By Lori Perkins
Let me make this perfectly clear – as a reader, I absolutely HATE this recent trend in book covers that is all words over a darker background.
I have been in publishing for at least three decades (if you count my decades as a journalist) and a reader since I was in kindergarten, and this new shift to book covers that tell me absolutely nothing about what’s inside infuriates me. I get that more than 50% of the book-buying public have all migrated to purchasing books over the internet, and publishers need bold type to show the book title on a thumbnail image, but when I actually BUY the book, all I get is a boring string of words that blends with all the other titles over some sort of multi-colored background. It makes me pine for the old Harlequin romance covers, because at least I knew what was inside those books.
That also leads me to the new trend in contemporary romance to use simple illustrations on the cover instead of posed figures (usually in some sort of hot embrace). These make me feel like I am too young to drink or drive (and I am rapidly approaching retirement age). For the record, I hate them too.
I miss the days of die-cut covers, where you could pull back the harder cardboard and see a totally different cover underneath. Or the folded cover, where the illustrated story went on for a second page (or a map!). Or the horror hologram covers of the 80s! Book covers (like album covers) used to be an amazing art form unto themselves and now they are just commercial billboards on the Amazon highway.
I’ve attached a recent article on the 25 most iconic book covers of the past, https://lithub.com/the-25-most-iconic-book-covers-in-history/. You’ll see that even though there is a lot of type, it is the creative use of both type and imagery that makes the covers memorable. Today’s covers are lazy and uninspired in comparison. As books are banned and vilified in today’s world, we owe it to ourselves and the next generation of readers to do better!