Judge a Book by Its Cover?

by Karen Wills

Who doesn’t love to browse in the fiction section of bookstores? Much of that joy comes from perusing book covers. Did you ever wonder how the publishers draw us in, how they pick their cover art designs? I found a few answers at the 2015 Historical Novel Society Conference.

The session on The Art of Book Cover Design taught me that those pictures with the “headless bodice” are a strong trend right now. They let readers imagine themselves in those ball gowns or romantic negligees. Another reason is that sometimes everything in a photo shoot is right, the pose, the dress, the setting—all but the model’s face. So, she appears from the neck down. Full-face covers say, “Nice to see you!” We want to know the story behind that compelling stranger’s expression. There’s also the “Got your back” cover which is a woman seen from the back. We sense she’s facing a trial or challenge and we’re behind her to give support.

There are also covers with evocative, symbolic images like flowers or castles (or my own Remarkable Silence). Some covers feature accessories like shoes by a doorway or a dress thrown across a divan. These are mysterious.
And even type font chosen for the title is a factor. It can let people know the time of the story. For example, we’ve all seen

the Art Deco typeset for books set in that era. Classic font still rules, however, because it’s timeless and easy to read.
Book covers are part of the joy of choosing what we read. They invite us inside irresistible worlds. Let’s find a bookstore, or look through our e-books menu, and browse.

Remarkable Silence Karen Wills

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