Cover Love: August Edition (and Giveaway!)

August 7, 2011 at 10:40 pm (General) (, , )

One of my favorite things to do during the lulls at work- especially if I’m at the cash register and all the calls have been made- is to play through the upcoming releases in the computer. I’ll get lulled in by a title or author, and I’ll read the description, but sometimes- even if I have absolutely no intention of reading the book- I get sucked in by the cover. So much time and thought and effort and attention goes into designing these covers, and their purpose is to get people intrigued enough to want to pull them off the shelf and take a closer look. Say whatever you want about don’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s be honest: the cover is the barker outside a faire show. If someone isn’t doing something to catch your attention, you’re not going to head that way unless that was your purposed destination.

So today I’ve gathered some of the interesting covers I’ve seen lately. Some of these will be out in the next three months or so, a couple won’t be out until next spring.

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter, due out March 2012.

I don’t think it’s been any secret that I adore the Gallagher Girls series. I rec them all the time at work, especially to girls whose parents are concerned about the level of violence/language/angst/smut of some of the other selections on the teen wall. I’m not saying the teen wall in inundated but I don’t think anyone would deny that there are certainly books that fit that bill. Especially for the younger teens and tweens who are just bridging onto the teen wall, the parents like to know there’s an employee who can steer them towards the books they (the parents) are most comfortable with. The GG books aren’t completely fluff, but they definitely start out light-hearted and ease the characters and readers into the heavier issues that come along with the pulse-pounding action of the later books. And I love the covers. We get basic descrptions of Cammie, so what we see of the girl of the covers fits that well enough, but I love that we don’t see her entire face. It’s not just that it lets us keep the image in our mind but that it also fits with her nature as the Chameleon. The titles are fantastically punny but also applicable (and an absolute bear to come up with, if you follow her Twitter feed), and the ransom note letters keep some of the light-heartededness out in the open. They’re unique, they fit well as a series, and it makes them easy to find and recognize on a shelf.

A Million Suns by Beth Revis, due out January 2012.

True science-fiction is fairly rare in teens, and this cover puts it out there immediately: THIS IS SPACE. The colors are soft, true, but it’s the blurred edges of a nebula cluster or Oort cloud, the shifting pinks and purples and lighter blues of birthing suns through gaseous fogs. We have two people standing close together but with a slight gap between them, and a strategically placed reflection that makes it difficult to determine for certain whether or not they’re holding hands. They’re standing in a bubble, looking out at the vast endlessness of space- but a bubble, no matter the material, will always appear as an inherently fragile object, so despite the wonder and the beauty of looking directly out into the uncharted expanses, there’s also a clear warning of danger. This cover takes everything intriguing and promising about the book and puts it out there to lure you in deeper. It also fits really, really well with its previous title. I know there are some people who couldn’t care less, but it really bothers me when the books of a series don’t look like they belong together in a series. It’s not just a personal thing, either- when the covers look like they’re all along the same theme, or at least the same style, customers can recognize them as belonging together. This does a fantastic job of being easily identifiable with its predecessor.

Fever, by Lauren DeStefano, due out Marchish 2012.

Wither has an amazing cover, one that- if you examine it very closely- actually tells a lot of the story. Its sequel does much the same. The cover is lighter- not just in content but in color- and the girl isn’t slumped down in her own misery surrounded by the cages, but rather looking upward, loose in the body and relaxed in stance. The things that surround her still tell an alluring story, but their symbolism is different. The carousel horse, the card, they bring you in to something entirely different than the previous book, but still along a cohesive story. The sharp lines and circle that cross and intersect are eye-catching but they’re also intriguing- there are sharp lines in Rhine’s world, but lines can be crossed. The cover makes you promises without giving you the immediate explanation.

So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev, out September 2011.

I love the covers for this series. They’re gorgeous and fun and this one reminds you right where the previous one left off: Bertie is somehow married to two guys, which is a problem that Must Be Fixed. You have the fairies in there (the fairies are my favorite characters, no lie), you have the hint of stage curtains, and frankly, I just think it’s gorgeous. It’s something that wouldn’t be out of place on a canvas on someone’s wall and that appeals to me. There’s not as much analysis in this one, I just love this cover.

After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel, out September 2011.

