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Book Jacket


An interesting article on New York Times Sunday Book Review really hit the spot for me about book covers. Chloë Schama raises the awareness that a plague of women’s backs is upon us in the book cover world. Women reveal only one side of themselves on an assortment of recent book covers. I used to think this cover cliché was only confined to chick-lit and pulp fiction. The subject matter also came up in conversations with book reps at BEA. A proposed cover for fiction, even literary fiction, most often features a faceless woman or a woman with her back facing the reader. Why is the faceless woman so popular, so ubiquitous? Sex appeal? Maybe. Woman’s body could be an appeal and that the exposure of a woman’s back might be the limit of censor. But, how would this benefit the industry that overwhelmingly attracts female consumers and employees? While there is nothing wrong to have book-cover suggestive of bodies and physical forces, a book cover is always the single most efficient and tell-tale way to signal whether a book has substance or not.


5 Responses

  1. I associate the female back motif on book covers with a ruse to raise the interest of the reader. “Here’s a lovely back, you guys, don’t you want to know what the face looks like?”

  2. There for awhile it was all about headless bosoms…

  3. If it attracts a casual purchaser, he read the blurb and might try it. That’s three steps of probabilities – attracting, reading, and buying. However a dull cover might not even pass through the first stage.

    That said, a dedicated reader would not succumb to this cover ‘thing’ easily. I hardly consider bookcovers. However, the Penguin version of Anthony Briggs’ translation of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace has the picture of a woman with only the bottom left quadrant of her face (including part of her deep-red lips) showing.

  4. Isn’t that interesting. Now I’m no doubt going to pay more attention next time I’m in the book shop to see what the Australian Lit covers are featuring. Interesting post.

  5. This has been a trend for a few years now, at least tha’s when I became to notice it in everone’s Mailbox Monday posts. I would say over half the books would feature a woman from the back.

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