Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. I thought this would be a fun way to share a condensed version of potential rambles and thoughts that I have.
This Week’s Theme:
Top Ten Book Cover Trends
As the initial point of contact, a book cover doesn’t necessarily have to tell you what the book is going to be about any more than it should supplement the synopsis in doing so. But sometimes it gets perplexing when we start to form judgments based on simply the face value of the cover. Here are some trends I’ve noticed spread across the genres. I thought about including the book covers that would fit these categories…but decided against it. In doing this, I hope that when you read the trend being listed, you can conjure up book covers that you’ve personally come across and can relate to it even more.
Feel free to hit me up with notable culprits of these trends in the comments below!
Pretty sure the genre most guilty of this is YA contemporary romance. At least for these no-face pictures, you can basically plug-and-play your favourite face into the character and live out whoever you think it might be. But it seems kind of cookie-cutter to me where it’s almost set in stone that the couple on the cover (using the synopsis as a guideline) is the be-all-end-all. So it’s almost as if you’ve read the ending (because potential happily-ever-after shipping is the most important trope, right?) and then you’re basically backtracking to the front to view the spectacle of drama leading up to it. Though, these are just my thoughts considering I don’t read too many YA contemporary.
Now, I’m not one to have read many novels where there is an evident POC protagonist but it’s still a steady issue for book covers where characters of colour are being depicted by white-skinned models or are graphically illustrated and enhanced to look a certain way all because of its superficial value and societal perception of thinking otherwise.
To further tangent this idea, let’s consider the recently trended hashtag: #WeNeedMoreDiverseBooks. There are diverse books if you know where you look. There are also diverse books that simply aren’t receiving visibility and exposure. Sale-value, for what it’s worth, is pretty superficial and a shitty criteria to mainly consider (not saying this is the only thing being looked at though). Crowd hype trending has made it known that readers want more diverse books. But where does it begin? It begins with accepting the idea that you can’t have it both ways: where readers want diversity but then become perplexed to see a POC being at the forefront. Take for example casting of movies. When someone doesn’t look like a viable candidate for a role. People scream expletives about why they imagined a certain character to be [often pointing to a white-skinned candidate instead].
The world is full of colour. You can’t possibly hope for diversity while allowing things like whitewashing to occur. It’s an inevitable cycle that won’t truly end…but that doesn’t mean the cycle isn’t malleable. Readers want more diversity but can often act in ways that turn off the idea of it (re: because questioning normalcy isn’t the cool thing to do). If-then, publishers (in my view) may not be inclined to deliver due to market reach and the scope of what people will want to see. But change has to start somewhere. And if we can’t remedy the core problem rooted in human nature itself, a symptom is as good as any place to start. Publishers need to be aware that whitewashing isn’t okay—just as much as the public eye is becoming more resilient to social equality. This isn’t the early 70’s (or whatever generation you want to consider). The movement of diversity in books is not a radical change by any means when there’s already a shift in thinking. Call it’s wishful thinking…but whitewashing is a step backwards, not forwards.
Because you’re as good as dead if you remain stagnant.
I haven’t even scratched the surface of this topic. Hopefully, everything makes sense in relation to each other. I apologize for it getting ranty. Onward….
Shirtless Industry Professionals Men
You’ve seen one…you’ve seen them all. No? Well, shit, I can’t explain why this is a trend anymore than just people wanting the eye candy. I feel as though people might not even care that they could be the most horridly described character in the novel but all is well in the world with the right set of protein-injected muscle.
When Blockbusters Get a Movie Adapted Cover
This one is a doozy. I understand why they do it—it’s a money grab. People who haven’t read the book but have seen the movie may be more inclined to pick up the block of pages if they enjoyed the screen adaptation. That’s fair.
Then there are genuine realists: the books are usually better than the movies. So people may dislike it because…well, it’s the lesser cool one as it now has actors you may or may not like on it and your perception on the original is simply tainted. Even if you aren’t going to admit it: what’s seen cannot be unseen. Basically.
But from a convention-goer and cosplay perspective, I actually have a lot of thanks to give to screen adaptations for bringing characters to life in such a manner that people can cosplay (or dress up) as their favourite character of choice. Basic source material, for the creatively challenged (raises hand), is often difficult to re-imagine into a life-sized, scaled prop or costuming. With characters in movies (and inadvertently the tie-in movie covers), half the work is already done and all that’s left is for costumers to replicate the images seen. Halloween called…they want a recall on the witches and bed-sheet ghosts. Apparently, people wan’t to get treats or party as Katniss and Peeta-Bread. So from this angle, I can sort of appreciate it? But that doesn’t mean I’ll go throw money at these covers though.
Pausing the Image: Wind, Billow, Floating, Defying Gravity
I combined them all because they’re like…almost the same thing. In most cases, there’s something dynamic and striking about seeing an image as if it’s a pause in time.
When In Doubt: Add Lens Flare
Word is that there’s a subsection in the Book Cover 101 Handbook that states: “when in doubt, add lens flare.”
I’m not chirping its value. I don’t hate it. I don’t love it. It’s just there (even if they’re in the most unusual place where it doesn’t make for there to be light.)
EXCESSIVELY LARGE AND IN-YOUR-FACE TYPOGRAPHY
I’m talking about the covers that basically are end-to-end filled with text and weird, quirky, unnecessarily large typography. Sometimes, the texts fit around a certain image or illustration as well. And sometimes they’re in all-caps…and I’m just sitting here thinking: “STOP YELLING AT ME.” No? Just me? Damn.
Images, Emblems, or Symbols of Textual Importance
Not sure if this is really a trend or if it’s just simply purposeful designing to incorporate and follow a series of interconnecting themes on the title page. Personally, while it often may not result in the most striking cover…it’s the one that does certainly make the most contextual sense after the book is read. A definite bonus is when the book spine follows the same pattern or detailing of an image.
The Creative Value of Magnifying Parts of the Body
Half a face? Headless body? Random limb? Quarter of a face? A patch of skin? Just an eye?
I’m waiting for a cover to just feature a picture of an ear that leads into some alternate world or maybe even a nose being…a nose. Other body parts need love too, not just the eye (which I’ve recently seen a lot of). Or maybe there just wasn’t enough in the budget to pay for the actors full reveal. Now that’s a thought. But the biggest letdown is when characters are seen in full profile (with or without their head) but they’re not even the same person as described in the novel.
Females in Extravagant Dresses and Gowns
Poor girl who becomes a martyr? Let’s give her a billowy dress.
A girl doing laundry, going to work and doing regular people stuff? Let’s give her an expensive ball gown to do it all in.
But hey, maybe it’s the norm for people to want to live a life of constant corsets and poofy dresses. I’m not judging (yes, I totally am). Someone needs to write a novel about the poor seamstress who has to go through the hassle of making all these clothes. Seriously.
Note: I generalized females particularly (instead of opening it up to characters; i.e. those of the LGBTQ niche) because they’re the ones on covers that’s socially acceptable to see. That’s another rant on it’s own so I’ll save you of that.
This took excessively long to write because of that one topic above. So while it is Wednesday, the importance of the whitewashing topic required a posting. There was more, actually, but I had to cut some out. Hope this imageless post still works out for you!