Monday, May 12, 2008

More on Covers, Part II

Boswellbaxter on HistoricalFiction alerted me to the following article on "body-part" covers and their unfortunate effect of turning off half of a novel's potential readership (ie. male readers), as well as dumbing-down the look of women's fiction.

Sarah Johnson on Reading the Past gives us a preview of forthcoming historical fiction, including the covers. Some are really beautiful. Be sure to read the comments that follow the post for some inside information on the headless woman trend.

I installed the Library Thing "Random Books from my Library" widget in the sidebar of my blog this weekend. Seeing the book covers displayed, I realized most of the books in my library have portraits of women with faces. I much prefer these to the headless type, even if the model's features don't necessarily match with the main character's. On the whole, though, all this talk about and examination of covers has proven to me that I tend to prefer the ones that feature landscapes or crowd scenes, like those on Dorothy Dunnett's novels.


Catherine Delors said...

Ah, book covers...
Great piece by Karen Heller, thank you for the link!
I too, if only on humane grounds, oppose the dismemberment of women.

Sarah said...

I didn't know I could get my LibraryThing books to show up on my blog as cover images rather than text w/links. Thanks for the info! I'm going to switch over to that version.

Julianne Douglas said...

Catherine, I owe the link to boswellbaxter on the HF forum. I think the author made some good points. The headless/faceless women on contemporary novels look even lamer than the ones on HF. At least the HF ones have pretty dresses to look at.

Julianne Douglas said...


Did you figure out how to switch? The covers look so much prettier. It really livens up the look of the blog, and I think readers are more apt to click on books that look intriguing (same as picking up books based on covers in the bookstore!) The power of the cover!

Sarah said...


I just got the book cover widget to work - pretty cool.

I agree with Heller that the headless women covers say "men go away," and that if publishers think they're making me identify more with the heroine by removing her head, they're nuts. I'm not sure that by getting rid of them, they'll sell more copies, though. The covers are there, unfortunately, because they do work (though I'm still hoping the trend its on its way out).

Anonymous said...

Okay yes, eye catching covers, but, a big attraction to me when shopping for a read is the title of the book, sparks the imagination, ya know? so how the title is represented on the cover could make a difference too. The cover for "Outlander" as an example! always, renee

Catherine Delors said...

Julianne, your quizzes are too tough!
2.a Not sure at all, though.
3. What kind of question is that? Bowling and tennis (or its ancestor, jeu de paume) were popular, but I remember Henry VIII was very proud of physical strength - and Francois I beat the crap out of him at wrestling at the Camp de Drap d'Or. So I'll say c, for the heck of it.

Julianne Douglas said...

Maybe it's a good thing I'm not a professor any more, huh? I'd get a rep for having killer tests. :)

Thanks for playing, Catherine. I'm going to move your answers up to the quiz thread in the hopes it will inspire others to try!