Monday, August 24, 2015

Changing the Romance Cover

For years, romance novels have had a bad reputation. This isn't helped by the fact that some of the covers look like this:


But in recent years, this has started to turn around. It was helped by the brief (but impactful) popularity of chick lit. Chick lit covers looked like this:



And this:


Although chick lit is (mostly) gone, its legacy lives on in some of the romance covers you see today. Like this:


And this bestseller:


But mostly romance covers still fit in the "bodice ripper" category. It sucks, especially since few women wear clothing with rippable bodices in 2015. I searched and searched and searched for more contemporary covers. I searched small presses and big publishers. Avon still comes the closest. They've always sprinkled a few fun covers in with the grabby-couple ones.


And this one:


Close, but not 100 percent. I think it's time we reimagine the romance cover. There's no reason they can't all be more like this:


Do you know of any romance covers that break the stereotype?

52 comments:

  1. Blogger buddy Talli Roland writes chick lit and her covers are more like that last one. Playful. And yes, I have read one of her books. The story reminded me of a romantic comedy movie.

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    1. It's probably that I like romantic comedies! Since romantic comedies were wiped off the map when chick lit wore everyone out, that's probably why we don't see more fun covers like that.

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  2. Now that you mention it, they do all follow the same sort of trend, but then, most genre covers do fall into ruts. (Take urban fantasy, for example.)

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    1. The "bodice ripper" trend should have gone away three decades or so ago! I don't know why they hang onto that one.

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  3. they;'re more fairy talish in my country... but we have a lot of like these covers above too.

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    1. It would probably be interesting to read the difference between books over there and here.

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    2. you can actually compare some of our covers to yours here in the interview I did a few years ago: http://bardsandprophets.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-secret-life-of-hollywood-spy.html

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  4. I can't say I've made a habit of studying chick lit covers but find your research informative!

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  5. I've just noticed a ton of foodie romance novels lately!

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    1. Says a lot about readers...we like books and we like food!

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  6. I think we need more normal covers.. you are absolutely right that women do not wear the type of clothing in 2015 that is depicted in these novels. I know many people will say that's the fantasy but that is precise reason I don't read them... ♡

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    1. I guess as Elizabeth said below, publishers have found that sex sells!

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  7. Omg those old romance covers crack me up still tho! So trashy!!

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    1. And there are some REALLY good books out there. Better than people realize...but many people will never give them a chance because of the cover.

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  8. I always laugh when I see the old romance covers. My publisher still uses big hunky guys and busty women which is why I'm glad I just got objects on my covers from them!

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    1. It was really hard to find any romances that didn't have a cover like that. I was surprised!

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  9. I remember when I used to like to look at Fabio on Romance covers...never paid much attention to the woman. I just finished reading The Astronauts Wife's Club inspired by the series that ran this summer. I remember the era well but had no idea the women went through what they did. Your post Stephanie, made me think of the first time Life magazine featured the seven original wives on the cover and they were all astounded when Life photo-shopped them and their demure pink lipstick to flaming red to make them look "sexier." :)

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    1. I remember Fabio. I never thought he was all that appealing!

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  10. They are more fun covers indeed than the first one. Do remind me more of romantic comedies

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  11. I love the chick lit illustrated covers so much! It's interesting, in YA I feel like every cover has a couple holding hands or walking on the beach or something, and I read recently that they polled kids in schools and most preferred illustrated covers! so it seems we may get more for YA too which would be awesome

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  12. Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld have a host of gorgeous men on them. But I get what you mean . . . half naked people, which is why for my paranormal romance cover I wanted something different. I didn't want people to roll their eyes and think "not another romance writer".

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  13. I don't know of any that do break the stereotype, but I never liked the "trashy" looking ones. I wasn't even interested in picking up the book to see what the plot might be like :)

    betty

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  14. This is so true. I read a romance novel this year, and I was embarrassed to post it on Goodreads because of the "bodice ripping" cover! Ugh. Mary Balogh's covers are nice. There's just a girl and a beautiful setting. They are historical, regency romances, though.

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  15. I'm not big on romance novels. A little romance is one thing, but the explicit stuff I'll pass on. I think you can do the love stuff without the sex stuff.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  16. I admit, I do love the change in covers, especially when doing reviews but I wasn't too worried about actually reading them because, after all, that's why I have my Kindle right? So no one ever knows what I'm reading! :P

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  17. I'll admit, I judge a book by its cover and I've never been a fan of the bodice-rippers or covers with just a half-naked dude. They might be the best stories ever, but I put it down without a second thought. I like this new direction because it'll help me, and folks like me, in giving romances a chance!

