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Beyond Romance Covers
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, I'm honestly asking what isn't already out there?[/quote]


Only the "half-naked people" covers...that's all. I'm fine with the others. And if you couldn't find the skin...horray. Maybe they are coming around without my help. Very Happy My work here is done! Victory!
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1463
Location: America

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:
You do realize that most of what you're talking about is considered in some way "romance" fiction, don't you? So, whether or not they realize it, they're already reading romances.

No, hear me out because I've been there. Unless the publishers of those genres can keep up with the demand, eventually, the mentioned readers are going to run out of books to read. And then they are going to look around for their new fix.

Now, they may be high minded enough to turn up their noses completely against anything labeled romance. It's a possibility. Or . . . they may be a true reader at heart who needs something, anything to read resembling what they want.

Tap, tap, tap.

What's the biggest genre with the most variety touching on the topic that falls within all those mentioned above, i.e. romantic love?

They may only nibble at first. They may squawk and complain that it's not exactly the same. They may pick and choose. But sheer numbers do count for something, you know.

And that's not arrogance. That's knowledge of the size and variety available that most people don't even realize is in the romance genre. There are people who start reading romance before they even realize it every day and you're talking about young people who are already hooked on something similar. It's just a hop, skip and a jump to the "real" thing and off they go.

Edited to add: Unless of course, what is really being suggested is that the young readers being talked about are really turned off by the content of romance novels and not the covers. 'Cause that's a different discussion altogether.


You do have a point, but if this debate is about covers, what would induce a teenage non-romance reader to wander into the romance section of a bookstore when the genre is seen as ridiculous? If that teen's parents sneer at romance, what do you think the situation would be if they brought home a romance novel (especially one with a clinch cover)? If not that, at least the parents' knowledge of the sexual content. Why even toe that line when (as I said) the YA section is booming with novels of all different varieties, feature kids "just like them" and aren't plagued with cheesy covers? And if people in general are reading less--and when they do, onlyblockbusters with tons of media hype--what is the incentive in delving into a genre the general populace derides?

bbmedos wrote:

And again I ask, change them to what?

It's a serious question considering I was just at the grocery store and gave a quick glance over the current selection of romances on the shelves. There was everything from cartoons to flowers to hearts to castles to doodles to moody paranormal creatires to finally some skin. But, you know what? It actually took me a few moments to find the skin. And it was a small display.

So, I'm honestly asking what isn't already out there?


I believe YA historicals have gorgeous covers, as do historical fiction.

When you compare this cover:



to this cover:



It doesn't show that Victoria Alexander's book is about the romantic relationship between the h/h ending with a satisfying HEA--it only implies sex.

Despite the bone I pick with the romance genre regarding race and ethnicity, overall the genre is full of intelligent, elegant, romantic and passionate reads. The covers do not convey this. Many readers even said they wouldn't have purchased Joanna Bourne's debut novel if they hadn't heard such great buzz about it because of the mantitty cover. Even though on one hand, this can play into the issue of historical shame over female sexuality, how fair is it to romance readers and writers to continue to characterize the genre with sex and/or covers that look like Chippendales calenders?
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a beautiful cover on the YA novel. And I was going to mention The Spymasters Lady through all of this, but haven't read it yet. Even so, I have heard pretty great things about the book and think it unfortunate that the cover is so very cheesy.

edited to add...Was going to mention Linda Howard's new book too. I do like the cover on Death Angel. Here is a couple on the cover, but in a very artful manner. At least in my opinion it is.
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1463
Location: America

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

xina wrote:
What a beautiful cover on the YA novel. And I was going to mention The Spymasters Lady through all of this, but haven't read it yet. Even so, I have heard pretty great things about the book and think it unfortunate that the cover is so very cheesy.

edited to add...Was going to mention Linda Howard's new book too. I do like the cover on Death Angel. Here is a couple on the cover, but in a very artful manner. At least in my opinion it is.


Oh yeah, I really love the cover for Death Angel.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:
NoirFemme wrote:
I could care less about the image of romance to outsiders, but I do know readership is limited because of the covers. Who is going to be the next generation of romance readers? Teenagers and 20somethings today did not grow up during the "romance revolution" of the 80s and early 90s--they only know of the derision with which its treated by the general populace. My friends turn their noses up at romances, yet gobble up Danielle Steel's bland, uninspired prose like candy. My age group and below also don't need the romance genre--the YA genre is booming full of romances that aren't hampered by clinch covers and mantitty--, if they want paranormal, paranormal romance and urban fantasy books can slide easily into the sf/f section, and its pretty easy to skip over the romance genre entirely to get to chick-lit or those contemporary romance authors pushed into the mainstream. My argument about the evolution of romance covers is concerned with the next generation of romance readers.


