There’s one thing you have to know about me: I judge a book by its cover. In fact, I’m very much swayed by attractive covers, pretty colors, and shiny things. What can I say? I’m a slave to my senses. While I’m fully aware that attractive packaging cannot compensate for a bad story, it certainly does make it more bearable. If I was reading a book that was on the border between a thumbs up or thumbs down, a spectacular cover can make all the difference. I think a good cover can increase or decrease my enjoyment of the book as a whole.
I am a firm believer that book designs are getting better and better; this is partially due to a new generation of graphic artists and Photoshop whiz kids employed in the cover art industry nowadays. Whenever I walk into a bookstore, I’m always struck by how pretty everything is and how tempting it is to buy out every new release or re-issue novel in the store. If I flashback to my middle school days in the ’90’s, I cringe at how many books I’ve encountered with god awful, gag me covers. I use to dread it when they draw—or superimpose a lame photo—of the main character on the cover, especially when it is quite obvious the designer has never read the book! I don’t want to see the characters! It distorts my own imagination!
That’s why I like the new trend in headless models, three quarter profiles, half-turned backs, and random shots of human anatomy (non-gratuitous shots, of course). I realize there’s some sort of controversy surrounding the popularity of these faceless/headless girl covers; they send an anti-feminist message, these girls are symbolically stripped of their individuality, robbed of their voices, with only their super fit torsos to recommend them.
I beg to differ. The headless girl design breeds mystery; it reveals just enough of the heroine’s appearance, but doesn’t reveal too much so that readers can still imagine themselves as the heroine.
In addition to the headless girl covers, I also love profiles. When I was browsing the YA section at Border’s a few weeks ago, this A Northern Light cover drew the most attention among tween browsers. I counted at least five girls who picked this book up. My friend, who is a self-professed reader hater (and I quote, she “HATES this reading crap”), plucked A Northern Light from the shelf and said this book looks interesting. She has since purchased it on the strength of the cover alone. Behold the power of cover art! (By the way, I accompanied her there because I talked her into buying Twilight! As I type this now, she has since read her way through the entire Twilight trilogy and is bombarding me with vampire questions like I’m the vampire expert extraordinaire. I am no vampire expert, but I do feel like LeVar-freaking-Burton! I’m spreading my reading love to the world, changing lives one book at a time. But don’t take my word for it!).
When I read A Northern Light in March, I got the library copy which just so happens to be the 1st-not-so-attractive-edition. As a result, I imagined Mattie as the frumpy wallflower on that cover. Oh, how I wish how I could have encountered this cover first. I could have imagined Mattie as this gorgeous model who looks like, correct me if I’m mistaken, Snow White?
Full Face Forward
I mentioned earlier that I’m not a fan of full face forward covers. This Witch Child cover, however, is an exception. This model’s face is a combination of pretty, spooky, and mysterious. And yes, this is exactly how I imagined Mary, the story’s heroine. It was definitely the cover that influenced my imagination.
Below I’ve provided a random sampling of cover models and their coveted anatomy parts. I’m sure there are other examples floating around book world, but these are my favorites. Since my head is reeling from a slothful Sunday morning spent in front of the computer, I’m off to blow a chunk of cash on gas (gas in Southern California is now $4.19/gal! Makes you wanna drive yourself off a cliff, eh?) and do other dorktastic activities such as pick up my library holdings and read them. Until next time!