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  18. It is strange that some publishers still use the hunky guy, bodice-ripped woman for covers but then it has worked for so many years. We can't help but look at them so that gets our attention.

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  19. I don't follow the genre, Stephanie, but I commend both your viewpoint and your research. "Bodice Ripper" is really the only term I know for this type of book. But I like your approach, It's time for romance novel covers to get into step with the rest of the world.

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  20. I love the fun covers, but sadly- according to my publisher- sexy sells, so we have the slew of hot ab covers. I think my tastes and my writing style are more in line with chick lit.

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  21. Interesting. I've never paid much attention to romance cover since I seldom read them.

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  22. Covers aren't what gets me in. I read from most genres so it is the blurb, the title, the author which pull me.
    I agree about the bodice ripper cover. Soooo dated.

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  23. That's it! We need to revolutionize the romance book covers. Who's with me?!

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  24. I've seen some lately where you can't tell its romance at all from the cover. I think that's weird.

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  25. I guess part of it is so that we know what we're getting in the story, but it's so much easier to shop by genre nowadays. I don't notice covers unless I'm looking for a new book, so I can't really help with the discussion.

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  26. I agree. Bodice rippers begone;) I've got a novella romance coming out and there's nothing but a diamond on it. Nora's covers usually don't flash the romantic angle.
    I like the ones you picked out:)

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  27. Those are fun covers indeed, more modern books should tow that line.

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  28. They didn't call them bodice rippers for nothing, did they? I wonder if the romance readers prefer the old covers or the new ones? Anyone done a survey?

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  29. I usually only know the big hair bosomy women being swept away by the strong-jawed hunk. I prefer the newer ones you have shown here.

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  30. I remember Red Dress Ink published a lot of chic lit books with different types of covers. Such as MILKRUN by Sarah Mlynoski, she had a martini glass filled with milk. Then SLIGHTLY SINGLE series had a gold fish in a small fishbowl. I can't remember them all, but, I will say I prefer their covers. I also remember the Shopaholic Series; and then Candace Bushnell covers are different types of romance and covers too. =)

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  31. I still totally adore the chick lit covers and wish those were around more. They're just fun! And not terribly embarrassing to be caught reading in public :) And lately I've seen quite a few romance covers that veer more into models-that-need-blurring-in-certain-places, which is all find and good if you're reading on a kindle, but not something I'm about to pull out on the bus.

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  32. Very attractive cover which attracts people to take the book and have a look at it...

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  33. Oh yes! I remember those days of Fabio on every cover, and I was partial to Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss. (lol) I don't know of any bodice ripping going on over in this neck of the woods either, Stephanie. You picked a few goodies! Hugs...Ro

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  34. Hope your day is pleasant and productive:)

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  35. I personally like more modern looking covers (and chick lit covers). I think the romance covers with the bodice wearing women can look outdated and then everyone thinks you are reading a cheesy romance book (even if it is in no way cheesy). I think it is interesting that those covers are the ones done the most- I guess they must sell well...

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  36. Interesting question. I guess the big publishers have a house style which they don't want to break, but with people designing their own covers the field is wide open. There might be another massive trend round the corner!

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  37. I remember reading many bodice rippers in the 90's and they all had the same look to them. I like the newer covers better. There's a better idea that the stories are heavy on the romance but well-rounded to include other things. I also think they're cuter and with a simpler style.

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  38. I'm with you - less cheesy poses! More strong female themes.

    BTW, thanks for your comment on my blog :)

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  39. I very much remember most romance novels looking like the first cover!! But we've come a long way, baby....

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  40. Hmmm..I'm scrolled through them a couple of times and I have to say, it's exactly the type of covers I have lining my bookshelf. I used to read wayyyy more Romance back in the day.

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  41. Some romance covers might look trashy but one don't have to stand long to see some revealing flesh flashing magazine right there at the cash register where mothers are paying the cashier while the young kids can oggle over the trashy magazines.

    It's been a long time since I've been interested in Romance books and I haven paid much attention to covers but Stephanie, you are keeping us so well informed. You deserve a badge for this.

    I must say, I'd be embarrassed to be caught reading a Romance novel in public with the bodice ripping cover. lol...
    Hugs,
    JB

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