You do realize that most of what you're talking about is considered in some way "romance" fiction, don't you? So, whether or not they realize it, they're already reading romances.


I agree, but I think that some recognition of the fact is in order--and it's not about the respect issue.

I remember discovering Madeleine L'Engle for the first time as a twelve year old and wanting more books like A Swiftly Tilting Planet. At that time, I had no idea that those books were part of the SF/F genre. Most of the SF/F books I saw had either "outer space" covers or "semi-medieval alternate universe" covers. In other words, they seemed to be set either in a galaxy far, far away or in a spin-off of Middle-earth: neither of which was what I was looking for. Yet the sad part is that the content of the books was probably closer to L'Engle than the covers made them seem.

bbmedos wrote:
And that's not arrogance. That's knowledge of the size and variety available that most people don't even realize is in the romance genre. There are people who start reading romance before they even realize it every day and you're talking about young people who are already hooked on something similar. It's just a hop, skip and a jump to the "real" thing and off they go.


Agreed! It's not arrogance. It's reality.

NoirFemme wrote:
You do have a point, but if this debate is about covers, what would induce a teenage non-romance reader to wander into the romance section of a bookstore when the genre is seen as ridiculous?


I think that is where blurbs come in. Wink I can easily think of 500 young girls (in the school I used to teach in) who would read a book which had an endorsement from Stephanie Meyer on the cover.

The black and red on the Victoria Alexander book featured above would also remind Meyer's fans of the design of the Twilight series. Win-win, aye? (Then again, I'm counting my chickens before they read! Laughing )

Maybe Cecily von Ziegesar also has some influence, though she's not famous for HEAs and her characters seen chronically TSTL.

I'm still fantasising over a Joss Whedon blurb on a Kresley Cole novel.

NoirFemme wrote:
Why even toe that line when (as I said) the YA section is booming with novels of all different varieties, feature kids "just like them" and aren't plagued with cheesy covers?


Well, one wants to stretch outside of YA eventually. I know I did. Anyway, given many adult issues in Romance (and I don't just mean sex scenes), they're best enjoyed by more "seasoned" readers than young people still very content with YA.

NoirFemme wrote:
And if people in general are reading less--and when they do, onlyblockbusters with tons of media hype--what is the incentive in delving into a genre the general populace derides?


Well, there's no substitute for the Romance "fix"! Wink

I think that people will read or watch what they want to, regardless of public perception. I have Chick Flicks in mind. This genre generally doesn't get much respect, but a good Chick Flick can gross millions of dollars. That's because, despite silly titles, virtually interchangeable posters, stock characters, premises we've heard before, and plots we can predict down to the last detail, the fact remains that millions of viewers love Chick Flicks and don't care what the rest of the world thinks.

Also, despite public perception, some Chick Flicks are actually quite good. They'd just get more respect if they weren't marketed as Chick Flicks.
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"To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance." (G.K. Chesterton)


Last edited by Schola on Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:20 pm; edited 2 times in total
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember discovering Madeleine L'Engle for the first time as a twelve year old and wanting more books like A Swiftly Tilting Planet. At that time, I had no idea that those books were part of the SF/F genre. Most of the SF/F books I saw had either "outer space" covers or "semi-medieval alternate universe" covers. In other words, they seemed to be set either in a galaxy far, far away or in a spin-off of Middle-earth: neither of which was what I was looking for. Yet the sad part is that the content of the books was probably closer to L'Engle than the covers made them seem.

******************************************************
Yes, but L'Engle covers were gorgeous, not tacky or cheesy. Both of my children loved all of the books in the series and neither stuck to the SF/F books much at all. These covers were well thought out though...obviously. I think many covers today aren't.













Well, one wants to stretch outside of YA eventually. I know I did. Anyway, given many adult issues in Romance (and I don't just mean sex scenes), they're best enjoyed by more "seasoned" readers than young people still very content with YA.

********************************************************
Seems like many adult readers like YA novels today. As for young people reading romance...my daughter and her friends are 19 and 20, and none of them read romance and never have as far as I know. Chick lit...yes. Jodi Picoutl and the like...yes, but none of the romance authors mentioned here. I don't know why the genre doesn't tempt them, but it really doesn't at all.




Also, despite public perception, some Chick Flicks are actually quite good. They'd just get more respect if they weren't marketed as Chick Flicks.[/quote]

***************************************************
Well, I think Chick Flicks are just plain fun. It's a quick way to get in some romance, laughs and enjoy yourself. It's all pure fun. I think many see it as just that...females, anyway.
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bbmedos



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
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Location: Western Kentucky, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It doesn't show that Victoria Alexander's book is about the romantic relationship between the h/h ending with a satisfying HEA--it only implies sex.


