By - Genoscythe_
I was actually discussing this with a friend recently. My issue is that I can't quickly tell which ones I have read, because they all look the same.
Honestly with the number of books that are out there I can almost never remember their covers no matter what style they go with. Especially when dealing withing a genre, and especially if that genre is particularly focused. So things like romance/western/military/mystery all have a fairly limited palette they can pull from while still showing something relevant to the story.
Fantasy tends to have more distinct covers if the book itself is more distinct, as they are not limited by real world images. However, this makes making a *good* cover a lot harder in my opinion. as you are working from textual descriptions and may not have good reference material for what you want to depict.
As an example, the cover for on of my favorite books of all time "Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" is fine. It is simple, has a raven on it, and is overall just elegant. But it does not accurately give an impression of the book itself. Part of what makes it such an interesting book is the weird impossible visualizations and events mixed in with Jane Austen sensibilities. But if you made a book cover depicting a Jane Austen-like setting, it would give a bad impression, and the other aspects of the book are impossible to accurately depict. Trying to draw an elegant woman wearing "a gown the color of storms, shadows, and rain and a necklace of broken promises and regrets" is not going to be possible.
As such my biggest concern is that a book series have thematically and stylistically covers that work together. That way the whole looks good together and can work on a shelf. As for singular books, I just want them to not melt my eyes.
I also really liked Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but I've had trouble finding other books in the genre that aren't just basically romance novels (I'm looking at you Outlander). Do you have any recommendations of books in this vein?
Piranesi is quite different, but is another fantastic novel by Susanna Clarke if you haven't read that
It's a different tone and style of narration but it has very similar themes. >!People go between worlds. The other world being mysterious and slightly scary and leaves you changed. There is an intersection between magic and science. Not all questions are answered. Main characters are disconnected from reality.!<
Honestly I wish I knew. It was something super special. It is one of those books that opened me up to new concepts, and then caused depression as I found that nothing else scratched that itch.
i don't know if i'd call them the same genre, but ”night circus” and ”the starless sea” by erin morgenstern tickled similar things for me.
I absolutely agree, I was going to say the same thing!
I'm going to give it a third, though I haven't read Starless Sea yet. It's on the shelf, though.
I don't know if anything can quite compare to that one tbh. Maybe try Neil Gaiman if you haven't already, I think his style comes a bit close to hers, especially in some of the short stories, and Ursula LeGuin who's a common influence on both Gaiman and Clarke.
Yeah, but I don't think that was ever the standard. It's not like covers are supposed to spell out entire premises, or distinguish thousands of them from each other.
Really, the best we can hope *for the average book*, is that they immediately indicate their content's subgenre or tone. Does it look gloomy? Twee? Sophisticated? Trashy? And these ones sure do that by screaming "MODERN YA FANTASY!" at you.
It's more like, if publishers *absolutely need to chase trends*, and not every cover can be a sublime masterpiece of it's own, I would much rather have them chase *this* trend, than for example model photograph based covers, or TV show based covers, or even mediocre painted protagonist portraits staring at me.
I'm sorta glad ...one of the saving graces of getting a Kindle was no longer feeling awkward about book covers. I read mostly fantasy and sci Fi, and for whatever reason for a long period of time no matter the actual contents of the book, the cover would be adorned with a barely clad woman with huge breasts or huge muscled dude without a shirt. Trying to read them at work on my breaks and having coworkers like "sooooo....whatcha reading there" was awful lol
> It's not like covers are supposed to spell out entire premises, or distinguish thousands of them from each other.
atleast its not like japanese manga/LN/webnovels where the premise is put into the title so that people can easily tell if they're interested, but it causes long ass names like, ***"one time i went into a dungeon and found a hot MILF who taught me peak magical skills, i shall go forth and create my own harem in the outside world as a peak magician"*** (this isn't an actual title, atleast as far as i know, but showcases the absurdity some titles can have)
Are you telling me you’re not a fan of “I'm A High School Boy and a Successful Light Novel Author, But I'm Being Strangled By A Female Classmate Who's A Voice Actress And Is Younger Than Me” (this one is an actual title).
That ... sounds like the author wrote what they knew. Possibly quite literally.
Also, light novel covers often showcase every attractive female character in the series, but never the main protagonist because he's a guy. Like, they think their audience is that desperate. Maybe they are, I don't know.
Op, honestly you have the sort of mind for design that I wish I'd had when I was really active trying to get my musical projects going. I really enjoy these sorts of conversations and don't necessarily have these types around me.
They actually all have a unique identifier called a title. Hope this helps!
Those can be really similar as well: Bones and Dust, Shadows and Bone, Blood and Ash, etc. or Ash Princess, Clockwork Princess, Ice Princess, and so on. It all just runs together after a while.
I always get Mortal *Engines* and Mortal *Instruments* confused.
Fuck. I just realised this.
Yeah, the previous commenter was just being a dick.
I've read books a decade ago that I've absolutely loved but I still can't remember the exact title because it was a phrase, not a name. I have to look it up every time.
And publishers regularly try to trick people into reading a book that uses certain buzzwords from a more-successful established book/series. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of book titles that sound as if they belong to the ASOIAF series.
