The above image is from a piece in The Atlantic about book cover designs (“Book Cover Clones: Why Do So Many Recent Novels Look Alike?”).
The article is interesting enough, but I was most focused on the fact that The Fault in Our Stars is the only Young Adult novel pictured and mentioned in the entire article (which includes the cover for J. K. Rowling’s new novel, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Safran Foer, and in the slideshow: George Orwell, David Sedaris, and Mark Haddon, among others.) I think there’s an interesting (if not unoriginal) idea there, about how the impact of book cover design on Young Adult vs Adult fiction. TFiOS is a YA novel, but the cover is designed in a far more adult fiction manner — I mean, in this Atlantic piece, the cover of TFiOS does not look at all out of place as some other YA fiction covers would be. It also brings to mind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which was marketed as adult literary fiction here in the States, but was published in England in two identical editions, one aimed at YA readers and one at adults — the only difference being the cover design. (Haddon is the author of The Red House whose cover is pictured above, next to The Fault In Our Stars).
Some non-hypothetical questions:
1) Do you guys consider Jonathan Safran Foer YA Fiction? Why or why not?
2) Is marketing YA fiction for adults by cover design a good way to get adults reading some (IMO, great) fiction they might not otherwise read because it is “YA”?
3) What are some of your favorite book covers?
I’m gonna end my silly thoughts with one of my favorite quotes from the piece, said by Paul Buckley, the Vice President and Executive Creative Director at Penguin Group USA and editor of Penguin 75: Designers, Authors, Commentary (the Good, the Bad…):
Some mainstay elements of cover composition seem to be entirely fad-resistant: “One trend that may never go away is women’s heads on covers, turned away from [the reader],” [Buckley] says. “Understandably, publishers put out many books where the protagonist is female, and we don’t want to spell out exactly what she looks like for the reader. Some mystery and filling in the blanks is necessary. Over the decades, I’d bet literally hundreds of book covers [were released] with women’s heads turned away from the viewer.” For evidence, one need only venture so far as the Women’s Fiction section of Amazon.com, where eight of the 50 top-selling titles feature female cover models with their backs turned—among them, J. Courtney Sullivan’s Maine, Karen White’s Sea Change, and Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Non-hypothetical question #4: Is women with their backs turned the literary version of women laughing while eating salad?