I’ll be honest, I know nothing about this book, because every time I almost get a chance to read the description, someone comes up and needs something, so now it’s gotten to the point where it’s a game for me to come up with theories. I’ve pretty much decided to wait until the book comes in so I can read the jacket and see how many of my theories, if any, are correct. It’s the little things. But this cover caught my attention immediately and continues to hold it. In some ways, it’s a very simple cover. The fanciest thing about it is the font, which stands out not just for its ornate and intertwined aspects, but for the fact that it’s the only true color on the cover. It’s a dusky robin’s egg blue, which stands out sharply against the greys, black, brown, and white of the rest of the cover. The title sends chills down your spine- there are a number of things that can come after obsession, but none of them seem particularly comforting- and the girl floating perfectly horizontal? Clearly something paranormal going on, but the possibilities are endless. I love the way the black shreds and spatters at the edges of the dress, like it’s shadows and ink rather than fabric. It’s a tiny detail, but it’s intriguing. I have no idea what this story is about, but when I see the image on the shelf, I’m definitely pulling it down to take a closer look.

Last for this week, but certainly not least, Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, out October 2011.

Lauren Oliver’s Middle Grade debut first presents like an old, beloved, and slightly dangerous book, with elaborate scrollwork along the edges and the appearance of a clasp/lock in the middle of the right edge, like the several-centuries old illuminated leatherbounds. In the center, surrounded bya tangle vine of ominous or curious figures, a little girl stands with a strange little creature, almost like a dog, on her shoulder, both of them with a corona of ethereal light as they stare down at a glowing book in the girl’s hands. Right off the bat I’m thinking ghost story and fairy tale rolled into one, along with a thread of danger, but one of the figures in the tangle vine has a kind smile, so I’m relieved that there’ll be some goodness in people, and the boy looks cautious, which makes me worry for him, but the other three adult figures, the ones that surmount the knots, are all threatening in their own way, which tells me there’ll be intrigue and adventure and danger. I haven’t even opened it yet but I’m already hooked.

Want to be hooked on Liesl and Po? I’ve got an extra ARC, and I’m going to give it away to one of you lovely people! For my birthday, one of you gets a present, so you have through Saturday August 27th to leave a comment below. Tell me about a cover that’s really captivated you recently, preferably one that hasn’t come out yet, and what it told you about the book. It doesn’t matter if your theories are proved true or not, just tell me what the cover made you think about the book. Then, on Sunday the 28th, random.org will assist me in choosing a winner and I’ll make a special trip to the post office on my birthday (see how much I love you?) to mail it out! So, leave a comment and spread the word!

Until next time~
Cheers!

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Don’t Judge A Book By…

April 16, 2011 at 10:20 am (General, Industry) (, , , , , , )

Stay tuned below for giveaway information!

We all know what comes next, right?

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Except, we do. All the time.

Almost always, the cover is either the first or second thing we see. We may see the title first, if the book is spined out on the shelf, but if it’s faced out it’s the cover that first has the chance to catch our eye. That’s what’s going to bring us over to the shelf, that’s what’s going to make us pick up the book and investigate further. It isn’t the cover that makes us buy the book- the writing and the promise of the story is what does that- but the cover is the bait.

And because the cover is our first impression of the book, we make certain judgments based on that.

We decide what ‘type’ of book it is, what the story is likely to encompass, who the target audience is, even what the tone of the book is going to be. The cover can make or break a book as far as getting it into people’s hands are concerned- and publishers are very aware of this. The covers are designed to make very specific impressions; let’s take a look, shall we?

Right off the bat, there are certain things you know about this book. The background of a galaxy tells you right away that this is sci-fi; deep space, given the darker colors, which already gives us a sense of isolation and tension despite the beauty. The positions of the faces give us drama- we know there’s going to be romance, but we also know that things are going to be complicated by coming from very different perspectives. We also know there’s a mystery here- from right to left (opposite the way most people scan the page), as the background passes through the gap between the two figures, the image changes from a galaxy of stars through some bright source and into something that looks more like water, which makes us wonder what else we’re going to find out in space. It also tells us that the target audience is female- boys may not be terrified to be seen with it, but the predominance of pinks and purples, along with the near kiss of the figures, means this is going to appeal much more to females than males. (Across the Universe, by Beth Revis)

Compare that to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It’s striking (eye-catching) in its simplicity, stark contrasts, basic colors, a memorable design. It’s a strong image, a little military with the font and the clean lines, and then the bird with the arrow. We know right away that there’s going to be violence in this book; we know it’s going to be dark, we know the threats are going to come from multiple angles, and we know that arrow is going to be very, very important. Yes, the bird is as well, but even the way the bird is shaped draws the eye to the arrow. This is a cover that’s going to appeal to males and females alike. Just from the cover, we know better than to expect anything approaching light and fluffy.

