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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007 9:00 pm
Well, sometimes we think we can
Posted by: Neal

There must be something in the water. Like Katie, I have been thinking about book jackets, prompted by the work of Joyce Saricks.

Joyce is Booklist’s readers’ advisory (RA) columnist (see At Leisure with Joyce Saricks). She recently wrote a column on book jackets which outlines how useful jacket art and text can be when conducting quick, on the fly RA work.

In addition to all the useful points Joyce makes about series, author popularity, genre, and tone, she prompted me to think about how covers change to reflect societal shifts. Oddly enough, romance titles and Harry Potter perfectly illustrate this.

Romance has moved from covers that looked like this:

Secret Fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To covers that look like this:

Cover Image

and finally, sort of back at least half way to covers that look like this:

Devil Who Tamed Her
While in England at least, Harry Potter gets both adult and children’s covers. The adult version of the last Harry Potter book is gorgeous:

Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows
but if you just landed on the planet, you could be forgiven thinking that it was an odd title for a classic reissue:

Moonstone

All this makes me wonder – in addition to what the book jacket and text can tell us about the inside of a book, what does it tell us about society as a whole and what we will and will not read on the subway – in front of an apparently judgmental audience? If the first rule of RA, never to apologize for your reading tastes, is alive and well in libraries, it seems to have a long way to go in publisher’s marketing.

One Response to “Well, sometimes we think we can”
  1. Bill Says:

    Welcome to Likely Stories, Neal. Excellent points all about book jackets and society. I would say that the ability to be nonjudgmental about reading tastes is the sole province of the RA world. Everyone else, from publishers to readers of all kinds, remains severely judgmental. I remember years ago when a friend of mine attempted to buy the National Enquirer at an El stop in Chicago, and the newsman said that she shouldn’t be reading that kind of thing; it wasn’t worthy of her. At least when you go to Macdonalds, the servers dont tell you not to eat burgers.


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