The YA tribe. –

The YA tribe.


13 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

So this article over at the Huffington Post was brought to my attention – “YA Cover Girls on Top”

Apparently since I’m a 20-something YA book blogger, I’m part of a YA readers “tribe.”  The word “tribe” just immediately makes my mind wander to “primal,” which definitely isn’t the point of the article at all.  The article is instead about this:

YA readers are part of a tribe; and YA covers signify that the book is special, meant just for members of their tribe. ‘This is ours, not yours,’ the book cover declares. As a lifelong reader, writer, and lover of literature, I want to be part of this tribe, which, like all groups, is full of contradictions. I have a lot to learn from book bloggers and — I believe — a lot to offer them. And I decided I want a book cover that will attract this tribe to my novel The Earthquake Machine, a book that asks the reader to think critically about everything from immigration to limitations imposed by gender.

Lowry goes so far as to say that “YA bloggers’ [have a] fetishistic love of book covers.”  To prove this, she says she’s witnessed some strange things, particularly in vlogs: “YA bloggers often go so far as to caress their favorite book covers, an activity I have dubbed ‘cover stroking.’”

In my almost two years in the book blogging world, I have not watched someone’s vlog in which they “stroked” a cover. And I’m quite glad that I haven’t. But it got me thinking. Lowry also mentions how cover reveals have become this major aspect of a book’s promotion.  And maybe I just don’t get it because I could care less about a cover reveal, but how much do they really influence us? How much do they influence you?

Are we really placing THAT much importance on covers in the YA book market? Are we inadvertently falling in love with and promoting unattainable and/or unrealistic qualities and standards of beauty for women?

I pulled these covers from the Barnes and Noble Teen bestsellers list:

What is it that you first notice about them? Perhaps the flawless skin. The beautiful make up.  The dresses. The sex appeal.

Do any of those things contribute to your liking, or attraction to, any of these covers? I’d say the above covers are aesthetically pleasing. I certainly wouldn’t call any of them hideous.

Is it our liking of these beautiful covers that creates the cover trends we ultimately begin to complain about? For a period of time, I remember, covers were detailing close-ups of dramatic eyes. Then we had enough of that and close-ups of lips became the new eyes. Then it was whole faces. Then it was legs.  Each time, the covers seem to focus on at least one part of the female anatomy – from head to toe.

But what does that say of our “tribe”? Could book covers still be aesthetically pleasing and, uh, stroke-worthy, if they didn’t plaster seemingly perfect girls on them? I think so. There are plenty of covers I like purely for the fonts or colors. But I do think there’s something to be said for the covers we, as YA book bloggers, as a majority, favor.  And the ones above are perfect examples. The good news, as Lowry mentions, is that “bloggers may still value images and ideas of beauty that are limited enough to be harmful; but if book covers lead young readers to books that ask them to think critically, then one of these days bloggers may begin demanding more covers, and books, that acknowledge more expansive notions of female beauty.”

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13 Responses to “The YA tribe.”

  1. Anne says:

    Wow, that’s really interesting. I guess covers don’t matter to me as much as some people. I certainly wouldn’t put any of those best-sellers you pictured on my favorite covers lists. Thinking about it, the majority of my favorite *covers* are more abstract and rarely feature a human face. Several don’t have people on them at all! That said, I know what publishers want me to think when I see a cover so I still judge a little on that, because I know what kind of cover they tend to put on the kind of book I like to read, if that makes sense.

    This is definitely a topic that needs some more thinking about! Thanks for bringing it to my attention =)

  2. Wow. Huh. Tribe?
    I tend to be more embarassed of covers like these ones. I prefer the jackets of books like SHINE or HUNGER GAMES or anything really androgynous. The real beauty is within, right? 😉 I do hug my books sometimes. No judging.

    • Alissa says:

      Haha, no judging!

      I also prefer androgynous book covers. Like I said, I can be attracted simply by the font.

  3. Gaby says:

    I’ve always been a cover person. I beautiful cover catches my eye, but that doesn’t mean I will read the book. But I don’t think the covers are important only in YA….have you seen chick lit covers? Historical Romance? UF? Sci Fi? Every genre, from children to adult, is making their covers more appealing.

    • Alissa says:

      I agree! I think every category has gotten smarter into creating covers to appeal to larger audiences. Sometimes I see covers in the regular fiction section that look like they could easily pass on the YA shelves.

  4. We Heart YA says:

    We saw the piece too. And we think it makes some good points, gives us all some food for thought. However, the four of us are NOT fans of the covers to which she is referring and which you have shown above, and never really have been. We much prefer covers like that of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, or PEGASUS, or MARCELO AND THE REAL WORLD. (See more that we like here – And we do NOT care for either of her two covers… Bottom line: we’d be curious to see if she actually TALKED to any bloggers or readers about their cover preferences, or whether she’s just making ass

    • Alissa says:

      I made sure to check if there was any positive feedback at all for the cover and book over at Goodreads (and there is), but beyond that, I don’t know.

      I think it’d make for an interesting follow-up article, for her to discuss this almost sort of research that she did.

  5. elena says:

    I actually don’t like those covers very much! I prefer not to really have faces on the cover because they’re rarely done well. It’s weird because it seems like the US has this trend and the UK gets better covers since they have different tastes. In the end, I don’t read YA for the covers otherwise I probably wouldn’t even read the books at all, ha.

  6. Ruby says:

    *raises hand* Guilty. I love a beautiful book cover, and all too often, that mean a pretty dress or a pretty face. But I also think that part of the reason I like these covers is because they’re more likely to be books I’ll enjoy. But which came first? I don’t know.

    • Alissa says:

      I understand. I know I’ve definitely overlooked certain books because of their lacking beautiful covers. I know which looks of books tend to provide me with a story I want to read.

  7. Sarah says:

    Honestly? The thing I hate most is when they put faces on covers. Period. It’s completely possible to do a beautiful book cover without a face or a person. I hate it though because I don’t want to have any influence of how to imagine the main character in my head — and usually the girl on the cover is meant to be the main character. It drives me up the wall.

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