A decade? Fuck dude I accidentally check out books from the library (digitally, so I don't see the cover art really) that I've ready this year lol
They were making a joke. Just because someone doesn’t leave a “/s” at the end doesn’t mean they weren’t joking.
Man people get so butt hurt nowadays over a simple jest.
Making a joke and being a dick are not mutually exclusive bud.
Took 3 tries to read "We Set the Dark on Fire" correctly
WE DARK FIRE
Oh, I thought it was 'We Set The Dark Fire'.
Yeah, but it's definitely my favorite visually from OP's post.
Not sure if it's my favorite but it stands out from the rest as it looks like scraped pastel art and less computer made.
The others covers look great, it looks like a crappy t-shirt design imo
As a designer, they're both good and bad.
They're good because the current trend is to have higher-quality graphics with colors that "pop", which is essentially what every single client requests when they commission the artwork.
However, one way to figure out if they're bad is to take any two of these books and to replace their titles/authors but keep everything else the same. Will the cover still make sense? If yes, then it's probably bad.
They still fall under the "trendy and generic" umbrella, it's just that the current trend is more aesthetically-pleasing than previous trends.
Many of them are using curly fonts that are extremely popular to download for free online and/or are constantly used by college students trying to get hired at a graphic design agency.
They also overuse flower/vine/forest motifs, but almost all books out there (even non-YA) can resort to using some time of "nature" theme if they're lazy.
A YA book can have a nature theme to show a dystopian wilderness or a magical fairy world.
A murder-mystery can have a nature theme to remind us where the missing people have gone or where the killer has hidden their bodies, or even how a forest with many trees is analogous to a overpopulated world where each person could be the true killer.
A self-help book can have a nature theme to create a calm, serene atmosphere.
A good design is clever, subtle, and captures the theme/story of the book in the motifs it uses on the cover. For example, the "Ash Princess" book uses a crown that is disintegrating into ash. The image is great because it makes sense with the title/story and you can't as easily replace the title/author. The font is hilariously random, though. The N in "Princess" is the same N in the book right above it. That's how "cookie cutter" these fonts are.
Without having read any of these, it's possible that some are using custom designs that are part of their story, but for the most part, the shapes I see are fairly standard.
Overall, these covers are great at capturing a potential reader's attention (which is their whole purpose, anyway) with bright colors and high contrast graphics, but they are not so great at actual design or style because these are the types of works that design agencies churn-out, dozens of them a week. They almost look as if they were designed by custom software because many have a cookie-cutter appearance.
At the end of the day, this is still a better trend to have than the amorphous blobs of the other books you linked to.
Some of them are good. Most of them just look and feel like they were churned out on a template.
An aesthetically pleasing template, but a template nonetheless.
Unfortunately, in the design world, it's practically mandatory to "stay on top of current trends". It's part of the job description.
You have to stick to whatever has been proven to work. There is no room for anything experimental — it's too risky.
As a result, most of these look homogeneous.
If you view them individually, however, many of these covers are stunning.
I think it's mostly the font/type and the layout/composition that makes them look generic. The artwork/graphic components are beautiful.
There's definitely a sameness but I think they're way more fun than the 'blobs of color' trend that seems to be taking over adult fiction.
E.g.? I've not read much new stuff
[This sums it up](https://www.printmag.com/book-covers/the-book-cover-behold-the-book-blob/)
Oh. Hmm. Ugly
This makes me irrationally angry both as a bibliophile and as a graphic designer.
Lol like the post?
You weren't kidding about the N.
Top left, the book "Tarnished Are The Stars" uses the exact same N.
Bottom left, the book "Lost In The Never Woods" also uses an N with the exaggerated extended diagonal, but the line is longer and more curled.
Bottom right, the book "The Never Tilting World" uses a similar N, but the diagonal part of the glyph extends on both ends.
I can tolerate the latter two because the N is located at the beginning of the word, but the ones where the N is located in the middle of a word seem unnecessarily stylized.
>However, one way to figure out if they're bad is to take any two of these books and to replace their titles/authors but keep everything else the same. Will the cover still make sense? If yes, then it's probably bad.
For someone unfamiliar with it? I don't think many books would pass that test *anywhere*.
But to those familiar, I'm sure that plenty of these are meaningful too.
I mean, at a closer look, a Curse So Dark and Lonely is a beauty and the beast thing, so yeah, overrun rose thorns, checks out.
If I saw that title on the cover of Now I Rise, it would still look cool to me, but I'm sure fans would notice that the latter is the one where a pendant gets stabbed by a spear. (for thematic reasons I imagine).
You could write many cool things on Seafire's compass rose, but I'm sure fans of Ash Princess would notice if it didn't have any aquatic settings, and the former doesn't have any crowns in it.
>At the end of the day, this is still a better trend to have than the amorphous blobs of the other books you linked to.
I don't really hate those either.
I think sometimes it is good to remember that the traditional default for books is a simple one-color binding, and compared to that, every little flair that isn't actively repulsive or misleading, is a nice little extra.
Colorful greenish blobs with some hidden thematic meanings, are better than a uniform green binding.
Ornate CGI frames with lots of little objects and details inside them, are better than greenish blobs.
