New trends in cover design
by Ellie Robins
There’s a great post over on the TLS blog about the latest trends in book covers. Gone are the headless women of yesteryear; in recent seasons, David Horspool tells us, there have been three predominant trends:
First up: Legs. Says Horspool: ‘Most of the legs belong to girls, and it has been suggested that if the feet are turned in, that means pathos, if not downright misery. One foot kicked up, and you can expect laughs, or at least some bitter-sweetness. As you can see, designers are now branching out into boys’ legs, but still no faces.’
The Backs of Women Looking Out over Water. It’s watery, it’s wistful, there’s a distance into which to stare meaningfully. And, crucially, it doesn’t crowd the reader’s imagination with an actual face. It’s the new headless woman.
How would you know it was a thriller if there weren’t a Tiny Man Walking into the Distance?
Horspool questions design decisions that make it virtually impossible to distinguish between books, but the one comment left on the post is an interesting reminder that designers are seldom (if ever) solely responsible for such derivative work. Marika Cobbold, whose covers you’ll see in two of these three categories, says:
I was making precisely the same points to my publishers, Bloomsbury, when we were designing the jackets for my new paperback “Drowning Rose”… The talented designers there came up with some beautiful and different designs based on the simple broken cup that featured on the cover of the trade paperback of Drowning Rose. These new designs were shown to the buyers from the big book chains and they all rejected them, saying they wanted “photographic covers with people.” Like you, I can’t understand why chasing the tail of a vanishing trend is supposed to be a good idea, but try tell that to the key account buyers.
Sadly for authors, designers and publishers themselves, that back-and-forth is all too familiar.
Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.