It’s Get Caught Reading Month, and that started me thinking. It’s a cute and catchy phrase to encourage the public to read and, as a writer, I’m all for that. But, as a writer, I also know word choice can stir subconscious responses. “Getting caught” suggests you’re doing something forbidden or embarrassing. Why would anyone want to hide the fact that they’re reading?
Could it be because of what they’re reading? That led me to consider romance novels and their covers. Despite booming sales and the PR efforts of the Romance publishing industry, many members of the general public still think of romance novels as “those books”—silly and superficial at best and pornographic at worst. The “bodice ripper” covers of the ‘eighties and the naked male torsos common today don’t do much to alter those negative stereotypes.
But readers have a right to gorgeous, appealing book covers. They say so much about the tone and content of the story, whether lushly historical or darkly sexy. They convey important information about the setting and characters that helps readers choose which books to buy. Even though there are no people depicted, I love both my covers for the atmosphere they evoke.
I adore the beauty and variety of romance covers, but as tastes and times have changed, some covers have definitely gotten racier, particularly in erotic romance. Not every woman would be comfortable flashing those covers in the subway on the way to work. It might not even be safe.
Enter the e-reader.