Ingenuity – NOT!

So along the line of getting face covers off of YA novels…
I was sitting in my office last week and I looked up at our new YA novel display (new to us, not new in the sense of just-released) and this is what I saw:

I’m trying to imagine myself as a teen (okay, so that was a really long time ago) – a teen in the culture of today (not the ’70s…). How excited could I get about this batch? Some half-faces, some full-on faces, some fancy clothes. And gosh… I just don’t get it. Why does this work? What happened to standing out from a crowd?
It has always baffled me why it works (it must!) to attract young girls with beautiful girls in beautiful clothes. Weren’t we just talking about wanting to see ourselves, our culture, reflected in our literature? Even if you’re white, does this reflect you?

psssssssssst….. by the way, I love the cover of Hazel despite everything I’ve said, but I’ll never tell >;-)

11 Responses to “Ingenuity – NOT!”

  1. Janet Carey’s STEALING DEATH does, in fact, contain a horse. And it’s actually quite a nice horse. So, that should count as not being just big faces, or half faces, or fancy clothes, yes?

    It’s a great horse.

    • Jacket Whys Says:

      You’re right about that. Since I took this photo as is – my comment really applies to the idea that the overwhelming majority of what gets out there seems to be the 1-person cover. Gone and The Singing have two. But there’s such a sameness to the shelf.

  2. This was so interesting! I have to say, Angela Johnson’s book SWEET, HEREAFTER totally stands out. I just looked it up. In this display, it’s that book and THE GLASS WORD (with the Egyptian-looking girl on the cover) that are most striking. All the other cover girls could be the same girl. I’m actually quite impressed with the cover of SWEET, HEREAFTER.

  3. Kelly Tubrid Says:

    Did you think that maybe the person creating the display likes the romantic girl-face books, and was at least aware enough of personal biases to include one with a boy as the focal point and one with a kid of color?

    I would say your exhibit says as much about the librarian doing book selection and whoever is selecting books to display as it does about teens and publishing. Sure, the books that look like that are there in great numbers, but there are other things being published for teens, too., that could be highlighted — that’s assuming they were purchased int he first place. You’d never know it from this display.

    • Jacket Whys Says:

      Actually it is ME doing the selecting. And I think readers of this blog know how I feel about all these face covers. This was a completely accidental display – it’s just the latest bunch of books to be processed.
      My take on this is that a very large percentage of the books published for teens in the last year or two are falling into this trend. It sells (seemingly) and times are rough. So what is done is what works.

  4. Please excuse me for the following self-serving post that refers to the cover of my own book, but I wish you would visit the Carolrhoda LAB page. Personally, I think the 2010 covers are brilliant–and there isn’t a pretty face on any of them.

    They are all red/black/white, and I have been interested to read your responses to covers using those colors.

    Honestly, I know that my cover is going to be offputting for some–but it reflects the book inside beautifully.

  5. The only thing I really want in a cover, as a reader, is not to be embarrassed to be seen with the book in public. As a writer, I hope first that this standard is met. Only GONE fully qualifies, and very close ALMOST for Angela Johnson’s book. One wonders if a male author was the influence?

    I know publishers NEED to target their core market first and foremost. But if they want crossover (boy readers, adult readers, etc), they need to get away from the pretty or romantic faces of kid girl models that belong on the cover of Seventeen Magazine. TWILIGHT taught us nothing? How ’bout BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, SHIVER, INCARCERON?

    Or how about a normal looking girl in a baggy Tshirt? Want to see one, you can click on my webpage. There’s nothing else there, you don’t have to stay, and it loads fast.

    • Oh, I don’t know that’ that’s a “normal girl in a baggy t-shirt”. That’s a conventionally pretty girl in a relatively tight cami.

  6. I think faces can sometimes work–if they’re people with horses or things that are relevant to the story, for one, or I think for some fantasy and historical fiction faces are nice, especially when the faces are not photos but actual famous paintings from the period, or something. And I was attracted to the Angela Johnson cover initially, but not because it was particularly interesting–just because, as you say, I see something of myself in it, unlike 99% of other face covers. But in general, yeah, I think covers without faces are superior.

  7. Hmmm. At least you get points for having books displayed face out; as a teen, I remember just seeing endless spines. At least the artwork/photographs are better than they were. Does speak to a lack of books for boys, though!

  8. Nope, dull as toast. I’m 21 and my whole life those covers have reminded me of the cheesy $2 romance novels (aka mom porn) my mom used to read. Hate to beat a dead horse, but the real winner was Stephanie Meyer. I saw that cover and thought. “Whoa, what is *that* about??” not even knowing it was YA

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