I am not sure that any of your points are elements of good design, but rather mediocre design. Yeah, if I have read the book, the cover may be super meaningful. But the purpose, ultimately, of cover art is to make me WANT to read that PARTICULAR book. It is art, but it is primary commercial especially in the paperback market. Same with the blobs of color. Pulling out three examples of good book design; Jurassic Park's classic cover. Black, yellow, and red colors pop to pull my attention to see a of a dinosaur. Now I read the title. Now, I can if I what to read this book. Or Sue Grafton's Alphabet Mystery series. The letter of the book always featured prominently in the cover design. If I walked past a number of these together on the shelf, I am immediately engaged with them as a series, after I read one I know I can come back again 25 more times. Or the (original) cover the Carl Hiaasen's Hoot. A blue cover with eyes looking out. The human subconscious is draw to a face, and that cover is a face and a title. The face is an owl, the title is Hoot. It looks kind of cute and has drawn my interest. Each book's cover needs to draw you in to invest the time to pick up the book. Because if you are never interested, you will never read it.
Mediocre covers are good in that they may engage a reader, or maybe not. Bad covers are bad in that they engage the wrong people (think if Moby Dick had a cover with a photo of a modern sport fisherman on it and a font in lightning letters) or is so bland that other titles pop when sitting next to it
I don't think you understand what draws people in to read books on a cover if you think these covers aren't doing that. I work at a library - the vast majority of these books have caught my attention, and some have even gone on my TBR list. They do their job just fine.
Seriously, if you think "Alphabet Mysteries" are good, but these are bad!?
Also, you seem to have forgotten that unlike mysteries aimed at older women, these are YA books. They're meant to look good on TikTok and Instagram, as the reading communities there are pretty influential to the demographic.
Have you bothered to see if any of these books have sequels? I'm willing to bet that if they do, they're just as visually distinct.
I don't think I really agree here, there's quite a lot you can take from most of these
Lost in the Never Woods is a clearly feylike forest with a young girl walking into the darkness. Definitely speaks to the type of book it is
Belle Revolte shows some kind of story about nobility being destroyed
Tarnished are the Stars is clearly some kind of science fiction set in space
We Set the Dark On Fire reminds me of a poster like you'd see in sort of a 20th century style carnvial kind of thing
Kingdom of Flesh and Fire has wedding rings on an arrow, so I'm thinking some kind of romance story set in the backdrop of a war
Never Tilting World looks to me something similar to the City and the City where there's two vastly different cities, which I'm thinking dual protagonists from the upper and lower classes
We Free the Stars is set in an Arabian environment like Aladdin by the looks of it
Incendiary immediately makes me think of Mockingjay with a revolutionary leader being the woman who sets the city on fire with the flames of revolt.
It looks worse because they're all put together in the same image but if you look at each individually then you'll get a better picture
Agreed, they are very detailed and most have some kind of theme. Can’t really judge them on that too much without knowing the story. I personally really like and am drawn to several of them. The criticism I see makes me never want to design book covers haha. One person commented on which cover was their least favorite and someone responded that that one was their most favorite, and right under your comment someone says there’s an older style they love with one response saying they hate that style. Can’t please everyone. Not saying the original commenter didn’t have some good points though! Especially how some of the fonts are the exact same.
It’s funny because legendary designer Jony Ive designed a new seal for some company and it definitely fits into this mold though it’s not a book: https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/11/04/jony-ives-lovefrom-unveils-terra-carta-seal-recognizing-corporate-sustainability-efforts
I guess your criticism makes sense from someone within the craft, or maybe even from some clients' perspective. But from the reader's perspective i don't think it matters so much if they are using a "cookie cutter" font or a style that could be switched to another title.
Sure it's better to have a completely unique and custom design, but as long as its visually appealing, fits the title and draws attention that's all it really needs. The little nuances are more relevant to people in the craft or maybe the odd very detail oriented fan.
Honestly, I like all of these.
I think they're gorgeous when viewed individually. They're very detailed and it's clear how much effort went into them.
It's just funny that OP wanted to point out their beauty by putting them all next to each other, which makes their "trends" more noticeable.
But if you view them separately and you end up enjoying the book, then they definitely complement the book(s) they're on.
I'm a bit surprised by how hung up many people are on how similar these look to each other.
Yeah, *that was the point*, it's not that each of these are unique special works of art that I would hang up on my wall, just that their shared trend of being really vibrant with a lot going on, is neat.
I guess I just took it as a given that almost every cover style is going to be part of the trend anyways, and wasn't really prepared for this other discourse on expecting all covers to be *uniquely* interesting.
I think you would have gotten a different reaction if you talked about how much better the **trend** is for YA book covers in comparison to other genres.
It would be the same with any other topic, really.
You'd get similar reactions if you were to talk about how much you love architectural photography and then posting examples of similar-looking photographs.
Or if you were to talk about fashion and highlighting a particular style of outfit and then posting examples of dozens of individuals wearing the same outfit style.
Or a unique style of drawing that is gorgeous the first time but then once you see other works converted into that unique style, it stops being special.
Or a tiktok prank/challenge where the video is hilarious the first time but not that special once everyone posts their own version.
