This post is dedicated to book covers past…
Yesterday, as I was pondering the majestic world that is Pin, I realized how much I miss the days when books had that special “secret picture” behind the front cover. Pin had one, although the most memorable such covers came from the V.C. Andrews series:
Book covers are such a big deal these days. I read blogs with people analyzing every little detail and nuance of the artwork. Which is pretty cool, on an aesthetic level, but I ask…where’s the pragmatism???
You see, back in the olden days, when a pocket paperback came with a secret picture cover, (or big puffy letters or just a strange cheesy picture or a grammatical error in the title)…you knew what you were getting. The cover set up an expectation.
A secret picture cover said: “I may have been purchased in the supermarket.” “I am meant to be enjoyed and not analyzed.” “I can be read in the bathtub and if you drop me, that’s okay.”
Certain other books shapes and artsy covers denoted a literary interior.
Those gritty and dramatic covers told other messages. They said: “I will make you look smart.” “I can be read at the café.” “I can be listed as a ‘favorite book’ on your Facebook profile without fear of ridicule.”
But now? The line between commercial and literary covers has been blurred. This seems especially true in the teen horror genre, which is one of my favorites. But I read all kinds of books and now when I go to my bookshelf, I am confused. Is that Haruki Murakami or is it Stephenie Meyer? There is no visual cue. Just these gorgeous evocative pictures and designs that scream read me, me, me, me, me!
But shhh, I’ll tell you a secret. My biggest complaint regarding the dearth of secret picture cover books is this:
I can no longer judge other people by the covers of the books they read.
Yup, that’s right. A great piece of social data has vanished. Poof!
Ah, secret picture cover, I miss you. Gone, but not forgotten…