Top Ten Tuesday: Book Cover TrendsPosted: June 24, 2014
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday subject is book cover trends I like or dislike (or both!). I’ve mixed it up, colour-coding accordingly. But I can only think of two trends that I really dislike, and one I’m sitting on the fence on. Although there are bad examples of every trend I’ve listed, I’m more predisposed to loving the others.
I haven’t listed ten trends, only seven. That being said, I’ve got twelve examples of those seven. That TOTALLY counts, right?
Decapitated models. I’m not talking about covers that only show one part of the body, but the ones where the model is visible except for his or her (or their) face, which is cut off by the top of the page. It’s particularly common in YA at the moment—a popular example would The Moral Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare. (Although they have chins, I guess…) I get why book designers do this—to let the reader imagine the character’s appearance—but usually it looks to me like they couldn’t find the right model or, in the case of simpler covers (usually self-published), didn’t have the skills to Photoshop any changes required onto the stock image.
Body parts. It may seem fussy of me to not like decapitated models but like covers with body parts, but I do. It’s a question of whether it looks unfinished or deliberate. Twelve Steps by Veronica Bartles is an adorable example of only showing the feet that I think was done well; Cinder by Marissa Meyer is great too.
Models facing the other way. Another (IMO superior) way to not show the model’s face is to use stock where the model’s back is to the viewer. Ideally the thing they are looking at should also be interesting, and if they’re in a fabulous outfit all the better. The Archon by Sabrina Benulis is a good example of this. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake is another. (Their hair is blowing the same way. What’s that all about?!)
Inexplicable formalwear. I love a good ball gown as much as the next girl. But when a story has a modern setting and not a prom in sight, why is the main character dressed in a gown on the cover? Fallen by Lauren Kate has such a cover (and also a model hiding her face, although at least it hasn’t been lopped off). It’s gorgeous, but left me scratching my head.
Handwriting on a simple background. Although not my favourite cover type, this can be really striking when done right; at least, the covers certainly stand out. John Green’s The Fault in our Stars and J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy are both great, very distinct examples. I don’t know what Green’s other covers are like, but in Rowling’s case this style of cover tells the reader very clearly, “This isn’t Harry Potter!” It’s not my favourite cover (probably because of the colours) but I can see what it’s doing.
Abstract covers. I LOVE abstract covers—especially combined with bright colours (either a little splash or a whole lot). Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig (in fact, all of the Miriam Black books) has a great cover. Take a close look: Miriam is flying apart, into dozens of birds. How awesome is that? I also love this edition of The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth.
Silhouettes. Often these covers are also abstract (have another look at The Wild Girl, above), but not always. Silhouettes are another great way to let the reader imagine the character for themselves while still showing them. For example, Graceling by Kristin Cashore or Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey. (Yes, I know the top of Loup’s scalp in that second cover is missing. But her face is still there.)
What’s your favourite (or least favourite) cover trend?