The last time I did a post like this, I’d talked about my overall growing dislike of the illustrated cover trend and I can confirm that I still stand by that statement. However, recently there’s been another cover trend that’s starting to bother me and while I dislike it for seemingly different reasons than the illustrated covers, I still dislike it nonetheless.
Much like the illustrated covers we’re seeing all over romance books, as well as select YA contemporaries, this latest trend of artistically painted faces and full bodies on YA covers appears to be something that just won’t go away. No matter how much I beg publishers to be more original.
I know what you’re thinking: how can you hate these covers when they’re so beautiful? And clearly so much effort went into the art? Well, the answer is very simple: they all look exactly the same.
I know it’s hard to believe, but these are in fact different books. And is that the purpose of this latest trend? To have similar, if not the same, type of art on book covers, right down to the minute details, to confuse readers into buying a different book than they intended? Or the same philosophy as the illustrated covers where the more covers that look the same, the better they sell.
It’s not a secret that publishers aren’t overly creative with their choices and are the first to jump on a current trend and exploit it until they’ve literally squeezed the very last cent out of it. They don’t choose covers because it fits the book; they choose them because they sell. But I personally feel like this trend, like many before it, is getting to the point where I’m deterred rather than enticed to pick up any book with a cover much like these due to the utter lack of originality.
I won’t argue that these YA covers aren’t relatively different and refreshing than those I’ve encountered in the past, but regardless of how great the art is it feels like they all follow the same structural set up and offer very little variety when it comes to spotting the differences. Sure, hair and skin tones are slightly changed but look at the eyes; look at the bone structure; look at the builds of the bodies. It’s all the same. There isn’t too much about these covers that really make them different from one another if you strip away the titles. And that’s what bothers me.
I cannot deny that the cover artist for all of these covers, Charlie Bowater, is incredibly talented and should absolutely be praised for her art. But I also can’t help but think that she’s wholly aware that this one, single formula is what works and is almost afraid to stray from it. And if publishers keep turning to her for their cover art then a) this is all we’re going to see and b) there will be less work for equally talented artists. I can’t blame Bowater for thriving as an artist but I can blame publishers for constantly choosing her art because it’s “the trend that’s selling right now.”
There’s nothing wrong with loving these types of covers and being excited about the art but I’m personally so incredibly over it to the point that it wouldn’t even matter how good the story is, I can’t make myself pick up books with this quasi-identical cover art. We’re moving into such intense overkill with this trend and I’m afraid it’ll get worse before it gets better. Either publishers need to find different artists to do the job or the artist needs to branch out of the replicating art style.
Because these are the same. They’re all the same. And I’m tired.
Once again, you love to hate to see it.