Feet. Most people have two. They’re found just below your ankles and are essential in numerous everyday activities: walking, flushing public toilets, making your socks feel needed, and picking up small objects when you’re too lazy to bend over.

 

Feet. Ten toes and a heel. Not a big deal, right?

 

 

While searching for some holiday gifts this weekend on BarnesandNoble.com, I accidentally wandered beyond the familiar boundaries of science fiction and fantasy and became lost in strange, frightening realms known as Chick-Lit, Nonfiction, and Inspiration. Within minutes of aimless wandering, I inexplicably ran across literally dozens of novels with bare feet prominently displayed on the covers: The Boy I Loved Before  by Jenny Colgan; The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn by Janis Hallowell; Tall Pine Polka/Your Oasis on Flame Lake by Lorna Landvik; Sincerely, Mayla by Virginia Smith; Sleeping Naked Is Green by Vanessa Farquharson; and Babes with a Beatitude by Linda P. Kozar and Dannelle Woody, to name just a few.

 

 

They were everywhere! Toes in the grass, toes in the air, toes on the beach, toes by the pool. In my confusion, I thought for a moment that I had accidentally clicked over to an online foot fetish site…

 

 

Feeling as though I had missed out on some kind of recent phenomenon in cover art design, I left my computer and looked through the hundreds (quite possibly thousands) of books in my collection – the majority of which are science fiction, fantasy and crime fiction. After more than an hour of searching, I had found not one book cover featuring bare feet. Not one!

 

 

I did come up with some great, foot-powered SF/fantasy titles ideas, however….

 

• The Lord of the Toe Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

• The Left Foot of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

• A Sockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

• That Hideous Stench by C.S. Lewis

• The Insoles of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke

 

 

So I’m stumped. Why so many bare feet on book covers whose reading audience are largely female? What’s the appeal? Is it a symbol for comfort and/or familiarity? And what’s the significance of painted toenails opposed to unpainted? And is the direction of the feet indicative of something in the book?

 

 

Any advice or comments? Please help!

Comments
by on ‎12-21-2009 05:51 PM

Pianted toes, to women means pampered.

 

Chick lit does favor a great many feet shots, either that or a girl twirling wearing a dress. Why is a deep subject, I'm not sure I know enough to explain myself.

by on ‎12-21-2009 06:31 PM

I was thinking of painted toes meaning well-dressed feet.

I had to look at my copy of Your Oasis on Flame Lake, it has a nice sunset scene of a cabin on a lake.

That picture suits the book. 

Not sure why people would market books with feet pictures. It must work???

I have been trying to think of a reason, nothing comes to mind.

Now for fantasy I could see ogre feet, hobbit feet, mutated feet, etc. for book covers.

But I am not sure it would attract me to the book.

 

by on ‎12-21-2009 08:48 PM

Paul,

 

I'm like you and don't have any idea why barefeet are so big on book covers.  I don't read Chick Lit so I'm not going to worry about it but it was a fun article to read.

 

Toni

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎12-22-2009 09:21 AM

Paul, dear sweet uneducated(about feet) Paul.

Cover feet is all the rage right now, there's nothing that makes a woman (well me anyway) feel more pampered and more well beautiful then having pampered toes and heels and arches. And according to a lot of men I've talked to they think that pretty feet are sexy, especially when said woman is using said feet in a very special way to said man.

Need I say more! ;-)

Deb

by on ‎12-22-2009 11:12 AM

I like feet..Mens,well groomed,always Sexy..My Feet..always taken care of..I ski,so I have them pampered at least once a week.by me or ....... and also The Spa...we get a huge discount....I feel better..Summer..same Pale Pink Polish..clean..Never Red toenails for me.....paulgoatallen,you are always thinking of these really absurb topics,I love that!!!!  Vtc,Susan...Gladiator Sandels...back in Those Days,need I say More??V

by Moderator Melissa_W on ‎12-22-2009 01:41 PM

Lol, Paul... :smileyvery-happy:  I nearly dribbled tea onto my keyboard.

 

Over the summer, our kids' lead bookseller did an entire endcap display of young reader/teen titles with feet on the covers - it had a ton of good titles on it (and we called it "Foot Books", haha). 

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎12-22-2009 01:46 PM

Melissa:

Hey, "Foot Books" – I like it. Great holiday gifts as well – especially opened under the mistletoe! (Get it? MistleTOE?) Ughhhhh....

by 1lovealways on ‎12-22-2009 06:48 PM

Paul,

 

An interesting and humorous article!  Seeing feet on a book cover can't be too much different than seeing all those gorgeous bare chests!  I don't have any books with feet that I can recall, but the ones in the books in your article are quite beautiful!  

 

I don't know if the cover has anything to do with the story within, but I guess that depends on the Art Dept. and their interpretation of the storyline and ours as we read the story.  I'm sure sometimes the cover has nothing whatsoever to do with what's inside the front and back flap. The feet on the cover are like the bare chests.  Meant to catch the eye.  Beautifully pampered feet with color of polish or a French manicure is sexy depending on how you look at it.  Posed correctly it appears the feet can lure us as much as the chests and are as popular for the number of books you found.

 

I do have a book with the model's hands posed softly and elegantly against her dress.  It's Kathleen E. Woodiwiss's The Reluctant Suitor.  I would have bought the book even if the cover didn't intrigue me, because she was my all time favorite Historical Romance author.  She was one of the authors that I bought by name only, so the book was already going to be mine, but those beautifully posed hands was another added appeal to me. It was just love at first sight regarding that cover and it still is!

 

So, hence the appeal of the feet.  I think it's pretty much the same analogy as the chests and the hands!  Can anyone say happy feet!  :smileyhappy:   

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎12-25-2009 10:05 AM

Here's one for all of you foot fetishists out there: Footsucker by British author Geoff Nicholson – a surprisingly well written book about a guy with an obsession for perfect feet. It's been out for more than a decade and very well may be out of print now but it was a memorable read, at least for me...

 

http://img.infibeam.com/img/0f6d18f5/939/7/9780879517939.jpg

by Chomp on ‎12-26-2009 12:21 AM

This is pretty funny, Paul. Feet -- who knew? I have never really noticed this before. Perhaps the psychological implications are bare feet = freedom, or letting go, something to that effect. Painted toenails, as Tigger said, typically represent those who have the time and/or inclination to indulge in the activity.

 

I hope your holiday shopping was not hindered too much. :smileyhappy:

 

Carol

by Blogger LisaSteinke on ‎02-02-2010 05:23 PM

As much as I LOVE Chick Lit, I have to say that I hadn't noticed this trend. Maybe there's a connection between loving Chick Lit and loving a good pedicure? Other than that, I got nothin!

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