aka YA Literature

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Book Covers

In thinking about the repackaging of Judy Blume's books (and others), it has me thinking about how ruthless I've become about book covers. I know the saying is "never judge a book by its cover," but people obviously do. I have lots of books that I'm sure are great that no one ever checks out because the cover doesn't attract them. I've already mentioned several times how I have to practically beg people to read Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks because of the cover (hopefully the paperback will have a better cover).* Therefore, unless it's an already-popular author or series, I pretty much always consider the cover before I decide to buy something now. As I go through my review magazines and circle the books I want to order, on many of them I write "cover." On those, I look at the cover before I decide if I want to add it to my Follett list. There have been some books here recently that I wish I had the paperback version of instead of the hardback just because of the cover (examples: Dairy Queen and How to Ditch Your Fairy). I agree with pretty much everything that Jennifer at YAbooknerd said in this post about the topic. The only thing I disagree with is the preference for the original DQ cover. Someone else's blog (I forgot who!) was also saying recently that they liked the original Audrey, Wait cover better than the paperback because the paperback is just like all the other girly YA books. The girly covers are pretty popular with my students. They are attracted to those because they know those "types" of books are the ones they enjoy. I haven't seen anyone checkout out Dairy Queen all year, but I know a lot of my Sarah Dessen fans would enjoy it. They have no interest in it, though, because the cover doesn't give you any hint that it might appeal to that kind of reader.

* [Side note: I'm sure no one else reading this ever watches "Platinum Weddings" on WE, but the art from Frankie is the same as that on "Platinum Weddings."]


Heather Doss said...

I'm totally with you as I do the same thing only staring titles whose covers appeal to me when making a first pass through catalogs. No matter how good a story may be, if teens aren't attracted to the cover it just won't sell.

Sometimes I've had luck with suggesting a cover be changed & sometimes publishers take an awesome galley cover & change it for the final edition to an everyday photo-shopped picture (which I HATE! GRRRR)

Holly said...

Cover art really is so improtant when it comes to YA novels. That, and the title. I love the cover of How to Ditch Your Fairy and I think the title is really cute, too, but I just couldn't get into the book itself. Which is a shame because I love Justine Larbalestier. Maybe it is because I tried to read the one with the other cover? ;)

Sheryl said...

I'm going to buy a copy of the paperback edition of Dairy Queen and see if it gets checked out to test my theory. I'll let you know what happens.

Yesterday I had two of my students putting a poster of Shusterman's Unwind up for me, and they were both like, "Do we have this book? It looks so good. I want to read it." And that was only from the cover and having no idea what the book was about at all. Also these are boys who never read unless they have to for school.

Another book cover I've been thinking about is Elizabeth Scott's Something Maybe. It has a somewhat girly cover that tends to get interest, but it's not fantastic. I was thinking of buying multiple copies because I've turned quite a few students on to her books, but I think I'll just buy one for now and see how it circulates.