This morning while surfing Amazon to check out two new books that were recommended by BuzzFeed for Spring release (The Duke of Undone and To Love and to Loathe) the page loaded with more recommendations. Each of the covers displayed the new cartoon-type artwork that seems to be a new trend being pushed by traditional publishing companies. These came from St. Martin’s Griffin (Macmillan), Berkley (Penquin), Atria Books (Simon & Shuster), and Kensington Books. (Shame on Kensington, because they used to have some of the most beautiful artwork when it came to covers.)

Is it just me disappointed with this new push? What’s behind the change from the big houses? Is it to save money? Brand themselves apart from independent authors?

What are your thoughts? Chime in on the comments.

Yea?

Nay?

Okay?

Ugh? I think it’s obvious that I’m in the “ugh” category. Give me artwork and wonderfully design covers any day.

It appears Julia Quinn has new covers for her books. Curious where these photos were sourced? If you read my recent post, “Judging a Book by the Cover,” you’ll find these at Fine Art America. The is a particular photographer based in Manchester, UK by the name of Lee Avison. It’s worth checking out the site for his fabulous period images.

Following the success of the “Bridgerton” television series, the “Bridgerton” novels are getting a revamp.

William Marrow has revealed exclusively to “Good Morning America” that it is releasing new covers for each of Julia Quinn’s “Bridgerton” novels.

Source: EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: New covers of the Bridgerton novels released – ABC News

Jon

They say men are stimulated visually. It’s not what they hear whispered in their ears – it’s what they see with their eyes that move them toward sex and romance. For the most part, I do think that men are wired that way. However, when it comes to reading steamy historical romance novels, women are not only moved by the story, but by the covers that give us a glimpse of the hero and heroine in a passionate embrace.

Historically, the genre bombarded readers with bare-chested, muscular males, with shirts falling off their backs, toned physiques, and six-pack abs. The heroines were women with unbuttoned or unlaced dresses in the back, overflowing breasts from low necklines, and lustful scenes of kissing in provocative poses. These scenes set the stage for the forthcoming sexual tension between the characters and build the reader’s anticipation of what is to come between the pages.

The old adage you can’t judge a book by its cover is really only a half-truth because I dare say historical romance covers set the scene, tempts us with what’s inside, and reveals the type of book we’re about to read, or at least it should.  Personally, I’m drawn to the covers either positively or negatively.

Over the years, the amount of steamy covers has diminished somewhat. I believe this is due partially to the strict guidelines set by some platforms such as Facebook where authors routinely advertise their books.  If the cover pose is too provocative, they will refuse to run the advertisement.  Even I have had a cover rejected because a female was on top of the hero who had an unbuttoned shirt!  She was fully clothed.  I ended up changing the cover because I couldn’t advertise the book.

Many covers nowadays have a sole character on the front, either the hero or heroine.  There is definitely a proliferation of women in flowing dresses as the norm.  Men can be either fully dressed or with open shirts.  You will notice a lot of similarities in covers with authors adopting stylistic features such as fonts as part of an author’s branding. Books in a series often carry the same thematic designs.

There are many talented graphic artists that produce fantastic covers in the industry. Large publishing houses can afford the best artists and highly paid models to grace their covers. One artist, in particular, is Jon Paul. You will recognize his work on many covers coming from traditional publishing houses. I have reposted one cover in the blog post created by Jon Paul with his permission.

Many indie authors and traditional publishers are also turning toward stock photography on sites such as Dreamstime, iStockPhoto, Getty Images, Shutterstock, and Adobe.  Some higher-end photography sites such as Fine Art America and Trevillion are used by publishers, but usage rights are extremely expensive. There are also romance cover sites, such as Period Images, which I highly recommend, as well as Romance Novel Covers. The prices are reasonable and licensing terms are fairly straightforward. Frankly, I’ve thought for many years that photographers have a goldmine of opportunity if they would focus more on historical era shots with men and women in the fashions of the time. I’m happy to see an increase in such photographs on the market.

However, just purchasing a photograph isn’t the end of the design process. The real artistry, of course, comes when a picture is chosen, as well as a background, and then it’s turned into a cover story that is unique. There are many graphic artists who design covers for authors.  Some independent authors, if they are savvy enough, do their own covers if they are professional in appearance.  Poor cover art does not sell books.  Authors are wise to learn the rules about license usage rights, model releases, and copyright law when dealing with photography. Better to be safe than sued for damages in a court of law for infringement.

Since Fabio’s earlier days of book cover shots, with his long hair, chiseled face, and body, it seems the standard for romance covers hasn’t changed very much until recently. We now have new models and artists on the scene and the advent of advanced design techniques not available in the past.

Last fall, however, quite a few books released by traditional publishing houses such as Berkley, Kensington, Hachette, and Zebra were bright-colored cartoon-type covers, which are not my favorite. I wondered if this was an attempt to save money during the Covid lock-down months.  They remind me of contemporary books along the line of cozy mysteries rather than steamy romance.  Here are the titles if you want to take a look.  A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore, Notorious by Minerva Spencer, Mr. Malcome’s List by Suzanne Allain, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins, and A Duke, The Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley.  Frankly, I hope this is a short-lived trend because the joy of historical romance covers is the gorgeous works of art that inspire readers.

In any event, a well-designed cover does the trick. It will either entice us to purchase or not. Frankly, I remember the days when I loved to buy novels with beautiful covers and keep them on my bookshelf like works of art. Now, we enjoy them on high definition digital readers. Wherever they meet our eyes, in print or on-screen, the cover should be an enticing introduction to the story we are about to read.

As a reader, do you judge a book by the cover?  Do you pass on books with poorly design covers, even though the story inside might be terrific?  I’m curious to know.

Latest recommendations floating around the web for historical romance books.

Grab these Fall historical romance books and read enchanting stories of love and desire set in charming historical settings.

Source: Fall’s historical romance picks – She Reads

Beyond these recommendations, I’m sure I’m NOT into these new type of covers for historical romance. They incite no character imagination as far as I’m concerned, and I wonder if it’s a new trend. Give me the bodice ripper covers any day.

As a note, these are all coming from traditional publishing houses such as Berkley, Kensington, Hachette, and Zebra. Is this an attempt to save money in some fashion? Is it a conspiracy to do away with cover art? They remind me of contemporary books along the line of cozy mysteries.

I hope this trend dies because half of the joy of historical romance novels are the gorgeous covers that inspire. They are art forms. Jon Paul Studios has been the go-to for many of these publishers in the past. Check out his website and the pictures you can purchase.

What are your thoughts on this new trend? Yea or nay?

You may not know the term by name, but you’ve probably seen one. Learn about the origin of clinch covers on romance novels, and why this reader loves them.

 

Source: The Origin of Clinch Covers on Romance Novels | Book Riot