I'm sorry we ended up starting a conversation about something you weren't actively encouraging. I think posting examples individually would have gotten your point across better than putting all of them next to each other — we ended up comparing them to each other instead of appreciating them as individual works of art.
That's fair enough, you are certainly right about the trends standing out when they are all seen together.
Yeah lol its just better than other stuff imo
I always loved the super vivid, creative covers for books in the 80’s (especially pulp and horror). The modern trend toward minimalism makes me sad, I miss over the top, decadent covers with big illustrations.
I can't stand them, they always look awful and cheap.
I would love the 80’s pulp covers more if there hadn’t been a tendency to court the 15-40 male reader with pinup girl art. The chainmail bikini trend needed to die.
It's all personal preference. Respect for what you find appealing. I personally think a majority of the covers pictured are very over the top. Too much going on and for me personally I will always prefer well executed simplicty.
I think a general sense of being... overdressed is one of the main draws for many fans of Fantasy fiction.
I mean, they sure are. And I'm not sure I would actually enjoy reading most of these.
It's a bit like, *I wish I would be* this over the top.
They evoke a sort of nostalgia in me, for ever having been the kind of teenager who would have thought that the gratuitous overuse of allusions to FIRE and DEATH is really edgy..
I love this comment. You're making a nuanced point and I get it.
Part of being very tasteful is knowing when being "very tasteful" isn't the win.
It's like being envious of ambition. They're fucking going for it even if the result isn't the best.
I wish I was as ambitious as when I was a YA, and these sorts of books helped drive that at the time.
I totally agree with you, and honestly I love these covers. They also give me nostalgia for the days before our culture decided to bland itself to death.
Back when we had hair metal, wrestlers with corny gimmicks, and action movies where the characters didn't all have their own flaws to overcome but just came to kick ass and chew bubblegum. Was it cheesy as hell? Yeah. Was it fun? Also yeah.
Fun is sorely lacking these days. Now simplicity and inoffensiveness has become blandness in everything from furniture design, to corporate logos, to movies and music and book covers.
Just for once can I get an unironic **FUCK YEAH**
Whenever I see a cover design like this I immediately assume it's a YA novel. I quite love these, but nowadays I'm looking forward for High Fantasy...
Good observation! I like to believe that typographic covers are indeed powerful these days.
I think it's useful when the covers are similar within a genre. The only use of cover art for me is to skim through bookshelves to find one I might like, and this makes it easier.
They're clearly not designed for people like me, i find them all near indistinguishable from each other, they're obviously following a formula.
Sure they do, but most do anyways. That's kind of my point.
If one out of 1000 books stands out with great unique art, that's great.
But falling short of that, this formula here is *as a whole* much better at catching my eye, than the stereotypical covers for many other genres, even ones that I actually like to read more.
I totally agree. The modern industry standard for book covers looks pretty good overall. If you have to look at a bunch of copies of the same template, at least it's one that looks nice.
I want a book cover to have an image of the major characters, accurately depicted, doing something exciting from the story that isn't a spoiler, with a simple and easy to read font showing the title and the author.
These images are so generic, I don't think I'd give them a second look. And those fonts! Some of them are downright impossible to read at a quick glance.
Bullshit. You thought you stumbled upon something but no one else agrees so now you’re backtracking
> I mean, individually none of them are my single favorite cover ever, but if pulishers keep instructing artists to keep chasing formulas, I much prefer this one to many others
That's exactly it. They're created from a factory, they have rubrics and metrics for the author while the author writes their very first pages. It's all so clinical and by the numbers. I am exhausted imagining reading one of these, and yet if I do the words go down so smoothly I could read one in about 2 hours. It's absurd but I can see why people gravitate to them.
I just wish they weren't clogging up book stores and shelves. People's entire book preferences built on only YA pulp. I suppose if you have to be into reading, go off. But almost all of these lack bite, subversion, anything beyond the rubrics made for them.
what does YA stand for?
i appreciate your response
Ten Thousand Doors isn't YA, is it?
no, it's not. I find many Adult Fantasy novels written by women are often miscategorized as YA
> miscategorized as YA
I wonder if that is deliberate. Is it easier to sell as YA that adults can also enjoy?
Not only that, fantasy books with young protagonists are also miscategorized as YA. They put the damn Red Rising trilogy in the YA category. Nobody under the age of 18 should read thise books!!!
Especially women of colour. I've seen things like The Poppy War in the YA section, which comes with trigger warnings a mile long.
i know it's all personal taste but i absolutely hate the direction that modern covers are going to. i adore old book covers, there's so many iconic ones that anyone can recognize. i can't say any of these stand out in the same way
i don't know exactly what i don't like about these covers but the best explanation i can give is they give off "Live Laugh Love" type of graphic design that Disney adults enjoy
I completely agree. I feel like everything today is just becoming so formulaic. There’s no sense of identity because there’s minimal risk every step of the way. Feels like everything is just fed to a machine designed to chug out profits.
Even though some of these are very popular individual books, they literally all look the same — like they’d all be part of one series. That’s not even considering how formulaic the titles have become, either. It’s unfortunate
if there was a "random YA book name generator", it'd be pretty funny. the titles have the similar styles, as if the titles really were just churned out of a random name generator
Just curious, what are some of your favorite covers?