To be honest, I have no idea what the first cover impliesl. So, tell me, why is that any better from a sales standpoint? In fact, I would have to ask why sex doesn't just as easily come to mind from it? She definitly has a come hither look in her eyes to me.

See, that's what I don't get. Romance gets picked on add naseum for what its covers "suggest" even by people who appear to read it but frankly at least most romance covers suggest something that readers can clearly recognize while covers like that first one only seem to muddy the waters by suggesting so many things they're impossible to figure out.
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be honest, I have no idea what the first cover impliesl. So, tell me, why is that any better from a sales standpoint? In fact, I would have to ask why sex doesn't just as easily come to mind from it? She definitly has a come hither look in her eyes to me.



Well, she's young and beautiful, so I don't know if I'd say her look was come hither, but just very attractive. Hey, she probably can't help looking that way.....poor girl. Anyway, the only covers that really bother me are the men missing shirts and the women with their dresses coming off. Aside from that the Victoria Alexander isn't bad, but so typical of a historical romance novel showing very modern details. The little black lace thing looks like something a person could find in Victoria's Secret store and the manicure looks very modern too. The covers with the pink lipstick and modern heels and dresses are beyond hope.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xina wrote:
L'Engle covers were gorgeous, not tacky or cheesy. Both of my children loved all of the books in the series and neither stuck to the SF/F books much at all. These covers were well thought out though...obviously. I think many covers today aren't.


To be fair, my first L'Engle books had the lurid 70s/80s covers. Dell had great covers for "realistic" YA like Scott O'Dell's Historical fiction and even L'Engle's own "Chronos" series, but dropped the ball when it came to SF/F like A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door. The original covers looked like tacky pulp fiction.

xina wrote:
As for young people reading romance...my daughter and her friends are 19 and 20, and none of them read romance and never have as far as I know. Chick lit...yes. Jodi Picoutl and the like...yes, but none of the romance authors mentioned here. I don't know why the genre doesn't tempt them, but it really doesn't at all.


Interesting! Would you mind asking them about it? With a Romance reader for a mother, it can't be because of misconceptions about the genre. It's true that Romance just isn't some people's "thing," but I've always wondered why. Is it because it's not "realistic" enough for them? I really don't know . . .

bbmedos wrote:
Quote:
It doesn't show that Victoria Alexander's book is about the romantic relationship between the h/h ending with a satisfying HEA--it only implies sex.


To be honest, I have no idea what the first cover impliesl. So, tell me, why is that any better from a sales standpoint? In fact, I would have to ask why sex doesn't just as easily come to mind from it? She definitly has a come hither look in her eyes to me.


I didn't think of sex at all! I was thinking, "Gossip Girl meets Wallpaper Historical"! Laughing

Nor did the Victoria Alexander cover suggest sex to me. I was thinking of a Cloak-and-Dagger adventure or maybe something like The Scarlet Pimpernel. One can imagine a dagger secretly carried in that garter, aye? However, the words on the cover--the title and her name--scream: "This is a Romance!" Not necessarily sex, of course, bbmedos . . .
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting! Would you mind asking them about it? With a Romance reader for a mother, it can't be because of misconceptions about the genre. It's true that Romance just isn't some people's "thing," but I've always wondered why. Is it because it's not "realistic" enough for them? I really don't know . . .




I'll ask them, but I think I know the answer. I don't think they would identify with the characters in most historical romance novels...of course there are exceptions but I take it that they don't have a high opinion of them. I don't flaunt my books around the house either especially if the covers are really silly. (back to the cover thing) Now that they are older and in college, I don't see their reading material as often as I used to. The last books I saw them was the latest Harry Potter, The Kite Runner, The Pact (Picoult) My Sister's Keeper (Picoult) Atonement and the latest Sophie Kinsella..Do You Remember Me. I just recently borrowed all the Odd books by Koontz out and The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares. Not a straight romance in the bunch...but a few with a romanctic thread, so they are still chasing romance. Sort of with a whole bunch of ansgt thrown in!
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bbmedos



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
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Location: Western Kentucky, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xina wrote:
I'll ask them, but I think I know the answer. I don't think they would identify with the characters in most historical romance novels...of course there are exceptions but I take it that they don't have a high opinion of them.


Good thing historical romances aren't the only thing in the genre then, isn't it? Wink

'Cause I wouldn't have much to read myself then either.
I will say this, I would have no idea what to recommend for anyone who truly likes to read Danielle Steele . . . Rolling Eyes
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:
I will say this, I would have no idea what to recommend for anyone who truly likes to read Danielle Steele . . . Rolling Eyes

How about Nicholas Sparks? Laughing
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:
To be honest, I have no idea what the first cover impliesl. So, tell me, why is that any better from a sales standpoint? In fact, I would have to ask why sex doesn't just as easily come to mind from it? She definitly has a come hither look in her eyes to me.

