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Tag: book covers

Throwback Thursday, Book Cover Edition: Everything Old Is New Again

It’s a truism of reading that books are judged by their covers, no matter how much we feel in our hearts that we shouldn’t be swayed by looks. In my experience, teen readers feel especially passionate about this. Shabby book? No way. Juvenile or dated-looking cover? Pass! So I pay extra attention when older books are issued with fresh new covers. In the visual world of teen marketing, it can mean a new lease on life for many older books, and discovery by a whole new generation. Here are just a few examples:

face on the milk carton pair
1990 design vs. 2012 design


forever pair
1975 design vs. 2014 design

Double Cover Trouble

We all have our share of complaints about book covers – especially YA book covers. Dead-looking girls on covers, pretty dresses, white people, and almost-kisses abound. Lately, it looks like cover design has gotten better. It’s more focused on cool fonts, graphic design, symbolic representation. Slowly but surely, we’re seeing more people of color, and they’re less obscured by shadows, objects, or silhouettes. Happy as this makes me, I am a little worried about these upcoming titles and their ability to stand out in a crowd. A cover, whether we like it or not, directs a lot of a book’s interest and determines its circulation, and these are perhaps a bit too similar to other titles coming up. Make sure you study up now; you’re bound to have to clear up confusion for your patrons or yourselves when these almost-twins are released.

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer and Forever for a Year by B.T. Gottfried
In addition to similar-sounding titles, these covers feature similar fonts and shared curves, one with a film strip and one with cherries. Hillyer’s book, due out June 2, is about summer camp and second chances. One-time friends accidentally reunite and have the chance to recreate and perfect a summer – and figure out why their friendship ended. Gottfred’s book (July 7) is a romance, but it also deals with how forevers can be broken and it can be hard to pick up the pieces. Still, the plots should be different enough that you can figure out which one a patron is asking for – so long as you keep the titles straight.

NCAAL: Empowering the Voice of the Black Male in Children’s and Teen Lit

library1Only a month after many librarians were in Chicago for the 2013 ALA conference, a number repacked their bags this week and headed for the Cincinnati, Ohio/Covington, Kentucky area for the 8th National Conference of African American Librarians. The theme of the conference was Culture Keepers: Challenges of the 21st Century: Empowering People, Changing Lives. The conference had several tracks, and the Diversity and Cultural Heritage track included a panel called “Empowering the Voice of the Black Male in Children’s and Teen Lit.” The panelists and audience discussed a number of YA books and how they might or might not attract reluctant teen readers, especially young black men. The discussion began with talks about how black male children perceive the world of fiction: many see American fiction as a place where they do not belong or are not wanted. The result of this alienation is lower reading abilities and standardized test scores among these young men. The discussion centered on the differences in the kinds of material that attract boys vs girls, especially regarding covers, and how to change the current status quo.

Coverflips: The Not-So-Subtle Message of YA Cover Art

[Editor’s note: Maureen has posted a follow-up post.]

It started with a tweet:


That was May 6th. By May 7th, author Maureen Johnson’s tweet had turned into a full-blown challenge, with coverage all over the Internet. (You can follow the conversation and the challenge Johnson proposed on a variety of sites, from Tumblr to Twitter, with the hashtag #coverflip.)

Your Granny’s YA

While many mark the beginning of young adult literature around the time The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was published in 1967, authors had been penning teen novels for many decades by then. To start our look at retro YA, we’re going to go back about a century and then work our way forward from there.

Frank Merriwell was a Yale man who excelled at … everything. He was a teetotaler and didn’t smoke. His adventures were published as magazine articles from 1896 through 1912, and later as dime novels, comic strips, and collections of comic strips. He was portrayed through radio performance and in film.

Choose a Book by Its Cover

Every Day was one of The Atlantic Wire's most Wonderful Book Covers of 2012
Every Day was one of The Atlantic Wire’s most Wonderful Book Covers of 2012

Choosing a book by its cover is typically frowned upon, but lately I have been finding that it can be a great idea for both readers and libraries! Creating a book display centered solely on book cover art is not a new concept, but it is a visually appealing way to successfully recommend some good books. My library first learned about creating book recommendations based on the cover art for teens from another local teen librarian who was asking her teen advisory board to choose the next year’s lineup of book displays, with most of her displays choices being centered on similar visual imagery on book covers. What has been a surprise to me, though, is how popular some of our cover-themed displays have been with readers of all ages. They are eye-catching, they draw a browser in, and, as a result, we are constantly restocking these displays.

We’ve Already Covered This: New Trends In YA Cover Design

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

Whether you’re looking forward or back, this is a great time for young adult literature. Not only is there a quantity of quality literature out there to pick from, there is also an interesting study in book design. Some young adult book covers become instantly iconic, while other stories that stand the test of time go through many cover trends and represent a survey of publishing style. Here are a few things I’ve noticed lately when stepping back and looking at the shelves:

Have E-readers Killed the Bookcover?

Last year, during a teen book club meeting at the local high school, the subject of e-readers came up … who has one, who wants one, what do teens think, etc. But one of the teens shared something interesting: having an e-reader has changed what she reads. Why? Not because of the anonymity an e-reader lends, and only a bit because of the limited availability of digital downloads through the library. Instead, her reading choices have changed mainly due to (the lack of) browsability. Instead of being able to peruse the stacks, physically handle books, and look at their covers, she was stuck trying to determine her choices from itty-bitty thumbnail shots of book covers and too-laborious-to-access descriptions. To avoid all the trouble, this particular student began to read digitized classics because their titles, and covers, were recognizable. Her points made sense because — let’s face it — thumbnail shots of book covers leave much to be desired, especially if that is all one sees when “browsing” digital materials online.

Sure, there is a slew of research out there about how e-readers have begun to influence literacy in general, but what about book choice? How else have teens’ reading choices changed once getting an e-reader? So I hunted around online, inquired with some of my teen patrons, and this is what I found:

Gail Carriger News + How Book Covers Are Made

Gail Carriger (headshot by Robert Andruszko)

I recently fell in love with the writings of Gail Carriger. I can’t even recall how I discovered her. Perhaps it was through reference to her web site (“Hail the Victorious Parasol“), well-loved by fans (and now me!). For the steampunk uninitiated (or newly initiated), her web site is a great way to get into the whole steampunk “vibe.” Regardless of how it happened, I’m just glad that I did discover her. Many of you may already be familiar with her extremely popular steampunk series, The Parasol Protectorate. Though technically an adult series due to some mature sexual content, the series could also be appropriate for older teens. In that series, readers meet heroine Alexia Tarabotti, a woman armed with a silver-plated parasol worthy of taking on any vampires or werewolves. And there are vampires, werewolves, and ghosts aplenty in Carriger’s version of Victorian England.

Soulless, vol. 1

This series may also have popped on many radars since Yen Press recently released a manga version of the first book in the series, entitled Soulless. (Incidentally, the manga stays very faithful to the original novel–also titled Soulless–the artwork is terrific, and Soulless Volume 2 is scheduled for release in November 2012!)

New YA series from Carriger!

In even more exciting news, Carriger is set to release her first book in a new series for young adults! The series is called The Finishing School Series, and the first of four books will be called Etiquette & Espionage (due out in late 2012/early 2013). In Carrigers own words, from her web site: