Today I’m here to talk to you about book covers! I would love to be professionally involved in designing book covers (even if I’m not a great illustrator or can even afford Adobe Indesign). I love seeing all the tiny details in a cover, the effort it took to create such a thing and and looking back at the cover after reading the book and finding all the little references the story inside.
*I have not read most of these books and I’m here to only talk about their covers/cover trends and not their subject/content. To my knowledge I am not featuring any extremely problematic author/book but please let me know if you think otherwise.
Just how important is a cover?
We’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” and I agree, we cannot judge a book in its entirety solely based on the cover. But we can judge how beneficial or harmful a book cover can be for the story. Yes, a cover can be harmful when it fails the ultimate goal of all book covers: attract the reader’s interest!
If a cover isn’t attractive I won’t pick up the book at a bookstore and turn it over to read the synopsis, or randomly click on it if Goodreads recommends it to me, or if I find it in a friend’s book tag (a great place to find new books). Book titles can also be great for getting people interested in a book and they are obviously a big part of the cover but that’s a conversation for another day. Today’s about the design.
Illustrated covers in NA & Adult Romance
Illustrated covers have been around for a while and it’s a type of design that has been wonderful for rebranding romances as fun, easy reads by giving it a more appealing look with these bright colors and cute illustrated people. I think this trend has been particularly great for the New Adult and Adult Romances. Instead of being yet another book with innuendo for a title and a shirtless man on the cover, these romances will appeal to a much larger audience simply by being visually more attractive while still having a lot of the qualities people enjoy in those stories.
I never used to read romances. I thought they were boring, though I really enjoyed romance as a subplot in fantasy novels. I only started slowly warming up to the genre when I read The Kiss Quotient, though it wasn’t until this year probably that I’ve begun actively trying to read more books from this genre.
My favorite cover here is definitely Beach Read. I love the two people on the beach towels, although this book has been said to be more emotionally heavy than a lot of contemporaries, it certainly looks like a fun beach read. In The Friend Zone, it’s also interesting to see the female figure sitting on the word ‘THE’ as usually there’s not much interaction between these two elements in illustrated covers; plus, I love the little arrows shooting down to the male figure.
- Beach Read by Emily Henry
- Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
- The Heart Principle by Helen Huang
- The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
RELATED: Contemporay Romances I Loved (mini+reviews) and more illustrate covers I love.
These covers all show an interesting manipulation of textures making these pretty unique and attractive covers.
There There is probably my favorite cover of these four because of the overall final look, but I’m not entirely sure I could say why or that it even fits with texture & collage manipulation exactly – which is not a problem with the others. The Memory Police is a bit more subtle perhaps compared to some of the others but I think the overall effect is striking. It looks someone collaged some simple drawings on top of a photo and then put on top what almost looks like a sticker (the title/author gold circle).
The Majesties appeals to the inner artist in me with those strokes of an art knife(?) and the realistic monarch butterfly combines surprisingly well with the final look – and obviously the title. The only thing I dislike about this cover is the typography, though I understand the designers didn’t want to obfuscate the main element of the cover. And Frankly in Love has such a great depth and texture effect on the typography – which leads me to my next trend…
- There There by Tommy Orange
- The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
- Frankly in Love by David Yoon
- The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao
Can you tell why I couldn’t choose only four covers? Bold typography is a more generalized way of putting it but it’s exactly what I mean. The typography in these covers does a wonderful job of drawing attention to the book. On the other hand, the rest of the cover is usually less elaborate, in a single, usually bright color with some small accents like the arrows in THIF or the ‘paint/wall cracks’ in AWINM. Also, you may have noticed that a lot of nonfiction book covers these days have a lot of bold typography in their covers.
I love The Herd‘s cover. It’s intriguing because the girl’s face and identity is removed which seems to be be right on point with the theme of the book. Magic For Liars plays around with the positioning of the words in pretty unique way, and of course Frankly in Love because of the aforementioned texture and depth effect caused by the color gradient.
- The Stonewall Reader by New York Public Library, Edmund White
- The Herd by Andrea Bartz
- A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
- The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
- Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey
- Vagabonds by Hao Jinfang
- The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Deer antlers in Thrillers & Horror
Thriller and horror covers are usually so boring to me, but there’s just something about these covers with deer heads or simply antlers that really intrigues and appeals to me – possibly also because I personally* love deer. Plus, it gives these novels an eerie and even macabre feeling, doesn’t it?
(*I saw plenty of deer up close when I visited Richmond Park in London a few years ago and just fell in love basically. Red deer stags, the ones on these covers if I’m not mistaken, are particularly impressive because of their massive body and antler size, though they’re all beautiful.)
In the case of The Only Good Indians, The Hunting Party, and Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of the Dead I can see see why they chose this animal for the cover. But I confess I can’t really tell with Dark Secrets. Is it because it’s about a serial killer and all serial killers are predators who hunt their victim? I’m not sure but the cover is the main reason why I bought it…
Also, while researching for this post and after reading Nicole @ Nicole’s Book Thought’s review of The Only Good Indians really made me want to read this book – which I will hopefully do next month – and The Hunting Party as well!
- The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
- The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
- Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (*Portuguese Edition)
- Dark Secrets by Michael Hjorth, Hans Rosenfeldt (*Portuguese Edition)
Honorable Mentions: I also love the covers of science/nature related nonfiction books because they have some beautiful photography of landscapes or animals, though I’m not sure that can be considered a trend since it’s the most obvious cover design there could be for the subject.