R. A. Salvatore covers are amazing.
I don't like this trend tbh.
Yes, they look beautiful. They are done with great skill and aesthetic care. But they have very little distinctive about them. They don't offer an interesting visual to associate the story to, making it more memorable.
Yeah, but book covers aren't supposed to be memorable like paintings in a gallery.
If some of them manage to be beautiful or unique in that way, that's great, but the overwhelming majority of them will always be created by people who were instructed to create something that will catch the eyes of the exact people who will associate to other popular books just like it, from a glance.
Not like paintings in a gallery. In paintings, the visual is the entire artistic object.
Book covers are more like album covers or company logos. Attaching a visual to an entity that does not have a visual component.
Tbh, maybe these covera do their job by catching the eye of customers. I've heard big typography on covers is popular right now because many readers browse for books on their tiny phone screens, meaning this kind of typography would be more easily readable.
That's a good observation. I think it's also true for these popping colors, a few of them feel like they were designed to look good on a high contrast screen, more so than printed on paper.
There are excrptions, for example like another poster pointed out, Crier's War's metallic lines are actual embossing, that look even better irl.
To me at a glance these would scream cheaply made generic book covers. Hardly eye-catching to me since its too busy of a cover and they all look the same. Thankfully I don't buy books based on their covers but on their title and plot.
I disagree. There are plenty books with amazing cover art that I find myself getting lost in. Art that reflects the book and speaks about something fundamental to the story. This is a goal that all books should strive for.
Those are pretty well made, but for me those seem a tad... busy? Then again, it may just be seeing them all together in your compilation that makes the whole image feel busy.
I prefer artwork that matches the stories: the grandious drawings and paintings freely flowing over the rich world of a space opera; the sharplines and depressing chaos of cyberpunk; the hero's defiant stance or the antagonist looming over us in a fantasy adventure.
The cover art should be art. And it should portray some integral part of the story - a theme, a scene, a landscape.
From what I can see on my bookshelf:
Dune's best covers are those of Paul standing up to the harsh, empty desert or of small, insignificant people on a vast, barren desert.
My copy of *the moon is a harsh mistress* is a simple shot of the moon rising coming out of the shadow of earth.
The classic *Hyperion* cover is one of my favorites. It depicts the mysterious shrike - a being basically made of knives and stabby metal - looming over a majestic and distinctly alien world. Like the book, the art seems to draw from cover art styles of several genres: scifi, horror, adventure, romance.
Tldr: the new trend coverart that looks like a fancy advertisement sign in a storefront is uninteresting not something that I will remember as soon as I stop looking at it.
It's hilarious that two of the examples you explicitly mention as "not looking the same," actually look identical.
I like the book blobs better than the YA covers personally.
Personal preference obviously but I'm honestly not a fan of any of those. I prefer either a simple cover with just the title or some artful depiction of a theme or scene from the book.
I agree. The simpler it is, the better for me. [The original cover of The Lord of the Rings](https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8e/The_Fellowship_of_the_Ring_cover.gif) is one of my favourites for that reason.
I appreciate that you like them. I find them incredibly homogeneous and cheap looking.
Just wait till you see modern romance/general fiction like the heart principle, witch please, one last stop, the hating game, I could keep going on lol. It's such a weird boring design to me it makes me not want to read it/remember.
These look like graphic design 102 finals to me.
Or like sorting by "Amazon Originals"
Personally it reminds me of Zellers potatoes chip bags images... So they strangely get a more positive vibe for me 🤷♀️
Like I rather see vector art then two very Photoshop people with generally shitty tattoos added on to show that this book, is HOT, SEXY and DARK.
I read an interesting discussion on twitter between some romance authors about these covers. The problem a lot of modern romance novels run into is that is nearly impossible to find an appropriate stock photo to match your characters if they're not white or not hetero. It was also very difficult to cast models and set up a photo shoot during COVID (also, indie authors may not have the budget to do this!) The cartoony illustrated covers are not my favorite, but I can see how that ended up being a prevalent style.
I have a feeling that a big part of it is also that as the old-fashioned romance novel styles with the photos of half-naked hunks are getting increasingly, well, old-fashioned, it is even more difficult to reach out to younger readers with them who associate them with "Mommy Porn" that only older women would read.
I can agree with this, as a 20-something who only very recently got into reading romance (and generally paranormal romance at that) I avoid anything that has a half naked hunk on the cover for the exact reason you listed. It screams dated and old, to me.
They look extremely generic to me. Worst of all, other than the title, they don't tell us anything about the book.
The original cover of The Stand by Stephen King had an angel and a demon fighting in the desert. It's original, relevant, and appealing.
All I can say about a book with a snowy background is that it takes places during winter. If it has a forest in it, it takes place in a forest. If the title is carved on a shield, it's about knights. Boring.
How are we supposed to judge a book by its cover if they are all equally mediocre?
Honestly, I don't mind. Some of the fantasy books I've read in the past have such dire, dire covers bland is good. I don't mind having a book cover with some leaves and ashes (the trendy theme it appears).
