Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Covers and Boy Appeal

I am totally teeing this one up for Libby, who has written about boy books and girl books here and here.
The author of Jacket Whys writes the following about John Green's Paper Towns in her post entitled Margo vs. Quentin.
What boy is going to pick up this book based on the cover? Don’t get me wrong - I don’t dislike the cover (though my vision of Margo does not gel with the photo here, and I’m glad I got the blue one when I ordered from Amazon). But we all know the line. Girls will read books with boys on the cover - but boys will steer clear of books with covergirls. True for teenage boys? I think so.
A cover is a powerful thing. I hate to say that I judge a book by it's cover, but alas, I do. It's what attracts me to a book once I am intrigued by a title. What makes a good cover/book jacket anyway? Check out the very interesting responses to this very question at The Longstockings. (Scroll down the page for the posts.)

Do young people judge books in the same way? Do you think boys will be dissuaded from toting Paper Towns around simply because it has a girl on the cover? Let's chat, as I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.


  1. I definitely think that young adults judge books by their covers. There would have to have been a lot of booktalking for them to pick up something that looked a.) too girly, b.) too boyish, c.) weird d.) mystical or religious, e.) etc. etc. ad infinitum. Book covers are SO TOUGH, and the more neutral they are, to me, the better. Yet, because girls are touted to be the Big Readers, it seems like publishers direct EVERYTHING at them... and authors have no control.

    I mean, maybe if you've got six bestselling novels out and a Printz or two under your belt, you get a say. But otherwise... nada.

  2. If you look at Looking for Alaska or Abundance of Katherines, those were more abstract and these are too focused on the girl. Maybe they should have done a "boy" and "girl" version instead? There were many more girls than boys at the john Green event I attended but there were enough boys not to lose all hope. But yeah, even I wouldn't buy that yellow one.

  3. I ALWAYS judge a book by it's cover. And I can't believe that some publishers let certain covers actually get published, they are so awful. Haven't read this book yet, but everybody is raving about it.

  4. I do think we judge books by their covers, and I agree that the covers for both Katherines and Alaska were more unisex--but intriguing. I also think it's true that there are more girls than boys reading Green's works, for whatever reason. (I only *wish* I'd known boys who would have liked to read those books when I was in high school.)

    That said, I still can imagine some boys picking up that intriguing and slightly scary blue cover. I dunno.

  5. For me, a cover can make/break my attitude toward a book. As a reviewer, I'll plunge ahead, and sometimes I love the book despite the cover. Even knowing that, the image determines my first impression. I can think of only a few titles this year of books with covers that would catch a boy's attention. Dodger and Me for fiction and The Day the Earth Exploded for nonfiction.

  6. We all judge a book by the cover. Well, don't we? Recently our librarian told me the cover to One Small Step by P.B. Kerr was ugly, and no one will pick it. Two days later the boys picked it as the next book for or book club.

    P.S. I enjoy this blog.

  7. Oh...I think teacherninja is onto something. Boy cover and girl cover. Brilliant! Any book that bridges genders should be printed with two covers. Has this ever been done? Does anyone know?

  8. Don't you think that an interesting cover will transcend gender? The cover on Paper Towns simply is not graphically enticing. Picture books get great covers, middle grade fiction does often, why does YA all too frequently get short graphic shrift?
    Janet from PaperTigers