I love book covers; I designed one of my wife’s—not the best, but it broke a long publisher/author stalemate—and marveled as the rest went by. Cover design is a dark art. The right cover is crucial to the success of a novel, but designers can’t afford to spend too much time or money on them, and seek safety in herds.
Book Cannibal has a funny piece on The Mystery of the Decapitated Cover Models, “There are certain trends in publishing that baffle me. … [W]hat’s with all these covers that feature half of some girl’s face?” They start with the Gossip Girl books, but they’re everywhere, including LibraryThing author Elizabeth Bear’s novels.
Book Cannibal wonders about the phenomenon, providing one good explanations, via her editor:
“The editor explained that B&N wants covers with live models (as opposed to scenery, or abstract painting, or an icon). Sometimes, the models aren’t quite the right age (I’m guessing this is the case re: Gossip Girls), but if you cut off part of their face, voila! Youth. You can slice away the years.”
Readers provide some others. I’m minded to look a few years back, when feet and shoes were all the rage, as Trashionista reminds us (see also GalleyCat’s dissection). First it was just feet, now we’re up to the jaw. This is progress, I suppose.
Anyway, I spent an enjoyable hour surfing book covers. This ended in 20 minutes of uncontrollable laughting at Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books, including this cover, with the nice observation “Why is the executive wearing a prep school jacket?”
*Famous New York Post headline, also the title of a book subtitled “The Best Headlines from Americas Favorite Newspaper.”