Last time I wrote about covers, specifically the trend in historical covers to use photograph-like images of people, and how that threw me a bit because I know color photography didn't exist at the time the book is set. Clearly I am thinking WAY too much while I look at covers!
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But a reader e-mailed me and asked for examples, as they didn't understand what I meant. I found two covers that illustrate (ha!) what I'm talking about.
Kate Noble is one of my favorite historical authors, and I really enjoyed her last two books. Her new book, If I Fall, is out April 3 from Berkley, and the new cover is highlighted here.
It's a bit of a departure from her earlier covers, which featured illustrations of women—women without all of their heads, I might add. Here are just a few examples: The Summer of You, Follow My Lead and Revealed.
I love so many of the elements on the cover for If I Fall: the colors, the yellow gown, and fact that the woman looks like an adult and not like a teenager. I love the garden setting and the emphasis on being outside—all of Noble's covers have had different emphases on gardens and foliage.
But the fact that it's a photograph just throws me. Then I start to notice the trim on the dress and think, did sequins exist at that time period?
The older covers are very different. They're illustrations, and they stood out for me at the time of publication, because they depicted a woman in movement. The fluidity of the dress and her posture were capturing a person running or dancing, and the contained movement in the image grabbed my attention. Why was the model on the cover of The Summer of You (Berkley 2010) running around in her nightgown? Why is the woman on the cover of Follow My Lead (Berkley 2011) laughing and running in a garden? The images made me want to find out what was going on in the books, because the images weren't a pose, but a captured moment of energy. I was intrigued.
The photograph doesn't intrigue me as much. But none of this is going to stop me from reading If I Fall, and I cannot wait to read it. It's just that the trend in using photographs of people in costume for historical single titles is not really working well for me.
Yet some folks who spoke to me via Twitter, like Cheryl D, said they rather liked it because it lends realism to the covers, and certainly it does.
Now that I've ruminated about the cover change on the Noble book, I realized that, despite my not liking it, it's worked. I've looked closer at the book, I've read the back cover and reserved a copy to read. The name of the author might have grabbed me first, as it's a name that's known to me—and boy did I like her previous books!—but the cover also caught my attention longer than most, and that's definitely the job of the cover art.
So perhaps it's not such a bad thing that there are photographs on the covers. They look different enough that they stand out, and catching the reader's eye, even because it's perhaps an odd anachronism, is always an effective thing for a cover to do!
What covers have caught your attention and why?
Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.