The Oh So Bland Cover

I came across this book the other day, as I often do when visiting a book store, which is big retail sale area with lots of books in it, but that’s not important right now. Said book had a cover and in the cover I saw the following:

  1. A young Caucasian female, in her early to mid twenties, although she could still audition for a role in a “teen drama”;
  2. She has low cut jeans or leather pants and a short shirt that stoped somewhere north of the navel and highlighted her breast,
  3. She canters to the left or right highlighting her child-bearing hips,
  4. She has a knife in hand, not a sword or axe or even a spear, but a knife,
  5. The background is hazy/smoky and you can see the silhouette of a monstrous creature, wolf or a handsome man embedded in the mist.

Guess what type of book am referring too? An urban fantasy one, especially one where the heroine is all post-modern and liberated. Made worse if the girl in the cover has her back to the viewer/reader and has a tramp stamp (because nothing says “I’m a woman, here me roar” like the word tramp).

Although Molly Weasley and the word “bitch” put together screams girl power!

OK, but what does all of that have to do with the title of the post? (You ask.)

Everything. (I answer.)

Because I’m not just talking about just ONE urban fantasy book cover, I’m talking about 90% them. Same thing with space based science fiction (flying space ships) and fantasy (a guy/gall with a sword/staff and a dragon). Now the individual cover may have top notch art and impressive graphics, but all of that is for not if it looks like EVERY OTHER BOOK IN THE SAME SHELF!

Wasted marketing budget=EPIC FAIL!

Now, it is a well known fact that covers lie. The young lady in question may not even own any leather pants and it’s smart enough to pack an assault rifle when hunting demons and the like, but guess what nobody is going to bother reading about it if it looks like the the rest of the books in the genre. No writer can expect much success for their novel when it is  washed in a sea of colorful sameness. Unless I am familiar with the writer through some other means (blog, reviews, friend reference, etc) I probably ogle at the sexy butt for a second or two and then move on.

Now, many stories are successful in spite of this, but I got to ask, how many books get left in the shelf because of it? At least the store employees know where it goes in the store.

Now, I don’t have any ideas about what to do about this, so I welcome any and all suggestions.

Thank you.

And now for an example of the exact opposite:

10 comments on “The Oh So Bland Cover

  1. Heh, your post reminds me of this: http://juno-books.com/blog/?p=284

    I do hope they start thinking a little more creatively.


    • I can’t claim that mine are truly original thoughts Tasha as the evidence is plain for all to see. It still a bit sad that considering the hard times hitting the industry you would see a bigger effort to break with the herd. Then again, time like these don’t encourage originality in the risk adverse.


  2. Oh, I’d just linked to the other article because I found the whole butt shot thing funny.

    Your post was darn funny, too. And spot on.

    Maybe if even more people blog about this, the powers-to-be will sit up and take notice? Hmm…one can hope.

    I find it interesting that when times are tough, businesses such as publishing become even more conservative. I think it’s times like this that one should ponder, “Hmmm…this isn’t working as well anymore. Let’s start thinking outside the box.”


  3. btw, when I said I wished they would start thinking more creatively- I meant the book cover folks. From your response, I think you misunderstood and thought I meant your post?


    • Nah. I can’t claim to be original (I was going to write that in the post “originally). So no harm done. I agree with your statement and the link was pretty cool too.


  4. ralfast, I’m afeered now. I didn’t even read this post until just now and somehow the blog post I made earlier ties to yours. *cue twilight zone music*


  5. Yep, UF is starting to get stock covers the way certain types of romance have stock covers –handsome shirtless-or-mostly-unbuttoned-shirt-man-with-abs-of-steel looms heroically over wilting-woman-with-long-flowing-tresses, both oozing passion all over the page.

    Just once I’d like to see a pallid powergeek type with bad hair being wooed by a Brunhilda in an Adidas sport top. Or a UF where the female protag is screaming in panic as weird-supernatural-thing trees her in a city park. 🙂


    • At least those covers are…accurate, although certainly bland. Yes, but those tend to be left to Horror-YA ones. Now that I think about it, to what market are these covers appealing to with these butt/bum shaking UF-Femme Fatale covers?

      Guys that ogle at Playboy/Sports Illustrated (SI Edition) issues?

      What the message(s) that they send about the content?


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