Judging a Book's Cover

(That’s probably a horrible headline, but I don’t think I have any skills in headline writing.)

Since David reviewed The Diviners by Rick Moody last week, I’ll ask if you saw the news on its cover art. Ahem, so did you see the news . . .

The cover art was changed after booksellers and insiders responded and mostly rejected the book at first glance, according to reports. You can see the revised cover when you buy The Diviners through this Amazon link and help Kevin keep his children in shoes. What you see on the movie screen in the revised cover was the whole cover in the original (temporarily available on Alibris.com). Publisher Little, Brown didn’t employ diviners in choosing a cover, because Moody’s largely female audience rejected it. They thought it was a brauny historical novel, not cultural satire. I’m surprised by the fact that Moody’s name alone didn’t encourage faithful readers to read something of it before rejecting. This is the reaction I expect from readers who don’t know Moody at all.

For example, the paperback cover of Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons doesn’t offer the title at all. Take a look at it here. Green dress on white silouette, Wolfe’s name, and on the back, reviews. Does this edition say, “Surely you remember this one from talk of the hardback,” or does it say, “The girl is the title; do you really need words”?

But even when you get the cover art right, your booksellers may get it wrong. Multnomah Publishers released the book After You’ve Blown It: Reconnecting with God and Others a year ago last February with the cover you’ll see on Amazon. But a slightly different cover which had yet to be fully approved was sent to booksellers a little early, and some in the blogsphere thought the designer was suggesting something inappropriate. The unapproved cover may be available here. The publishers reports that the designer meant nothing wrong by that early cover and no books were ever printed with the artwork.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.