Thursday, April 10, 2014

Four Cover Trends.

Wandering around the store today, procrastinating writing my fall event proposals, many of which were due today, I noticed several cover trends popping up.

1. On the edge of night.
Not black, not blue, but a midnight blue cover which connotes the evening sky seems to be all over the place of late. It's most noticeable in the May Indie Next List, where two titles from Simon and Schuster not only share a dark blue sky, but a typeface as well. I featured the Indie Next #1 pick jacket for All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. The other book, not pictured, is The Steady Running of the Hour, by Justin Go. Other books in this trend include the appropriately titled And the Dark Sacred Night, by Julia Glass, Vivian Shotwell's Vienna Nocturne, and Olen Steinhaur's The Cairo Affair.

2. Nothing beats a handwritten note.
Whether these are real hand-lettered covers, or computer-generated typefaces, handwriting is the new typeface. I have five examples here, including Maggie Shipstead's Astonish Me, Francesca Marciano's The Other Language, B.J. Novak's One More Thing, Michelle Huneven's Off Course, and one leftover from last year that is still selling, Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. Interestingly enough, all authors have been published by the Knopf Publishing Group at one point. I like this trend, but don't let that give you the idea that I like the B.J. Novak cover. I hate it; it looks cheap to me.

Boswellian Sharon Nagel wrote a recommendation for The Other Language. This seems as good a time as any to feature it. "The Other Language is a collection of nine beautifully written stories about people who have left their native country for various reasons, and are struggling to find their place in a foreign land. One of my other favorites is 'Roman Romance,' in which an Italian woman is reconnected with a man from her past, a now internationally famous rock star, known for a song that chronicled their love. Each story is a microcosm of fully realized characters, conversations, and complexities. They are strung together like pearls on a chain, each beautiful on its own, but something more when taken as a whole."

3. Iconic Images.
This is a trend that never seems to go out of style, but used to be particularly popular for commercial writers like Sidney Sheldon, and is still the model of choice for Danielle Steel. This batch includes Flash Boys, from Michael Lewis, Jesus:  A Pilgrimage, by James Martin, Glen Duncan's By Blood We Live, and Kate Mosse's Citadel. I guess Duncan's is more of a triple icon. Also note that there are a lot of white covers out there, even though they get scuffed up in bookstores and look washed out on websites. Surely someone loves them!

4. Down with stock photos.
There was a time when we'd see the same stock image used on several jackets, but now that I'm not the buyer, I don't spot these as frequently. I was also listening to a few authors talking about their experiences with covers. Customers still think they have a see in what happens, but they rarely do. They are often particularly surprised to find that the photo on a memoir is not of the author, but just a stock photo.

I picked these books because if I were a customer and didn't have a dozen upcoming event books to read (let alone the half dozen way in advance galleys that publishers begged me to consider before the Indie Next deadlines, which I mostly miss), I think I would buy these books, based on their jackets. Really this all came down to me loving the jacket for the center title, Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet, by Amara Lakhous, but I also love Kevin Brockmeier's A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip (which I already wrote up on the blog) and Marc Maron's Attempting Normal. I much prefer it to the photo covers you usually see for celeb books (including his hardcover)

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