Running for Cover. Two.

Although much of it is hilariously bad, sub-par, clichéd drivel: I really like fantasy/sci-fi cover art (when it’s good, that is, of course).  But recently a large number of publishers have ditched the beautiful painting/artwork that is such a hallmark of genre fiction and replaced it with dark, homogenised, minimalist symbol-imagery style cover designs.  Obviously trending on the back of a Lord of the Rings overhaul ((pictured) and hot on the heels of the Twilight novels’ massive rise in popularity), it’s a cynical example of associative marketing; ‘if our book looks like that bestseller, maybe people will think it’s the same?’.  So: black covers with little symbols in the centre are very much en vogue, it seems.  Take a look at how creepily similar some of these re-designs are (all very new, emerging in the last couple of years) – I prefer the paintings:

                                           OLD                                   NEW

The Fantastic Boy complained: “All my friends are changing,” he said “they used to be so colourful; but now they’re dark, and I can barely tell them apart.”

9 responses to “Running for Cover. Two.

  1. These are amazing. I seem to recall someone doing a rather scathing piece on the preponderance of covers featuring two vaguely post-war lovers embracing in a railway station not too long ago! And don’t even get me started on the identikit dust jackets of those bloody ‘misery memoirs’ that take up half of WH Smith…

    I myself have recently become obsessed with the hegemony of DVD covers of B-move horrors available on Netflix (the US equivalent of LoveFilm), and have started collecting the most nasty, baffling, or downright bizarre I can find. (Bit less highbrow, sorry.)

  2. Haha, yeah I loved the badness of the Wheel of Time cover art…. particularly Crown of Swords. I mean, look at those arms, and then look at the weird little skinny legs *laughs at it even now*:

  3. I have to say… I prefer the Stephen King and Neil Gaiman newies and actually really really like the Greg Bear new edition (would be much more likely to be picked up by me in a shop as I can’t quite work out what it says lol), the others though… its the first version all the way, more personality.

  4. Showing my age here, but the original LOTR covers were distinctly similar to those above, just not black backgrounds! They had a ring / tower graphic in the middle of the cover just like those. 🙂

  5. Hmm. In fact I think the minimalist cover art is more effective in cases here. Steven King’s IT, for instance, certainly benefits.

    Interesting thing about the Kindle, incidentally: it totally removes biases based on cover art etc. In addition, the font is the same on each book you read. This is something I hadn’t realised before I switched to eBooks, but typography has some impact on the reading experience. Using a Kindle, the emphasis is much more on the writing itself. This, I think, is a good thing, even though it removes a little from reading an individual book.

    • I don’t hate the new covers – far from it; they’re just all so similar:: blatant marketing attempts to cash-in on the success of other books. I much prefer the paintings though – I really like good sci-fi art.

      I don’t have a Kindle, I use a Sony PRS which accommodates different fonts – also, Sony don’t wirelessly remove books from it like Amazon have the Kindle… 😉

  6. Pingback: Teatro Grottesco – Thomas Ligotti « tomcat in the red room

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