A book’s cover art is one of the most important sales tools in our business – it must appeal to the potential reader just as other forms of advertising do. It needs to be attractive, descriptive and, in my opinion, original.
Over the last year, I thought I must be imagining the fact that a huge number of my clients’ book covers were featuring women’s backs; at first I thought this was interesting and unique – and it was also inviting, urging the potential reader to imagine what the books’ heroines looked like. Then, I noticed that almost all I was seeing were covers with women’s backs on them. I didn’t say anything about this until about a week ago, and then in one of our staff morning meetings I asked, “What’s with all these covers with women’s backs on them?” In the beginning, I guess this conveyed a certain amount of mystery. And I know that authors often would prefer that the characters they portray in their novels be imagined by their readers rather than literally depicted on the covers. But so many backs?
My colleagues laughed and pointed out that a number of years ago covers used to feature cut-off heads. And, then then there was a spate of covers with only landscapes on them. All for the sake of mystery and imagination.
Finally, yesterday, the New York Times Magazine picked up on this phenomenon in the piece “Show Some Spine” by Chloe Schama.
My question is: where is the originality that I remember in book jackets and covers when I began in this business so many years ago? Isn’t using the same device on all of these covers making them more difficult to tell apart and therefore sell? Finally, what is the next trend going to be? – it is time to do something different, after all.