Friday, May 24, 2013

Flip that Cover

Did you catch YA author Maureen Johnson in the news last week? Jennie takes a look at what it means to "Coverflip"

We’ve all been told to never judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it—we all do it. 

But how good are covers? Do they really tell us what a book is about?

Maureen Johnson (author of books such as 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, and The Madness Underneath) often talks about how female and male authors, readers, and their books are treated differently. One big way they’re treated differently is what kind of books their covers get. If a book is written by a woman, it’s more likely to get a cover that makes it look like the story is something fun and light, with lots of romance, but not to be taken too seriously.  If it’s written by a man, the cover often makes the story looks serious and substantial.

Take a look at the cover for Something Like Normal by Trish Dollar (see our review here):
What’s the book about? It looks like a kissing romance!

Except, while there is kissing, it’s also about war, and PTSD, and death. The kissing is just a minor part. If you’re looking for a kissing book, you may be disappointed. If you’re looking for a book from a male point-of-view about reentry after a war, would you think this was the book for you? Here’s Dollar’s original cover concept:
From Doller's blog post here.
Same book, two very different looks.

Earlier this month, Johnson put out a challenge on Twitter—to redesign a book cover to make it look like it was written by an author of the opposite gender.  The results are surprising.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner is about a group of boys who live in a maze, with no memory of how they got there, until the day a girl shows up. Here’s the actual cover of the book and what Kaci thinks it would have looked like if the same book had been written by Jane Dashner:

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan is about when Percy discovers he’s a demigod, and falsely accused of stealing Zeus’s lightning bolt. Here’s the actual cover and what Lucy thinks Rachel Riordan’s version would be:


Tamar by Mal Peet is a gripping novel about spies in Belgium during WWII. There is a good dose of romance in this book, which you can’t tell from the original cover, but is evident in Grace’s version by Melanie Peet:
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen is a romance about a girl who won’t let anyone in and a rock musician. The original cover is pretty generic and Meg’s version by Scott Dessen gives a better flavor:

Maureen Johnson’s own Key to the Golden Firebird is about a girl learning to drive and her recently deceased father’s car. The original cover doesn’t say much about the story, but Sarah’s version by Maurice Johnson shows some key elements of the story:


From Sarah's Tumblr
What covers would you flip? What would they look like?

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