Margo vs. Quentin

I’m just back from the first YALSA YA Lit Symposium (I gather from their various posts that the Greens were in TN at the same time but we didn’t get to see them at the Symposium!) with lots of new books to read and information to digest. But I want to get this post in before I get too absorbed.
I first posted about John Green’s new book Paper Towns back in April when John posted the two covers to his blog. I am a huge Nerdfighter fan – subscribed to Brotherhood 2.0 near the beginning of that absolutely amazing endeavor – love John’s books, including Paper Towns which I am halfway through (started today and trying to finish before I see John & Hank in person this evening in Westport, CT)… But I have to  make this comment on the covers of Paper Towns
We drove to Nashville from Connecticut – three of us. Ann Marie was reading Paper Towns in the backseat. Every once in a while she would laugh and read us a line or two. The more she read, the more I could see that there was a lot of humor that teenage boys would really appreciate. It’s so hard to find “boy books.” Publishers tend to pitch to the market, which they perceive to be largely female (probably true).

pt1 pt2

BUT! What boy is going to pick up this book based on the cover? Don’t get me wrong – I don’t dislike the cover (though my vision of Margo does not gel with the photo here, and I’m glad I got the blue one when I ordered from Amazon). But we all know the line. Girls will read books with boys on the cover – but boys will steer clear of books with covergirls. True for teenage boys? I think so.
What guy is going to be caught dead with the yellow Margo? (Okay, okay – maybe if he’s a nerdfighter).
So… couldn’t we have just hinted at the fact that the main voice in this book is a high school GUY?  Background picture? What if the guys were up front and Margo was a presence in the background?
I’m finding it more and more difficult to find fiction of any ilk that wants to admit on its jacket that it’s a book boys might enjoy. Anyone have good examples to the contrary?


12 Responses to “Margo vs. Quentin”

  1. How about S.A. Harazin’s BLOOD BROTHERS? Looks like a “boy book” to me (and it is).

  2. I totally agree. I actually saw John here in GA a few weeks ago and didn’t buy a 1st edition because they only had the yellow cover. I like the 2 covers but you’re right, maybe a “boy” and “girl” cover would have been better. I’d buy it–even in HS–because I would have been a nerdfighter back then as well (and yea! nerdfighter ning!) but non-nerdfighters would need much more incentive than those covers. Most of the crowd for John was female, but certainly not exclusively. But, yeah, the difference between the first two more ambiguous covers and this new book are striking.

  3. I totally agree! A Boy/Girl cover would have certainly upped the interest level for guys — and girls, too, because I know sometimes even in high school I wasn’t down with reading any more girly stories. But, authors just have no control over that kind of thing — although I expect authors of the stature of John Green might have some say… but probably not.

  4. I’ve wondered the same thing. Moreover, I noticed that the paperback reissues of Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines are also very “girly” on the covers– which I think is especially a shame for Alaska since the original cover was not only gender-neutral but so very evocative. What’s up with that?

  5. You’re another Connecticut blogger? I had no idea!

    It’ll be interesting to see if anyone from Dutton is willing to compare sales of the new covers of Green’s books to the originals – since they took advantage of Paper Towns to reissue Katherines and Alaska with girls on those covers, too.

  6. Y’know, that honestly never occurred to me, but now that you mention it, I agree.

  7. Wow, I hadn’t seen the new cover of Looking for Alaska until now. Not a good choice, that cover. It looks like a Sarah Dessen book–not that there’s anything wrong with Sarah Dessen books, but it’s basically throwing John Green to the girls and giving up on the boys. I agree with Lisa, above, that the original cover was far superior (just a good cover in general, appealing to teen readers by not pandering to them).

  8. Hi all – Just a note that the “new” edition of LOOKING FOR ALASKA does not replace the original (candle,black) jacket image–it’s an additional editon (different trim, etc.). The original trade paperback is still very much available.

  9. I am a HS teacher, and I can guarantee you no teenage boy is going to carry that book around.

  10. I have had tons of boys read Looking for Alaska, but they all had the old cover.

  11. i have nothing to offer–except that i’m sad
    boys won’t read YA with girls on the cover.
    i am so in love and gratfeful for mine–but if
    only i could get a “boy cover” with monsters
    on them as well. =)

    a mom did say that her son tore the covers off
    of all the YA books, and read them that way!
    i doubt they are all that practical, tho.

    from the discussion, i’ve added this book to
    my wishlist. am looking forward to reading it!

  12. waitaminnnit! Why didn’t I know about this symposium!?! I live in TN, I would have been there.

    I just found your blog today. I really like that you talk about book covers.
    Let’s face it, I tend to judge a book by it’s cover at times.

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