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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Judging a Book by its Cover

Fairly recently, I started following the Historical Novel Society Facebook Group (off topic: if you are a Historical Fiction lover, you really should join this group. It's very active and interesting!). Yesterday, a lot of people were a buzz about an experiment that author, Maureen Johnson did on Twitter. She asked her followers to imagine that popular books were written by authors of the opposite sex. The results that people came up with were fascinating and seriously maddening (here's some of what people came up with).

Let me just say, women writers kind of get the shaft when it comes to what their book covers look like and it is absolutely infuriating!

Seriously, guys!
One thing that I noticed when I was looking at the cover flips is that the covers of books originally written by females that were turned into books by male authors are not all that masculine at all. Many of them  used geometric shapes or more abstract pictures that are pretty much gender neutral. On the other hand, apparently a lot of people have the opinion that if you are a woman writer, your books will only appeal to women and all of your covers must be ridiculously pink, purple, flowery, have ridiculous font, have dresses on them, or some other saccharine combination. It is sad; really sad. Why does there have to be such a difference???

Here is my philosophy when it comes to reading. Readers should read good books. The author's gender shouldn't really factor into it. Read what you like and what interests you!

I know that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover but if you're browsing in a bookstore, I think many of us have a tendency to pick up books that have covers that interest us. We are visual creatures of course. I think that the more gender neutral covers probably get more people to pick up the book than one that is very pink and very flowery.

I understand that an attractive cover is an incredible marketing tool but it is so frustrating when books by female authors seem to be limited by their covers. I will be the first to tell you that I have judged books by their covers before. Before getting a Kindle, you would have been hard pressed to see me reading a book with a scantily clad female and a muscle-bound man in public (ahem, romance books). Once I got a Kindle, I had no shame because no one could see what I was reading and judge me. Is it sad that I cared about what strangers thought about what I was reading? Yeah but tis the truth. I bet you that there are a lot of males that feel the same way about books with any sort of foofy covers. They are not even going to give a fair consideration to those books.

Tis the hardcore truth, you guys.

Publishers and marketers, please give female authors a fighting chance. When you give these books such ridiculous covers, I would venture to guess that you are alienating at least 50% of the good people of this earth that read. Do better by ALL of your authors!

What do you all think about this?

Other important stuff:
Maureen Johnson's blog on why she did the cover flip experiment. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad she did it and I hope that a lot of her followers understood why she was doing it. It's the same thing Jennifer Weiner's been advocating for years. Why should a male author get a neutral, geometric shaped, abstract font cover? I mean, there are obviously extremes and there are plenty that are in the middle but there are many female authors who would appeal to males but the cover would turn them off. I don't know if anything's going to change but it's good to have the discussion about it.


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