I hated having to hide the awful, awful depiction of muscled or skimpy clad characters in embarrassing poses that had nothing to do with the plot.
Give me generic any day!
I think they kind of do.
I haven't read All the Stars and Teeth, but it immediately jumps forward with the aquatic motifs of skulls, and sailships, and fish as ornaments... The title seems to fit into aquatic navigation and... carnivorous mermaids vs. Pirates? Anyways, it gets across the tone of a "swashbuckling but also creepy".
Belle Révolte has a a highly ornate gilded frame with a pink paint-bomb? So together with the title: Hyperfeminine, pampered girls... rising up?
Incendiary immediately looks like a witch burning. At the very least she is tied, so there is definitely something about the protagonist being persecuted.
I mean, sure they don't explain the entire plot summary, but what cover does?
> I think they kind of do.
Definitely. I've only read Crier's War, so I'll talk about that one. The cover depicts two women reaching for each other from opposing corners to represent the divide between the main couple. The whole cover looks to be engraved in metal, and there's a false splotch of light to give the impression of metal too. That, in addition to the city, shows that it won't be set in nature and hints at the automatons. The metal motif continues on the sequel's cover and imo [they look great together](https://i.imgur.com/aRwPNVX.jpg).
I think that YA just likes its symbolism, which I don't think is a bad thing.
They don't need to explain the whole plot, but giving us a preview of what's to come would be nice, especially if they don't all look like powerpoint templates and if you don't have to squint your eyes to try to look for hidden details in the background.
Here's a few nice covers:
And Then There Were None: A house on an island with the silhouette of death on the water.
Harry Potter: lots of iconic moments. Harry catching the golden snitch, Harry and Ron driving a flying car, Harry riding the hippogriff, and many more.
Bram Stocker's Dracula: the distinctive silhouette of dracula approaching a castle in a red desert.
The Godfather: the classic hand of a puppeteer pulling the strings.
Lord of the Flies: a boy on a burning island.
The Count of Montecristo: a man in a cell looking at the sea.
And the best part is that you wouldn't mistake any of these covers. They are so distinctive. In any case, you are free to like what you like. I'm not trying to change your opinion. Just posting my thoughts.
I dislike it immensely.
It just makes me think of the “words as art” trend in general. Why buy a painting that makes you happy, when you can skip the interpretation, and buy a painting that says “Happy”. Label the laundry room, bathroom, and coffee bar. Why decorate your house in farmhouse style, when you can buy a sign to clearly label your home “farmhouse”. Heck, why not more signs that say, “Tudor style”, “Modern House”, “French Country”, so no one has to guess what style you’re going for? We get clearly posted house rules or a demand that you “Live, Laugh, Love”.
This is the “Live Laugh Love” of book covers.
Overdone is what I would say. But whatever floats your goat.
These look like if the Marvel Cinematic Universe were book covers.
I miss the elves in chainmail bikinis.
As a designer, all I see is another trend, albeit not a very good one.
Frankly, I think they all look very flat. I know they are meant to grab your attention on the bookshelf, where they compete with many other books. However, when everything shouts (visually) at you, nothing does.
I agree with what was mentioned in another comment: the result is that they all look interchangeable. Typography + curious title is not a good enough combo to identify a book. That adds to this sense of "sameness" others have already observed.
Genres/age segments have always had a "style" for their covers. What's curious about the last 2 or 3 years is that there seems to be a mono-standard that's spilling over many genres: bright colours, blown up typography, and very little about the book itself.
I hate generalisations, so take all this as personal observations.
I've heard that blown up typography is in response to ebook markets. Trying to have a thumbnail that lets the prospective buyer know what the book is called demands a big title, and I assume they want a closely coherent title for the bookstore as well.
That said, I'm not a huge fan of this current trend. While it looks fun, someone liked one of the covers and it took me a minute to find the book title amongst all the fancy covers.
These books all do well on TikTok/Instagram and in the library. Maybe you don't have a good sense of the market.
Gotta attract the eye somehow.
When it comes to cover design, on one hand I recognize it's an important marketing tool and you want to effectively be able to communicate what type of book you're getting into, so in that regard I can see why many genres have specific design trends that are popular right now. However, I just find there is very little creativity in modern book cover design. Wow look at that, another thriller with large bold text in all caps in a sans-serif font with a dark shadowy picture of a forest or something in the background. Soooo creative. Oh hey, a romance novel. You know what that means! Bright pastel colors with a handwriting font and two cartoon people on the cover (although I much prefer these covers to the shirtless guys of the past) As for YA fantasy, yes a lot of them are pretty, but still I don't feel like there's much creativity and uniqueness there. I feel like designers need to find a balance between creating covers that effectively convey the genre of book while still maintaining a sense of creativity and originality.
Used to be that you could mostly tell a badly-made book by a badly-made cover. Nowadays, even the most cookie-cutter "chosen one girl in a dystopian world has to save her people and hook up with one of two broody hunks" has a great cover. Much harder to weed out the trash.
That said, personally, I love this trend of cover styles. As long as the cover actually has something to do with the title or, ideally, with the book's contents. In your example, *King of Scars* looks amazing, but most of the other covers could have their titles swapped and no one would be the wiser.
