This article stems from my response to the cover of the new Mercedes Thompson series book, NIGHT BROKEN by Pat Briggs. This cover features, as usual, an illustration of the series’ heroine, Mercy Thompson. Mercy has always been athletically sexy, and not flat-chested. But now she is sporting amazing breasts, much larger than the character’s previous physique.
Is a Book’s Cover Fair Game for Review?
A covers affects how I see and experience a book. This is especially true in the case of a series where the cover illustration represents the main character. The first question is whether it is fair to critique a book’s cover. One of my readers suggested it was not fair because the author often has little say in the cover. It is true that the main stream author rarely has a lot of say in the cover. She wrote “The author has no or not much say over the cover, so attacking the book based on that is very unfair.” I did not “attack” the book as I work to remain civil in my assessments regardless of my personal feelings. I understand what she was saying and the difference is that I criticized the cover and not the author. In addition, when you buy something, I contend you have the right to judge all aspects of it.
When a book cover is decided upon bloggers are asked to participate in cover reveals. This indicates the cover is an important element in the overall package that is a book. When a cover is pretty, or hits the mark, it gets oohs and ahs. The solicitation of attention means when when it is not pretty, or it fails to hit the target, the cover is also subject to criticism.
Humans are visual. We communicate with words and with pictures and pictures can carry a large amount of information
Now, when I look at a book, it may be prior to cover art being available and it doesn’t form part of my impression of the story. But when the cover is available, it becomes part of the book design, and I tend to evaluate the book in its entirety. A book is not just the story, it is the package.
I took an illustration course a while ago and learned about book design. That is everything non-verbal about the book: font, decorative elements at the beginning of each chapter, cover illustration, etc. We see many of these elements cross over into our e-books too.
When I review a book, I am reviewing the entire package. Writers, publishers, editors, designers, illustrators, cover artists, and probably more, all play a part in creating a book. And, asking us to notice cover design doesn’t just mean we praise it; no more than asking us to review a book does.
As a reader, and/or a blogger, reviewer or writer what do you think? Do cover illustrations affect how you feel about a book? Are they fair objects of review?
On Saturday, April 26, I am going to extend this conversation into why the illustration on the cover matters, and when it matters more!