We also see this in Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron. The dark colors draw us in, especially given the contrast with the prismatic blues and silvers. Our eyes like the shiny in conservative doses, especially because the prisms make it seem false.. The skeletal leaves speak to ill health, the rusting machine components speak to decay, and the portions of number- like computer code- fascinate us. What do they mean? Are they counting down? Counting up? Listing things off? Up near the top we see the blending become more intertwined, but the page is dominated by the key. Keys are, by themselves, fascinating things, because if there is a key, there must be a lock, and if there’s a lock, there’s an obstacle. Instant promise. The fact that this key is so ornate just draws us in deeper. The deep, cool colors make it gender neutral, so anyone who likes that bit of darkness, that edge, to their books is going to be drawn to this one.

Then there are covers like that of Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade– this is very much aiming at a female audience. It isn’t just that there’s a girl on the cover (though that’s certainly a piece of it). Ignoring the tag line for the moment, we see blood dripping from the T of the title, see splashes of color in the throats of the lilies that could also be blood. The girl’s make up, the shimmering sheen of the cover, the pinks and lavenders, all indicate that this is geared towards girls. The flowers and the make up indicate that there’ll be romance, even as the hard gold of her eyes lets us know that this isn’t going to be a typical high school drama at the lockers affair. Those eyes aren’t human, and the way they’re shaded at the edges, to draw that gold into greater relief against a cover with a mostly silver cast to it, we know there’s going to be violence- you don’t have colors hit each other that hard for a soft novel. We know, as soon as we look at this cover, that the main character isn’t human, she isn’t soft, and that there will be both blood and romance. (Note: the cover is being redone for the paperback issue; this is the original hardcover image)

Boys are harder to attract, on so many levels. It’s hard to get them in the bookstores in the first place, because we as a culture have this strange obsession against boys reading- that they have “better things to do”. Boys are much more self-conscious than girls about being seen with books, and many are worried that they’ll be made fun of. Covers with lots of soft colors or with glammed up girls across the front are unlikely to find their way into boys’ hands even if the story itself is designed to appeal to both genders.

So for this, publishers rely on things like Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. It’s a bold cover, strong colors, red and steel blue-greys and dull bronze. We know right away that this is steampunk, which is something boys can really sink their teeth into because it’s machines and grease and shop class on a grand scale. (No, I’m not saying girls can’t sink their teeth into steampunk, but we’re talking about boys for the moment.) The wings give us flight, but there’s something almost skeletal about them, unfinished- there are obstacles and threats visible even from the cover. Boys are less likely than girls to pick up books with portraits on the cover, but on other issuues of the cover, at least it’s a boy (and he isn’t so pretty that a boy will a: make fun of it, or b: feel uncomfortable with it). This is something a boy feels safe picking up and being seen reading.

So, AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION TIME: what cover has jumped out at you recently? What about it made you take that closer look?

Leave me an answer before midnight EST on April 23rd, and you can win a copy (might be ARC, might be finished) of one of my favorite covers so far this year: Veronica Roth’s riveting debut Divergent. (US only, sorry- postage is expensive). But seriously, isn’t that cover amazing? And all you have to do to win this amazing book is:

1. Follow this blog: lots of book reviews, meditations on writing and the book industry, and lots and lots of pretty covers.

2. Tell me about a cover that has captivated you recently, and what about it caught your attention. What did you like about it? Why did it work? Make sure you include a name and an email in the comment so I can contact the winner.

That’s it, folks, and that amazing book can be yours!

Update 4.24: And, thanks to random.org, we have a randomly generated winner from the comments! Thank you so much to everyone who participated, and keep an eye out for more giveaways in the future. Congratulations, Danah! You’ve won the ARC of Divergent, and will be shortly getting an email from me to arrange details.

Until next time~
Cheers!

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