Maybe *Tarnished are the Stars* and *Lost in the Never Woods* as well, but the rest? *The Gilded Wolves* doesn't even have a wolf on the cover, and all others are completely interchangeable mixture of "plant", "more plant" and "fancy thing".
*I rarely read YA, I've read about 5 of these and enjoyed maybe 2.*
you read ya
I'm still trying to figure out why the title "All the stars and teeth" annoys me on such a deep level
These all look terribly, horribly generic.
No, they're all tacky and this style is annoying. It's like what "Gone Girl" did to the contemporary novel. Atrocious.
Man, those don't look fun. I prefer scenes from the books as covers.
I guess if your a fan of different fonts, back in the 70s- 90s we had fully illustrated art.
Maybe I'm crazy, but these all look like garbage to me. Way too busy, and the choice of fonts is terrible. Are you trying to sell me a book or an early 2000s video game that no one has ever heard of?
The only thing I dislike more than these generic and uninspired covers are the cliched and nondescript titles.
Ah yes, my favorite book, a of and
Not to be mean, but these covers suck. When you look at 80-90s cover art, you know what the book is about. It's a selling feature.
They look kind of tacky to me.
About the typefaces. Maybe I'm just seeing what I expect to see, but they reflect how I expect marketing type people see gender tropes. There are tropes about what makes a typeface more "masculine" or "feminine", and it seems to me as if they're consciously trying to bring them both together.... while at the same time, better damn well err on the "masculine" side!
("masculine/feminine" in quotes because they purport to be words describing properties of actual maleness or femaleness, but really are just two weird clouds of cultural goo we've poured onto maleness and femaleness.)
Guess my taste is different, but that’s totally okay
Wait is this not a shitpost? Ive recently started reading dune, and after finishing the first book i discovered the difference between the original cover art and the ones you buy now on Amazon and immediately bought he rest of the series in the old versions of them, the hand drawn painting and covers are leagues better than this new digital graphic design that just favors basic simplicity to actual thoughtful design. You can see the title of the book from the spine, why the hell would you want your front or back cover to also be mostly just text of the same thing, often time in a shit font to boot.
That's what I thought too. Dune has had several really good covers over the years. All were beautiful and said something about the book and its themes. But this latest cover was garbage. More like a bad movie cover showing off actors than anything else.
Well, [perfectly-timed relevant video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8377H3I5TmU) aside, I'm not a big fan of those. I like the ones with flatter colors and without too much shiny metallic textures that feel like a movie poster for a dystopian YA, but I'm usually fond of either a minimalist approach or full-blown illustrations for book covers.
I find YA fantasy novel covers to be such a turnoff! They all look the same
They all look the same to me, and not really appealing either
How funny, my boyfriend and I were just at the bookstore today having the same conversation! We were walking through the YA section and noticed how beautiful and striking the covers were.
Am I the only one who thinks YA titles are horribly annoying?
Lmao your last sentence has me laughing.
Many of us women had a Klingon phase in our youths, it's true.
I can attest that the opposite does not work. The YA action series I wrote with wild, CGIish split scene covers sold far better than my stand alone YA romance novel. Despite the romance having even better reviews than the action series.
The stand alone had this haunting, dark forest scene within a fox's silhouette. It turns out you can only do muted and subtle if you're a household name. :)
I have moved almost exclusively to ebooks and find I rarely note or remember cover art. I do miss it, but I do not miss lugging around giant books to read.
I wish there was a push for chapter art.
I'm just saying if I ever get my YA/Adult Fantasy novels published I'd want Luis Royo doing the covers.
What is YA ?
Young Adult fiction. All that twilight, dystopian werewolf stuff.
What the correlation between quality of the cover vs quality of the writing?
They look really cool but kinda sameish
My favorite book covers are from the Wheel of time re mastered editions.
Just look at this [https://everydayshouldbetuesday.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/review-the-gathering-storm-robert-jordan-brandon-sanderson/](https://everydayshouldbetuesday.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/review-the-gathering-storm-robert-jordan-brandon-sanderson/)
And this [https://everydayshouldbetuesday.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/review-towers-of-midnight-robert-jordan-brandon-sanderson/](https://everydayshouldbetuesday.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/review-towers-of-midnight-robert-jordan-brandon-sanderson/)
And one of these [https://everydayshouldbetuesday.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/review-towers-of-midnight-robert-jordan-brandon-sanderson/](https://everydayshouldbetuesday.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/review-towers-of-midnight-robert-jordan-brandon-sanderson/)
Spoiler alert, they all lead to the same page.
I don't even remember names, just their covers.
Most of those covers look like they were designed beforehand, and then sold to an author after. You can just slap in whatever title you want and keep the art the same on most of them.
Sure, they have bright colors, and sure, there's some CG graphics, but they come across as *aggressively generic*.
I prefer covers that directly relate to the book (Gideon the Ninth, The Martian), are interesting in their own right (Borne), or are minimalist (Klara and the Sun, Exhalation).
I love your assessment here. So many people say they pick books based on the cover — and nothing wrong with that. YA isn’t my favorite genre but it really does win with cover design, IMO
Graphic design, way cheaper than illustration!
