Author: Oliver Phommavanh
Everytime I go to the Young Adult (YA) section of a bookstore, I swear I’m walking into the set of Australia’s Next Top Model. All I see are book covers with dark covers and moody girls. Perhaps it’s the vampire and angel books that are setting the cover trends:
Children and YA covers blog, ‘Jacket Whys’ is also baffled by this recent ‘pretty face cover’ trend and why it works so well. She wonders if this is really a reflection of the readers out there. Magazines aren’t the only ones who use beautiful girls to attract attention. A printmag article also questions this notion that a YA novel has to pose, alluringly and convincingly, for a teenager to pick it up.
Australian covers haven’t gone ‘face crazy’ with their books, though when they get published overseas, they go through a ‘beauty’ makeover. Here’s the Australian cover for the short-listed CBCA older readers book, Liar by Justine Larbalestier.
Here are the two US covers, the ‘original’ is on the left.
I say ‘original’ because there was an issue about that cover and its link to the character in the book. You see, Liar is about a complusive liar, Micah who is African-American. Justine mentions on her blog that no Australian reader has questioned Micah’s race. Not only does the original US cover undermines Micah as a character, Justine’s whole story loses credibility. Which leads me to think if the US publisher actually read the book in the first place, perhaps they did after the controversy of the original cover.
Justine says she had no say on the cover design. In fact most authors don’t have any influence at all, they just cross their fingers and hope the marketing gurus get it right.
One of my favourite books, The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks is a cheeky satire on the vampire world, and I loved the creepy and cartoony cover. Then I stumbled upon this new cover…*sigh* at least she sort of looks cool in her sunglasses.
When I see a face on the cover of a book, it’s hard for me to shake that image out of my mind when I read the book. Do you feel the same? Do you feel cheated when there is a model posing as the main character, because you’re robbed of the experience of picturing them yourself? What’s your verdict on the ‘pretty face’ cover trend?