Wednesday, September 28, 2011

JUDGING BY THE COVER

It’s Under Cover Wednesday so I figured what better topic to discuss than, yup, you guessed it…BOOK COVERS!

I discussed YA cover love with three of our savvy spies: Lynsay, Laura and Lennon. (L Triple Threat!)

I was cruel and made them choose ONE cover throughout all of time as their favorite (not story, just the cover). I wasn’t surprised when they chose totally different books. (Let’s face it; there are gazillions to choose from.) What fascinated me is that Lynsay and Laura are almost polar opposites with their preferences, and Lennon’s favorite cover featured the thing she said annoys her. See for yourself.

When I asked Laura about her preferences she had this to say:
“I hate cluttered covers where images are so varying and many that it is distracting from the main focal point (The Mortal Instruments). In saying that, covers that are too simple aren’t very gripping. While they may convey their point well, they aren’t that great to look at.”
She gave an example of Forbidden.

On the flip side, Lynsay explained her love of simplicity:
“I might consider myself a minimalist in this regard. I really like the cover of Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. It's very simple and tells you almost nothing about the book…The little heart cookie makes you smile, but it doesn't really make you form an opinion or idea because you almost can't.”

I couldn’t help but notice how similar yet very different those two covers are.

Lennon’s fav pick was Hush Hush, but I’m wondering if she’s a Gemini (good and bad twin in one) like me because of her love/hate relationship with covers. Check it:
“It had the aura of darkness and the fallen angel thing helped a bit too. My only pet peeve with covers is overly preppy teenaged boys or girls who are half-naked. It's really annoying and offensive, like someone's only going to read it based on the hot guy without a shirt. Not all teenaged girls are that hormonal.”


On second thought, Patch is far from overly preppy so maybe that’s why the half-naked thing works in this case.

Laura’s favorite cover selection was Incarceron:
“The colors are kind of lifeless and unexciting, but the font – oh, the font! It melts my heart. The layout is just so gorgeous and well-organized too, with the mixture of gears and things in the background to signify the steampunk presence. And I love how the key remains the centerpiece despite everything else going on around it. It’s just so well-balanced and symbolic.”


Speaking of well-balanced. I also asked the spies if they paid attention to the back cover at all. Lynsay was quick to mention Two Way Street.
“On the front of this book it has the main character girl looking into the truck of a car, and if you flip to the back, it has the main character boy looking under the hood; the car goes across the spine and everything. I always thought that was cool.”

Sorry about the odd secondary cover image and the white box on the photo, but it was the only one I could find of the front and back. However, if those two little blocks annoyed you, then you'll probably agree with another pet peeve Lynsay mentioned:
"I HATE going into a book store, and there are giant stickers over the cover art, title, author, summary on back, etc. It drives me nuts! If I'm going to explore this book, I need to see what's on the cover, and what it's called, and who wrote it. I will literally take the time to peel the sticker and move it if I want to see something bad enough."

Laura pays attention to the back of books too.
“One of my favorite books of all time, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, has the most immaculately designed back cover. I think it shows great dedication and creativity when the beauty of the front cover is also present in the back. It fits so well too, when the theme is carried out. So, yes, I pay an enormous amount of attention to the back cover, maybe even as much as I would to the front.”

So does Lennon.
“I do pay attention to the back cover artwork but more so the writing on the back.”

I also polled some teens in the Young Adult Book Club group on Goodreads. Some other top cover picks:

EverlastingThe EverafterNevermoreImaginary GirlsRevolutionUnearthlyFalling UnderMarked

Several teens weighed in on pet peeves or soft spots.
  • Most weren’t a fan of covers with just a face, or half a face or head that fades away, or just a hand, or an eye.
  • A few mentioned their love for flowers.
  • Some liked mostly black backgrounds while two teens thought it was cliché and overdone.
When I asked, How important is the cover of a book when you're considering reading it? Everyone agreed that it plays somewhat of a factor.

“It's inevitable that people will look at covers to discern what lies within, it has to be what catches your eye, and really makes you think without giving it away.” ~Lynsay

“The cover is the first thing you see, the thing that draws you in, the first thing you know about a book. It’s just like meeting a person for the first time.” ~Laura

The cover is what catches my attention. Slightly, I judge more on the title and summary then the cover, but I wouldn't want to read a book with a butterfly on the cover smiling and singing or whatever, unless it was a zombie butterfly. That'd be awesome.” ~Lennon

Zombie butterflies would be awesome. *Passes suggestion to zombie lover, Fem Fatale.*

So basically, it’s the same old story: Cover love and loathing is as subjective as the stories the covers are representing. What one readers likes, another dislikes. Sounds familiar, eh?

All of this fun cover conversation did prove that the popular saying of “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is good advice but no one follows it. We DO judge books by their cover. I could write a snazzy closing statement but Laura already summed it up brilliantly.
“I mean, who doesn’t judge a book by its cover? Human beings are judgmental creatures. We can deny it all we want, but it’s true. If we didn’t care so much about covers, why do we go to such lengths to pretty them? Let’s face it; they are a quintessential marketing tool. Well, that and they’re nice to look at…most of the time.”

What about all you ninja readers? What’s your favorite YA cover?
I’d ask if you judge books by their cover but we already know you do. Yes, even YOU. It's, okay. Don’t be ashamed. We won't judge you. But we will judge your book covers. ;)


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