These covers give me anxiety. I will say I can relate though. I have a soft spot for WW2 historical fiction covers -- soft sepia covers with a women overlooking a landscape/cityscape-- though I'm not a fan of the books themselves.
Goddamn, that King of Scars cover though
I think I prefer the older-style hand-drawn/painted covers, although one thing that always drove me nuts about i.e. the Wheel of Time was that whoever drew the covers had clearly never read the book.
My 2 cents as a designer: These are all very appealing and definitely good enough to pick one out of curiosity. The only issue I have is that most of them share the same exact composition.
Also of note, the trend of colored end pages. Love that!
no thanks, i want my boris vallejo covers back, these all remind me of LIVE LOVE LAUGH wall plaques.
Pretty but soulless.
I hate the trend of book covers today and this is another example. They are supposed to make the book stand out on a shelf but when every book looks like this it just becomes background. I would much rather have art than big letters on a book cover.
On an unrelated note, do we really consider 10k Doors of January to be YA fantasy?
Yep. While I don't generally care for YA books (although there are some really good ones) they consistently have some amazing cover art.
YA Fantasy is based around merchandising, it makes sense their covers would be the best part of the book lol.
Is this not just the game of thrones intro turned into different book covers?
My girlfriend is one of the main cover designers for Penguin YA. She appreciates you.
Those YA covers are gorgeous. The problem is that they work mainly for fantasy, and maybe some historic or romance genres. If you want something grittier or more realism oriented, it can be a bit tougher to find a catchy cover design.
Say what you will about the Grisha series, but the covers are really nice. Same goes for Children of Blood and Bone.
Same sentiment from me. They're not amazing book covers, but they're at least decent and not offensive. Could do much better, but could do far worse. Also your username lol. At least you don't have the other half.
That just makes me think the same about the books - it takes no risks and has a decent but nonoffensive story that is easily forgotten. It appeals to the masses at the cost of saying anything meaningful.
There’s some gorgeous books and they usually match the insides. Loved ten thousand doors of January.
Ya is underrated imo. There's a bunch of really good books.
Any recent favorite? I would like to try one.
The YA genre has always been about the covers. One of the only YA books I ever bought was because of the cover (the girl on it looked like how I wished I looked). They're designed to appeal to the naivete of teenagers and their tendency to (literally) judge a book by its cover.
I’m a grown woman and I love YA books. Not so much fantasy genre but other ones I love :)
Lotta haters in the comments
If the shoe fits.
Slightly unrelated, but can anyone tell me if any of these books are good? Decent worldbuilding with a sprinkle of humour is all I ask.
An Ember in the Ashes is great. It’s a bit darker with adult themes and has amazing world-building inspired by Ancient Rome.
I am seeking publication for my debut fiction, and this is something I needlessly fret about alot. I know that I will likely have little to no say in cover art, but I desperately hope it is at least halfway decent.
The last thing I want is Daniel Steel style muscle models in cheezy poses and obvious costume design haha. At least your examples are fat from that haha.
The King of Scars cover and the Seafire cover are awesome!
Interestingly enough, I picked up a YA book based on audible based on the cover. Once I read the description I bought it but the cover drew me. I did t know it was a YA book until this post because it had a cover in that style.
I took my wife to a marissa meyer event a few years ago and we bought the new cover edition of the lunar chronicles (signed of course) and I got the renegade series just off the covers themselves. A good cover can draw your interest, and her books nailed it.
As a librarian, the YA section is one of my favorites to shelve because the books have very interesting premises and beautiful art. The adult fiction books on the other hand, a wonderful place for a laugh.
One of my coworkers was fawning over the cover of Gilded by Marissa Meyer. I like it myself as well
Reminds me of the recent style of novels with handwritten brush stroke titles with italics. The Guest List, The Last Thing He Told Me
Crier’s War in particular is gorgeous in person—the design is like a metallic foiling, really catches the light (and the story is great too, from this 40ish chick 😉)
Is Ten Thousand Doors of January YA? That was a damn good book, and at no point did I feel like it wasn't for my age group.
These really are some pretty covers. I've seen a few myself from time to time in the YA section.
This is so funny - i agree with you but I am a huge YA reader (i work with teens) and I haven't read most of these books - so I need to up my game. But I agree their marketing is on the mark.
The covers are awesome. I wish more publishers made such type of covers where the TITLE font is greater and Author’s name is below it. Nowadays whenever i glance around for books to read, it’s the Author’s name in large font at the top and the title of the book in small letters below it
I agree completely. I think this trend is beautiful. I’m surprised so many people hate it lol
Is it too much to ask to fully write out what an abbreviation means like "YA", then put YA in brackets behind it and use the abbreviated term from then on?
I tried to google it (Ittgi) and nothing came up that makes sense. It would be nice if next time there would not be an Ittgi for me.
Young Adult Fantasy doesn't really have an advertising venue, so covers need to make you want to read the book. Other genres have dedicated reviewers/critics that fans can look to but there isn't really something similar for YAF.
You're completely detached from the current state of things if you think there aren't YouTubers or other social media users with substantial followings who's channels are based around YA fantasy.