Friday, September 6, 2013

Copycat Covers

Remember a few years ago when seemingly every single book cover had a picture of a woman's legs on it? You would think publishers would learn from this and try to make their books stand out by creating unique covers, but the situation has only worsened.

Recently I've seen some covers that aren't just similar, but use the exact same photo.

Here's a young adult book called The Ruining:

And the nonfiction book Shouting Won't Help:

Oh sure, the color has been altered and the background is different, but you don't fool me, book cover designers. At least they are geared towards totally different audiences.

Not so with the next two.

Here's one of the covers for My Notorious Life by Kate Manning (which, by the way, I want to read):

And another fiction book called A Fatal Likeness:

Ok sure, one is the British edition and one is the American kindle edition, but that doesn't matter much in an age when we can just go on Goodreads and see ALL the covers.

The excuse for this is that they all use stock photos, which isn't much of an excuse if you ask me. It's just sloppy. (This sloppiness isn't just restricted to cover art either. Earlier this year, two books came out within weeks of each other with the exact same title: Life After Life. One by Kate Atkinson and one by Jill McCorkle. At least they had different covers.)

But there ARE still good covers being designed that don't look like replications of other covers. Take a few of my favorite books from last year: Where'd You Go Bernadette, Beautiful Ruins, and The Snow Child. Those covers were clearly designed rather than just assigned a photoshopped stock photo. So it's definitely still possible, and I would really like to see this be the norm rather than the exception.

Some have recently claimed that book covers will become less important now that we're all reading ebooks, but I remain unconvinced of that. First, we're not all reading ebooks and they are unlikely to completely replace paper books anytime soon; even teenagers prefer print. Second, if it wasn't for cover art, how would we make impulsive decisions about what to read? I don't care how judgmental it is, even librarians like me choose books by their covers.

With so many books being published it's difficult to make yours stand out. But it seems like publishers aren't even trying. Creating a unique cover would be an obvious way to do this and yet book covers are looking more and more the same. Of course I realize it's what's inside that is more important, but shoddy marketing is a real disservice to an author's hard work and I really hope this trend changes.

For those who would like to see more book cover lookalikes, I leave you with this Buzzfeed list of Book Cover Cliches. Do you have any to add to the list? And what do you think of this issue? Do you even care?

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