HALL WAYS TALKS BOOK COVERS
It's no accident that I use #coverlove and #booklove a whole lot. When I was in graduate school in 2011, I went on a kick of exploring all the covers I could find for books I was about to read. I would find multiple covers of the book, along with the tag-lines, and discuss. When it suited me, I chose which cover drew me in the most beforehand and then which one most fit the book afterwards. Or, I would just write snarky commentary about the messages I thought the covers conveyed. Or I just showed multiple covers. This was loads of fun for me because, well, I'm me.
I have been mislead by covers, and I have been mislead by cover blurbs (both of these issues are fodder for a post all their own). I have loved covers so much that I had to have a place to keep them, so I created a Pinterest "Beautiful Book Covers" board. But guess what -- there are books there that I haven't even read. And there are books there that I read and didn't really like. The point is that book covers are a source of entertainment and eye-candy for me as much as the stories themselves. I can't imagine life without book cover art -- but I sort of can.
On my recent excursion to Deep Vellum Books in Dallas, there was a set of books whose spines and covers all looked remarkably similar. There was no cover art, with the books differing only in the solid color used and of course the titles. Not sure what they were about and maybe they were all by the same author? I guess that makes my point. I wasn't interested enough to even stop and look. (side note -- this book set aside, I DIG DEEP VELLUM BOOK STORE. Go there.)
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri suggests in her book, The Clothing of Books, that perhaps covers should be approached like school uniforms, so that all books can be represented equally on the shelf. I haven't read her book (which is about this very topic, and just 80 pages so I may), but in an interview it seems she says this tongue in cheek . . . but hmmm. What if? What if there were neat red covers for fiction, blue covers for non-fiction, and we readers had to be sold on the title? Or the promotional blurb alone (for surely, the pitch must be allowed in this scenario)? Can you imagine how much time it would take to choose a book? As Sweet Brown said, "Ain't nobody got time for that."
I have always said that I cannot imagine what it must be like to not only have a story to tell, but to have the ability to write it down and the bravery to release it into the world to be poked and prodded by strangers. I hadn't really realized that covers can sometimes be just as personal to an author as the stories held within them.