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Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

I fell in love with the characters even more than I already was.

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Wednesday, April 18

Book Covers and Feminism

You’ve heard it a hundred times, probably more like a gazillion times, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” And yet if you ask MOST book bloggers covers are one of the reasons they chose to read to a book. And yes book bloggers are a bit obsessed with book bloggers, but do we want a cover model on the front that has a girl that is an unrealistic portrait of a woman?

I would say an unequivocal “NO!” But this article by Huffington Post says that we do. Now, I love Huffington Post. I mean it’s a liberal publishing house that makes me intensely happy on a daily basis. Yes, I watch MSNBC probably about 3 hours a day in the background as I work on research, papers, or even now as I type this I’m watching my favorite MSNBC show, The Rachel Maddow show. Huffington Post is a common expert on liberal politics. So yes, they get a huge hug from me. Love them. That being said how in the world did this woman that seemed to have an agenda being a self-pubbed author with this horrible cover get to represent us book bloggers in the world of book covers?

If you know me you know that design is important to me. I would not accept this as a “professional” cover. I would not accept a review request with this cover. If you do not care enough about your book to give it a cover that good in composition than I’m not going to believe you took the time within. In the self-publishing world authors have complete control over what their covers look like. I understand that it costs to get a cover done professionally. I get money is tight! I do, but this type of cover is unacceptable. By the way this cover is not horrible because of the female being not the idea beauty in fact I think she’s quite beautiful (if not a bit skinny). It’s HORRIBLE composition. It’s neon, it’s display font, it’s oddly placed butterflies. It’s not the female that is the issue. Oh, and this is revised acceptable cover. I wonder what it looked like beforehand.

One of the sad things about book covers currently is stock art, from Deviantart and the like, have become a norm even for the big six to base their covers off of. With this combined with once a cover is popular it’s copied repeatedly by the art departments we get covers that have females in dresses on a large percentage of covers.

I mean a year ago how common was the red dress?

These are just a few of these red covers. And the sad thing? Very rarely was a dress ever worn in the books that have flowing dresses on the cover. And book bloggers do complain about this. We do.

We complain about the covers that have no substance and are simply eye candy and are trying to sell this glamorous girl instead of the contents. But there is another way to go here. There is a way to go that are designed with beautiful composition, there are covers that have incredible beautiful relevant covers, there are covers that don’t have the super beautiful woman on the cover but pretty women that are normal, natural, not unattainably beautiful. And these covers if they are done correctly are advocated, loved, encouraged, by us book bloggers.

Yes, horrible covers abound, but it has NOTHING to do with women that are basically Barbie's on the covers. It has to do with A) copycatting, B) knowing nothing about composition, C) trying to get the mass teen market to read it.

Book bloggers expect more from books, book covers, and authors, because we read around 100 books per year and get book review requests from many more.

Just my opinion on the matter. What’s yours?


I'm a wife, student, and a dog-lover who reads when I should be folding laundry (bane of my existance), I write (rarely as academic papers consume my life), and love getting wrapped up in fiction.


  1. I find bad covers appauling especially the amount of copycats in publishing industry while there are so many interesting and talented cover artists. Self-publishing has no excuse either. They can afford to spend $50 on a cover which in the end will sell their book much more. It just irritates me and makes me sad.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. I think one the main pluses of traditional publishing in today's market is the art department, but the thing is there are such talented freelancers you don't even need an art department. There is really no excuse and then to blame them on book bloggers wanting only covers with impossibly beautiful females on the front makes me irate!

  3. I am a cover whore and not afraid to admit it.  Especially for books that I have had zero knowledge of beforehand.  I hate the trend of the last few years of "copycat" covers.  I am also not a fan of covers that have nothing to do with the story themselves.  Oh and don't get me started on hair colors (which just take some paintshop).  At the very least, the cover needs to be visually appealing to the target audience.  I truly believe that a lot of books have sold on their covers alone (mostly because when I read reviews of the books people didn't like it but wanted the book on their shelves). 

    I won't "not read" a book if it has a bad cover but it will take some major word of mouth to get me to pick it up!

  4. I had seen The Earthquake Machine on a couple of blogs and thought that the cover looked a little funny.  But I didn't even SEE the BUTTERFLIES until you mentioned them.  How sloppy and silly.  I couldn't take this book seriously.

    The covers I love are beautiful in relation to the story, not just a pretty girl with a pretty dress.  Like Partials.  The coloring is beautiful, and it COMPLETELY goes with the story. 

  5. i am a total cover whore. i am a very visual person and if your cover doesn't look professional with good design, then i am much less likely to pick it up unless someone recommends it. i actually prefer covers that have illustrations vs pictures of girls. and the girl in the dress trend is so played. i love a pretty dress but it's silly when the person on the cover has nothing to do with the story. personally i don't think i would have picked up the earthquake machine. the colors and font make it look cheesy to me personally.