my work colleagues when I got in).

It was not a boob novel.

Now I’m reading one of the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum novels, which has a ridiculous-looking scantily dressed bimbo on the cover. I got another odd glance from the guy sitting next to me on the bus on Friday night when I brought this out. I nearly said to him that it was much funnier than the cover made it out to appear. The truth is, if I hadn’t read previous novels in the series there is no way I would have picked this book up.

I think the old adage of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ is just too hard to live by. A book cover does something to communicate to the world what the book is about. With so many books out there to choose from, there has to be something quick that we can use to filter which book we want to pick up to find out more about it.

There are ‘tropes’ of book covers – hooded people for fantasy, brightly coloured cartoon style ladies (usually with large handbags) for chick lit, fuzzy-edged couples for romances etc.

It almost makes you want to put out a book which is all black with a basic grey font title. Or does that make it horror?

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