I don’t know if this is exactly a recent trend – I’ve been seeing it for some years now – but I find it fascinating how so many new book covers feature characters with faces that have been largely cropped out of the cover. It’s as if they’ve been partially decapitated! I’ve found this particularly prevalent in romance and urban fantasy.


I think I understand the reasoning behind this – readers have a specific image of the characters that they read about and by leaving much of the face off of the book cover, that image is left intact. This is especially significant in romance and paranormal romance novels where the readers’ connection to the characters involved is more intimate.


I, for one, really hate it when the character portrayed on the cover does not reflect how I picture them.


It’s a savvy move from the publishers – and one that many readers probably haven’t even noticed. But the next time you’re in a bookstore, take a look. These covers are everywhere!


Here are a few recently released and soon-to-be “decapitated” book covers.


Off with their heads, I say! 






Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can follow him on Twitter at @paulgoatallen and get all the latest Barnes & Noble book news from @BNBuzz.

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎01-14-2013 10:24 AM

Paul, I have to admit that I never really thought about it until you mentioned it. But I think you nailed it. I hate it when a cover 1)doesn't represent factually the characters and 2) the cover doesn't represent how I imagine the characters to be.

So whoever came up with the technique I say Here Here and I agree "off with their heads" :smileyhappy:


Thanks Paul for always making us think about what we're reading.

by on ‎01-14-2013 06:39 PM

I hadn't thought about they were letting me decide on the image. I was thinking they were diminishing the role of that character. I like the idea they are letting me keep my ideas of the character. But I like the "Off with their heads" title.

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