Thursday, June 28, 2012

Such a Pretty Face

From when we are very young, we are warned against judging a book by its cover. But, I’m not going to lie, I’ve done it.

The cover’s important. It’s the first introduction the reader has to the world and tone of the book. And when people have such large selections of books to choose from, the cover is the best way to make a lasting first impression.

Look at Vicki Pettersson’s The Taken, for instance. I was in the bookstore the other day with no specific story in mind. Just meandering about. And this cover grabbed me. Once I read the back flap, I knew this was a story that had awesome written all over it and I’m very excited for reading time this weekend. But I wouldn’t have picked it up in the first place if it hadn’t been for the cover.

With the need to catch the bookstore wanderer’s attention in mind, certain works of classic literature have gotten facelifts in recent years. In an effort to appeal to the young adult market, a few have been given the Twilight treatment. Romeo & Juliet is dubbed “The Original Forbidden Love….” This cover of Wuthering Heights, not only proclaims that “Love Never Dies,” but also plainly states, “Bella & Edward’s Favorite Book.”

Dressing up old favorites in some new garb makes sense from a marketing standpoint, and while I enjoy the classic covers, I support pretty much anything that gets people to read more. And if new covers accomplish that goal, awesome. Plus, some of them are pretty cool looking.

There’s a certain aesthetic appeal to the simplicity of the images on the black background trend, but I have always preferred covers that have a bit more to do with the characters. A partiality that has also led to my biggest book packaging peeve. It drives me absolutely bizonkers when the physical description of the characters in the book do not match the image of the characters on the cover. If it is mentioned that a character has black hair, but on the cover they have light brown. If two characters have a significant height discrepancy in the story, but are of comparable heights on the cover. Annoys the bejeepers out of me.

Now it’s pretty much impossible for the person/people on the front cover to look exactly as I imagine the characters and that’s fine. Just looking for the specifically mentioned characteristics to be the same. Certain covers avoid this problem all together by favoring silhouettes. My sister picked up this copy of Pride & Prejudice while waiting in an airport last year. I love it. Main characters are present and accounted for, as are some of the secondary. All the detailing fits in with the story and the lack of clear features means I’m never going to be flipping to the front and thinking, Well, that doesn’t match. Added to all this is the fact even without seeing facial expression, these characters have personality.

For another beautiful cover utilizing silhouette, check out Mindee Arnett’s upcoming The Nightmare Affair. Tor also offers a really cool look at the process of choosing this particular cover.

So, what about all of you? What books have you judged by their covers and how has that worked out for you?

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