Monday, February 21, 2011

New Feature: Cover Play. Thoughts on Book Covers

From time to time I see a lot of posts about "whitewashing" of covers and also the lack of racial diversity in books. There are some wonderful  bloggers like Reading In Color who focus on books with racial diverse characters. I visit her blog regularly for book suggestions.

I'll admit I'm a bit conflicted on how to approach the topic. Frankly, it's my Mothers fault :) I'm biracial.  My parents are African American, my Grandfather was American Indian. My mother had a love for all cultures including her own. My toys, growing up always reflected a multicultural world. I had Barbies of ever race, baby dolls that were Black ,White and Latino. When I became a Star Wars geek at 10  my parents brought me every figure available. The same diversity was reflected in my reading. My mother read me fairy tales as diverse as 10001 Nights to Peter Pan.

So my book tastes are wide and varied.  I believe it's important to encourage diversity but at the end of the day the type of books I enjoy reading are going to take precedent. If those books have a racially diverse cast it makes them even more enjoyable but I don't make my book choices based on the ethnicity of  it's characters. I'm just not wired that way.

 So my goal with Cover Play is talk about diversity issues in books in my own way. To point out what I like and don't like and what I'd love to see more of. There are no easy answers with this topic. I'll admit I don't really know all the answers myself  but I do know that the industry WILL respond to sales. So the books we support now will definitely make a difference in the books we see in the future. Here we go!

                                    A Tale of Two Covers

 I love both of these covers! I've become quite a fan of AngryRobotBooks I requested a review copy of the above version of the book. I liked the cover blurb and the mystery element. The book takes place in South Africa , but I didn't realise the main character was Black until I got the info sheet with the book. The top cover is for the U.S./Canada release of the book. I like the fact that the US cover reflects the  ethnicity of the cast in the novel.

 The Agency 

I was very excited to find this book through the Reading in color blog. I love period mysteries so I bought this book right away!


I picked up Heart of Stone because I really like gargoyles, and had heard good things about the series. While reading the book I was surprised to find the Heroine was biracial. This cover doesn't really reflect it. The book and series is really enjoyable overall.

                                     Cover Controversy

I read a blog post showing  that the male figure pictured in the ARC was retouched for the final book cover. I really love this cover. I think it really showcases the science fiction elements of the story. When I started reading Across the Universe I had no idea that the main male lead was Black, that in fact the entire ship consisted of residents who through centuries of controlled breeding were all now a similar shade of "Brown". I really enjoyed this and the fact that Revis incorporated this in her book. Now that the book is a success I would love for Razorbill to reflect the diversity of the cast. maybe a different cover for the paperback showcasing an illustrated or model representation of this interracial couple.

 I love what was done with Dia Reeves books! Beautiful colors and a model that represents the character.


I haven't read this book yet but the cover is very creepy and eye catching. I would definitely pick up this book to read the cover blurb. really engages curiosity in what the book is about. 



I would also love for publishers to take a nod from the Comic Book world and make some "variant" book covers. Variant comics are reprints of the same book with a different cover. They can focus on a different aspect of the comic story or have nothing at all to do with the book .
How great would it have been to have one or two thousand copies of Across The Universe with a model representation of Amy and Elder? they would be super rare and create quite a buzz about the book. Or even change the cover for the paperback release.  I really would like publishers to take a risks with the covers. After all they believe in the books themselves or else they wouldn't purchase them! It's time to take a leap and fairly represent the products being published.

So what do you guys think about this topic?


Anonymous said...

Wonderful feature idea! Seeing more diversity in books and book covers would be awesome. I had no idea there was a cover controversy for Across the Universe, wow, I so agree it'll be interesting to see what they publish for the paperback version later. The variant book covers sounds like a great idea, it would be like special editions, like they do with DVDs and CDs. I love that they have extra features and super lovely packaging.

Vampires and Tofu said...

Variant covers is a great idea!! Maybe someone will pick up on that!

jen7waters said...

I hope you enjoy A Spy in The House, Kai! It's a great book, and the hardback covers are lovely indeed :)