We've all heard it said, and we even say it ourselves over and over again. But in this consumerist/capitalistic/whatever-you-want-to-call-it age where marketing is king, we all know that book covers actually matter a lot. It's why I blog about so many cover changes mid-series, and why we make a huge deal out of cover reveals (anyone watching Veronica Roth on TV tomorrow morning?).
I think at this point, it's almost a commonly-known fact that authors get pretty much no say in their covers. If they did, I think that the landscape of book covers would be vastly different (and probably a lot better). Sometimes, publishers put out covers that make everyone shake their heads. Sometimes they put out covers that are offensive (we all remember Liar by Justine Larbalestier, right?), and sometimes they do random things, like publish a bazillion headless covers, and then turn around and publish covers with body-less faces. (And to be completely fair, publishers can put out really awesome, gender-neutral covers. They just don't do it often enough in my opinion.)
But I think one of the most rampant issues in book covers and marketing is what Maureen Johnson pointed out yesterday--gendered book covers that don't take in account the story, but the author's gender. You can read this article to learn more about the issue, and check out a gallery of the coverflip challenge. Here's one example, with the true cover of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian on the left, and the feminine version on the right.
Do you think that books covers need to factor in consideration of author's gender and intended audience? Or should book covers always align with the story being told? (In a perfect world, yes, but this isn't a perfect world...) Is there room for artistic expression and creativity?
As someone who is always worried about whether or not a book is losing some of its teen male audience because of covers, I'm interested in hearing your opinions. There are a lot of YA covers out there that I think really discourage male readers. All I can say is...thank goodness for the privacy of e-reading?