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.

Comments
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.

About Unabashedly Bookish: The BN Community Blog
Unabashedly Bookish features new articles every day from the Book Clubs staff, guest authors, and friends on hot topics in the world of books, language, writing, and publishing. From trends in the publishing business to updates on genre fiction fan communities, from fun lessons on grammar to reflections on literature in our personal lives, this blog is the best source for your daily dose of all things bookish.

Advertisement

Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Categories