Monday, May 13, 2013

Gender and Book Covers

Over the past year there has been much discussion about the portrayal of women on book covers with Jim C.Hines and John Scalzi doing their bit to show just how ridiculous women's poses (on fantasy novel covers in particular) often is. What I hadn't realised though is how at least some publishers skew the covers of novels by women to what they perceive as the likings of the women's market - because, of course, all books by women are about things of interest only to women. Right?

Well no. It's akin to the fact that my daughter felt she had to apologise for giving me a pink card for Mothers' Day because all women like pink, don't they. Again no. I really dislike pink as she well knows. I'm not fond of washed out baby blues and lavenders or purple either and I'm by no means the only one. If you look around certain women's wear sections of most stores, though, that's often all you can buy. The retailers' perception is that women like such colours so that's how they skew their buying. The clothing sells - because there are no alternatives - so they have their perception reinforced and so it continues.

It seems something similar might be happening among publishers except here the perception appears to be woman writer = won't get read by men because girl cooties = will only be read by women = girlie covers because women like girlie covers, don't they. Maureen Johnson tackles this in her post The Gender Coverup on The Huffington Post website. It's worth reading to the end before you go to the link where, in answer to a challenge by Johnson, a number of classics written by men have some of their better known covers redone as if they had female authors. They are clever and are a real eye-opener.

Edited for more clarity.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting posts at the end of those links, Helen. Definitely much food for thought on these issues!