Trends in YA Book Covers

Trends in YA Book Covers

Recently I stumbled across this article on Jillian Audrey’s blog on recent trends in YA covers and decided I wanted to share all of these with you.

I would post all the pictures of the current trends right here, but I want you guys to click on the links and look at the covers yourself just so I can spend this blog post explaining each one and either giving my approval or disapproval to several of these trends.

  • The Beheaded: I hate covers with beheaded characters. Why are they all beheaded? Is there some types of social commentary these covers are trying to make? They’re all beheaded women, too. Are these covers just trying to reduce women to just their parts, instead of showing the whole person behind the cover? This one bothers me because it reduces women to just their parts. I don’t know what the marketing department/cover designer is thinking of when they choose to behead the characters on the covers. What say you, Stars?
  • The Big Head: Yes, I know that When Stars Die falls into this trend. But, in my defense, my publisher and I originally wanted Amelia holding her little brother as the original cover, but that didn’t seem like it was able to be done, so we went the big head trend anyway. And you know what? I love my cover to bits, and many of the ‘big head’ covers in the trend’s list are beautiful anyway, such as Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. At least they’re showing the faces of these characters, too, and especially their eyes, which can convey a lot. I like my cover because it really puts Amelia out there, and you can see her innocence, which points to the fact that she isn’t a very worldly person.
  • Baby’s Got Back: This trend doesn’t bother me too much, but, again, it makes no sense. Sure, some of the covers are beautiful, but, admittedly, if you see enough of these, you begin to wonder why the marketing department/cover designers are choosing to take their models and show their backsides. Maybe these covers are trying to portray that these characters are going somewhere super important. I don’t really know.
  • The Mope: This trend doesn’t bother me at all because at least it’s showing the entire model and not just her parts, and at least ‘the mope’ is conveying the darkness of the book. Plus, some of these gorgeous covers just suck me in and make me want to read these books.
  • The Dead Girl: This one doesn’t bother me so much either because at least the characters are varied in how the cover designers chose to portray the deadness of the models. Plus, I read one of those books among the ‘dead girl’ trend, and I can tell you these types of books point to the overall theme of death, and that these ‘dead models’ point to the fact that death is going to be an enormous part of the book, that the main character is just going to be surrounded by it.
  • What Big Eyes You Have: This is another trend that I don’t like. While the eyes are pretty, they don’t really tell much about the story. I especially hate the big eye trend on opaque faces. It’s very tacky. There was this one middle grade book at the school where I do my observation that is called Escaping the Giant Wave, and this cover has a beautiful tidal wave, but there are freaking opaque eyes above it, and I think it’s stupid and cheesy and ruins the whole cover of the book. The eyes also look like they belong to a girl, and the main character is a boy. The cover would have been beautiful without the eyes, and those eyes serve absolutely serve no purpose at all–unless it’s trying to explain that the kid is going to have to escape this tsunami himself, with no adults present to help him. Otherwise, it’s a crap cover.
  • What Big Lips You Have: This is a trend I really hate, especially in YA covers. It’s oversexualizing the model, who is supposed to represent a teenager. Are there erotica books in the YA genre now, because those big lips definitely signify something pornographic going inside of the book.
  • What Big Hands You Have: This one doesn’t really bother me at all, especially the cover of Anna and the French Kiss. I mean, I suppose it’s arguably bothersome because it makes the book seem like it’s all about the hands, but, otherwise, I have no problem with this trend.
  • Kissy Face: Yeah…I don’t like this trend at all, but I’m probably being biased because I don’t like pure romance novels. Plus, some of these covers show the characters about to kiss, or they show the characters barely kissing. Too Nicholas Sparks for me.

So what are some other trends you’ve noticed in YA books lately?

2 thoughts on “Trends in YA Book Covers

  1. I find it bizarre the amount of YA book covers that need models. When I was younger this wasn’t the case and at most it was artwork if they did choose to depict a character on the front. I think it’s bad enough teens have to put up with airbrushed models all over the place, let alone on books.

    It also implies either 1. Young adults can’t use their imaginations or 2. The creators would rather they didn’t for “reasons”. (I can only assume marketing)

    Books like the hunger games which uses the clothes pin on the front cover, I feel, are far better. A model doesn’t have to be used in every instance, even death, but it seems it can’t be helped.

    1. It was a few years ago when I noticed, too, that more photography was being used for YA covers. To be honest, I find the photography a lot more attractive than what was previously being used for YA covers, which wasn’t very attractive at all–namely, drawings of the characters, which looked very cheesy. But, as I’m doing my research, characters have always been the trend for YA covers. It’s just been in recent years that everything transitioned from drawings to photography, not just because it seems to be more attractive but also because it’s probably cheaper to either A. Find a model and photographer, which probably costs less than someone to actually draw a cover, B. using stock imagery and manipulating it is a lot less expensive, and C. again, someone who does a cover entirely from scratch (the drawing and all that) will probably charge a heck of a lot more.

      But, yeah, I see where you’re getting at. I’m not sure what the obsession is with putting the character on the front of the cover. I guess it’s more of a lure for readers, because it draws them into the character immediately (with the assumption that the person on the cover is the protagonist, or at least a major character in the book). But then there’s also the problem of diversity on YA book covers. For instance, when Magic Under Glass released, there was a white character on the front, when the main character is clearly dark skinned–so whitewashing is a major problem. I noticed among cover artists who do pre-made art are doing a lot of cover art with white people on the cover, and sometimes I just want to scream, ‘Can we have some more diversity? White people aren’t the only people in existence!’ But I often just bite my tongue because I know cover artists get super defensive about what they do.

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