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Cover trends: black, white, and a fabulous font

If there’s one thing I’ve learned working with young adult fiction, it’s that covers matter. More often than not, a good cover moves a book off the shelves faster than anything else, including a popular author, a funny title, or good word-of-mouth. Teens are visual people, and they make judgements quickly, so an eye-catching cover, at least at my library, pretty much guarantees good circulation. And a bad cover? A bad cover can kill a book, no matter how great the book is.

Publishers, smarties that they are, know the importance of a good cover, and covers, like anything else, are subject to trends.  We’ve all seen the girls in gorgeous dresses; giant, hairobscured faces; and kissing couples (lots of them).

Maybe, like me, you’re getting a little tired of some of those trends (our February 20th poll showed that!) Luckily, there’s something new showing up YA covers. The above trends and lots of other YA covers are photography-based, but this new trend is less photographic and more … well, graphic. Instead of stock photos, these covers are based on strong, minimalist color schemes, simple illustrations, and fonts that look loose and hand-drawn.

Here’s the UK cover of Maggie Stiefvater’s Printz honor title, The Scorpio Races:

Scorpio Races

Here’s John Green’s newest novel, The Fault In Our Stars:

The Fault In Our Stars

Blue, black, and white is a subset of this trend. It’s also featured on the paperback cover of the 2012 Printz winner, Where Things Come Back

Where Things Come Back

…and debut novelist R.J. Palacio’s Wonder:


I saved the next cover for last because it brings the post full circle. It has a simple color scheme and a bold font, but it’s also got a giant face in the middle of it:

Black Boy, White School

You know what they say: cover trends change, but giant faces are forever.

–Emily Calkins, currently reading Plain Kate

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One Comment

  1. I don’t know how mnay times I’ve found myself saying “you know what they say: cover trends change, but giant faces are forever.”

    You are so wise, Emily!

    PS – I love this article. Cover trends are so so interesting to me!

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