Posted by: Corri van de Stege | September 3, 2010

And now for something different

No Book cover

Image via Wikipedia

After having let off steam yesterday, I feel I have to quickly follow this up with a more upbeat post.  Not too sure though whether this article in today’s Guardian does it though.  ‘I write a nasty book and they want a girly cover on it’, writes Lionel Shriver.  It’s a continuation of the debate on the fact that female authors will never get the kind of admiration and frenzy media that Franzen has got with his new book ‘Freedom’.  Heavy hitters (especially in America) are male, exclusively so. Moreover, when female authors do write books that might just be on the same scale, they are immediately put down by publishers who want to put a girly (read: attractive to female readers) cover on it. 

That made me think about my own approach to book covers and in fact I tend to be put off by ‘girly’ covers, such as women in skirts looking wistfully into the distance or in some other way soft and with ‘shy’ titles (as Shriver calls them).  So there are probably lots of us females who are not in fact attracted by the kind of cover that publishers seem to impose in order to make books more attractive to female readers, who consitute some 80% of readership of  fiction. 

Perhaps with the introduction of the e-reader all that is going to matter less: I don’t even know what covers the books have that are on my reader – I buy / download them because I have read about them in the newspaper, or they have been recommended by fellow bloggers.  A lot of the time it is also a matter of simply getting the latest book by a favourite author and I’m glad to say that these include both female and male authors.  Nevertheless, the last two books I reviewed have been by males, one I absolutely loved and another I absolutely hated.  And until I downloaded the picture from the Amazone website for my blog,  I had no idea what cover these books have as one was a pre-published proof and the other was a download.



  1. I’m definitely put off by a book cover that looks like “chick lit” and I probably miss out on some really good reads as a result of that prejudice.

  2. I know it sounds shallow, but I don’t buy a book if I don’t like the cover (I try avoid movie tie-in editions as much as possible). 🙂

  3. hmmmm….really. The power of covers. Will take another looks when I shop/browse. Typically, I am busy registering title-and-author and don’t care a wit (or notice, I should say) what the cover looks like. POssible? oh, yeah.
    Good point about the e-reader, though. I have one and again, am only aware of title and author.

    I dare say that here in the States, aesthetics/art has far too much to do with “sell” and reaction. I find this to be true at work, in our company’s publishing dept. Everyone is worried about look and presentation more than what the actual text says. geez.

  4. I read the article in the Guardian too and felt sorry that someone of the quality of Shriver gets put down like this. I take a great interest in covers and so will be in a spot when I get my Kindle 2 at Christmas!

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