When we look at a book, its cover tells us what to expect. A pink paperback featuring a smiling young woman is most likely a female-centric summer read, whereas a gun on a black background is probably a murder story. A few simple aesthetic rules narrow our options, make life easier and ensure none of us has to wander Waterstone’s for hours, wailing in confusion. And yet the rules seem to be changing. Having cottoned on to the fact that chick lit books sell like cupcakes, publishers are now adding chick lit-style covers to any book written by a woman whether it fits the genre definition or not… books aimed at women are becoming increasingly homogenised, girly and bland-looking.
The first comment on the post sums it up for me: “It’s very simple, really. If women refused to buy books with patronising covers, the publishers would soon change their tune.”
True. Publishers respond to what sells, and try to capture the sales of popular books by making theirs look similar. And why wouldn’t you? You’re a business, after all. If customers don’t buy them, they won’t do it again. Otherwise, is it such a bad thing for an author if more people read their books because the cover is a particular pastel shade which doesn’t sit well with you?
I find this interesting, because according to all reports on this side of the pond, “chick lit is dead.” The covers over here have typically been slightly cartoony, which has been the kiss of death for a lot of publications. I think this is category’s in a bit of flux…maybe nobody’s quite sure what to do with it…or what to call it now that all the chicks grew up. 🙂
Chick-lit tends to be quite broad in the UK. Essentially, if you can take a photo of a woman (or segement of body) and stick it on the cover, then that qualifies. It’s been shaping this way for years, to be honest, and the genre has boomed in general fiction. It’s not too many shades removed from the crappy magazines that fill our shelves, dammit, so the hedonistic, voyeuristic, wish-fulfillment novel is seeing its boom time…