See, that's what I don't get. Romance gets picked on add naseum for what its covers "suggest" even by people who appear to read it but frankly at least most romance covers suggest something that readers can clearly recognize while covers like that first one only seem to muddy the waters by suggesting so many things they're impossible to figure out.


I pulled two historical covers--one a YA and one a romance--to contrast.

In fact, the covers for most YA historicals are elegant and sumptuous. Why do we need, or require a clinch cover to tell the reader "this is a romance!"? Romance readers read widely, so implying that we need clinches or mantitty to help us determine what's what (especially when the book is in the romance section) makes us seem rather ignorant. With more and more people shopping online or hearing buzz online, reader interest is peaked by the blurb and the excerpt. Without a good book, the cover is nothing. Why isn't the emphasis allowed to be less on marking romance by its covers, and more on its content?

Edited to add: has anyone seen the UK covers for Eloisa James' Desperate Duchesses series? You have to be a member to see them, but they sum up my thoughts on the cover for romances perfect.
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Yuri



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 289

PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NoirFemme wrote:
bbmedos wrote:
To be honest, I have no idea what the first cover impliesl. So, tell me, why is that any better from a sales standpoint? In fact, I would have to ask why sex doesn't just as easily come to mind from it? She definitly has a come hither look in her eyes to me.

See, that's what I don't get. Romance gets picked on add naseum for what its covers "suggest" even by people who appear to read it but frankly at least most romance covers suggest something that readers can clearly recognize while covers like that first one only seem to muddy the waters by suggesting so many things they're impossible to figure out.


I pulled two historical covers--one a YA and one a romance--to contrast.

In fact, the covers for most YA historicals are elegant and sumptuous. Why do we need, or require a clinch cover to tell the reader "this is a romance!"? Romance readers read widely, so implying that we need clinches or mantitty to help us determine what's what (especially when the book is in the romance section) makes us seem rather ignorant. With more and more people shopping online or hearing buzz online, reader interest is peaked by the blurb and the excerpt. Without a good book, the cover is nothing. Why isn't the emphasis allowed to be less on marking romance by its covers, and more on its content?



The first thing I thought of when I read this was the annual cover contest where this year the second place getter for the series nominations is a half naked man, and a lot of the comments are exactly that we the readers like hunks. Six of the two-image nominations feature half-naked couples, although admittedly these were mostly on the inside cover, and the winner in that category had a semi-naked man on the back cover. Of the other winning covers I wouldn’t find them readily identifiable as romances (in fact two of them aren’t romances although they are romantic). That said six of the worst cover nominations featured half-naked models, but it was more how they were done rather than the subject matter.

Personally I think the marketers know what they are doing (mostly) and clinches and semi-naked bodies work. What's more why should we be ashamed of nudity? I don't get it. And why do we care what other people think when there are so many of us? And why do we want people to be introduced to romance? I don't want to read lit fic, they don't want to read romance - it just means we are different people.

I think the point is that different people will be attracted to different covers and that's fine. Personally I prefer The Spymaster's Lady to Death Angel with its vivid red coloration and the pose that makes me wonder why her back isn't killing her. Mind you I don't like the Spymaster's Lady much either, I much prefer last year's Spell of the Highlander Smile
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yuri wrote:
The first thing I thought of when I read this was the annual cover contest where this year the second place getter for the series nominations is a half naked man, and a lot of the comments are exactly that we the readers like hunks. Six of the two-image nominations feature half-naked couples, although admittedly these were mostly on the inside cover, and the winner in that category had a semi-naked man on the back cover. Of the other winning covers I wouldn’t find them readily identifiable as romances (in fact two of them aren’t romances although they are romantic). That said six of the worst cover nominations featured half-naked models, but it was more how they were done rather than the subject matter.

Personally I think the marketers know what they are doing (mostly) and clinches and semi-naked bodies work. What's more why should we be ashamed of nudity? I don't get it. And why do we care what other people think when there are so many of us? And why do we want people to be introduced to romance? I don't want to read lit fic, they don't want to read romance - it just means we are different people.

I think the point is that different people will be attracted to different covers and that's fine. Personally I prefer The Spymaster's Lady to Death Angel with its vivid red coloration and the pose that makes me wonder why her back isn't killing her. Mind you I don't like the Spymaster's Lady much either, I much prefer last year's Spell of the Highlander Smile


My position in the debate isn't that of someone who cares about the image of the genre to outsiders. My stance concerns the future of the genre. tbh, I'd like to see concrete numbers of the number of people buying romance, not the 50-something % of the market, since the average romance reader buys at least 3-5 books a trip skewing the numbers. Besides, if the issue of "converting" readers to romance has no place in the discussion, not only would conversations about introducing friends and family to genre disappear, but there wouldn't be any curiosity over xina's children ignoring the genre.
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