Saturday, May 5, 2012

Undercover Covers by Alison Henderson

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.

I travel frequently for both business and pleasure and spend many hours reading in public in airports and on planes. I have to admit that while the cover might have drawn me to a book in the first place, there are times I enjoy the privacy my e-reader gives me. What about you? Do you display your romance book covers in public with pride, or do you appreciate the ability to read anything you want on your e-reader with no one the wiser?

Alison Henderson


Vonnie Davis said...

I, too, love my eReader. I didn't think I would, but as with so many things, once you try them, you enjoy the experiences. I was never ashamed to flash the covers to books I read. I suppose I was always "into" the enjoyment of the story too much. But I will say one of the first things I list on my bookcover information sheet for TWRP is "no naked men." I mean, it's so overdone, it's comical. Walk through the romance section of any bookstore and look at all the buff, air-brushed naked male torsos (or is it torsoes?). I prefer something more distinctive, something that portrays the stroy inside. I love your bookscovers, by the way. Simply beautiful.

Jannine Gallant said...

I've noticed a change in the reaction of people when you read in public. Used to be (when you had a print book in your hands) they'd ask, "Oh, what are you reading?" With an e-reader clutched in your fist, they say, "Oh, you have one of those e-readers. Do you like it?" Of course I live in the boonies, so maybe the reaction in a city is more sophisticated. LOL Still, the focus goes away from the book to the reading device.

As for covers, I've had scenic ones up until my latest. I didn't ask for a hunky guy, but I got one anyway. Most people say they love the cover. I'm waiting anxiously to see if that hunky guy sells more books! If he does, I may have to reconsider future book covers! LOL

Sorry to write a novel, but great post, Alison.

Jerri Hines said...

Live off my ereader. Wouldn't know what to do without it. I still love print books, but when you're on the go it's just easier.

Alison H. said...

Thanks for your comments, ladies. I actually enjoy some of the hunky male covers, but Vonnie, I agree with you that they've become so ubiquitous they've lost their punch.