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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